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Juana Azurduy de Padilla

Other names/titles:
Gender: F
Ethnic origin: Mestizo/a

Biographical details

She was born in Sucre, on 8 March 1781. She was educated in a convent from the age of 12 and became a nun in 1797. She married Manuel Ascencio Padilla in 1805. (Knaster, 501)

Sosa de Newton gives an alternative birth date, 12 July 1780. (Sosa de Newton, 49)

She participated in guerrilla warfare against the Spaniards 1809-1825 (Pallis, 24).

She fought alongside her husband and received the title lieutenant coronel in 1816. (Knaster, 501.)

She established a cuartel general in La Laguna, accompanied by a select few women from Upper Peru, who always fought alongside her, as a band of guards. She took part in the assault of Chuquisaca (Sucre) on 10 and 11 February 1816. General Manuel Belgrano recommended her for an order of merit for her part in the taking of the Cerro de la Plata. She also took part in the battles at Tarabuco and La Laguna. She established her post of command in El Villar. On 3 March 1816, she led a counter-attack against General Santos la Hera in which she killed 15 men, and then others who she chased on horseback as they were trying to escape. On 11 June 1816 she led one of six columns in another attack on Chuquisaca. Her husband, Padilla was killed and she was seriously injured at the battle of La Laguna (14 September 1816). Colonel Aguilera was determined to kill her too, but he mistook one of her woman guards for her and she was killed instead. This woman's body, along with Padilla's head were displayed at the entrance of La Laguna. After this Azurduy continued to fight in disguise to avenge her husband's death. She was made a teniente coronel by the Buenos Aires government on 13 August 1816. She retired from Pomabamba to Salta where she stayed until 1825. From there she returned to her birthplace, Chuquisaca, and lived there until she died in 1862, in her 80s. (Perez Godoy, 33-37.)

She fought alongside her husband against the Spanish forces for 15 years. She fought hard to achieve victory at the battle of La Laguna, re-joining the battle after the birth of her child. (Otero, 318)

After Huaqui, her assets were confiscated and she and Padilla were obliged to flee into the mountains, but they returned after the victories at Tucumán and Salta. It was then that she decided to accompany Padilla into battle. She recruited a large Indian force, which was based in La Laguna. They fought for the patriots, inflicting much harm on the Spaniards. Her four sons were killed in these battles, but the pair later had a daughter. In 1816, she and a troop of Amazonas led and fought alongside a cavalry. General Belgrano commended her to his superiors for capturing an enemy flag. She continued to fight after the death of Padilla and was promoted to Teniente Coronel. She moved to Salta and stayed until 1825 when Bolivia became a republic. The Salta government gave her 4 mules and 50 pesos so she could return to Chuquisaca. There she was visited by Bolívar. (Sosa de Newton, 49)

With Padilla, she founded an armed independence movement against the Spaniards. She lost her four children in these battles, and after her husband's death, she gathered a group of men and attacked the town and recovered Padilla's body. (Guardia, 47)

Mitre describes her as Padilla's "heroica esposa". (Mitre, xlix)

Piccirilli quotes Jean Adam Graaner, who comments that the indigenous people "están como electrizado" by Belgrano's "nuevo proyecto" to establish "un gran imperio en la America meridional, gobernado por los descendientes de la familia imperial de los Incas". Some of these were living in Cuzco and were uniting in groups under the bandera del sol. "Están armándose y se cree que pronto se formará un ejército en el Alto Perú de Quito a Potosí, Lima y Cuzco. Doña Inés [Juana] de Azurdui y Padilla, una hermosa señora de 26 años, que manda un grupo de 1400 indios en la comarca de Chuquisaca, ganó el mes pasado una victoria sobre los realistas, tomando una bandera y 400 prisioneras." (Piccirilli, 249)

Sucre's international airport is named after her.

Carranza gives her date of birth as 8 March 1781, in Chuquisaca. She married Manuel Ascencio Padilla in 1805 and accompanied him into battle. She led her own battalion, Los Leales, in the battle of Viloma. She was wounded and Padilla was killed in this combat. She served under Güemes, taking part in several battles, and was promoted to teniente coronel. Pueyrredón gave her a sword donated by Belgrano to complete her military uniform. Carranza reproduces a letter from Belgrano, written in Tucumán, dated 26 July 1816, praising her taking of the flag from La Plata hill. (Carranza, 150-153)

Life Events

Born 1781She was born on 8 March 1781, Chuquisaca, Upper Peru. Other sources say 12 July 1780.
Other 1793She entered a convent (aged 12).
Other 1797She became a nun.
Married 1805She married Manuel Asención Padilla.
Other 1816She took part in the assault of Chuquisaca on 10 and 11 February 1816 and earned the title lieutenant colonel. Her husband was killed in the Battle of La Laguna.
Other 1825She returned to Chuquisaca from exile in Salta.
Died 1862


Knaster, Meri, (1977), Women in Spanish America: An Annotated Bibliography from Pre-Conquest to Contemporary Times

Pallis, Michael (trans.), (1980), Slaves of Slaves: The Challenge of Latin American Women

Romero de Valle, Emilia, (1948), Mujeres de América

Otero, Gustavo Adolfo, (1946), Los ideales de la mujer boliviana

Sosa de Newton, Lily, (1986), Diccionario biográfico de mujeres argentinas

Guardia, Sara Beatriz, (1985), Mujeres peruanas: El otro lado de la historia

Urquidi, José Macedonio, (1918), Bolivianas ilustres, heroinas, escritoras, artistas, Tomo I

Mitre, Bartolomé, (1940), Obras completas de Bartolomé Mitre

Piccirilli, Ricardo, (1957), San Martín y la política de los pueblos

Carranza, Adolfo P., (1910), Patricias argentinas

Davies, Catherine, Brewster, Claire and Owen, Hilary, (2006), South American Independence. Gender, Politics, Text


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