Juana Azurduy de Padilla was born in Chuquisaca in 1780. Her mother was of indigenous origin, and her father was Spanish, but she was orphaned at an early age. She spent her early years living in the Santa Teresa convent with nuns.
In 1802, she married Manuel Padilla and had four children that she had to leave for a year to fight the Royal Army in order liberate Alto Peru (Upper Peru).
In 1809, popular unrest overthrew the Vice Regency, which marked the beginning of the guerilla insurrections.
In 1810, Juana Azurduy joined the liberating army of Manuel Belgrano, who gave her a saber as a demonstration of his admiration for her bravery in battle.
In 1811, Royal forces under the command of General Goyeneche regained control of Alto Peru. As a result, the Padilla land was confiscated, and Juana was captured with her children. Fortunately, Padilla rescued them, and they took refuge in the Tarabuco heights.
While armed conflict continued, more than 10,000 soldiers were recruited. Juana organized the Leal (Loyal) Battalion which participated in the Battle of Ayohuma in 1813 that led to the retreat of Argentine troops from Alto Peru. From this time, Padilla and his army carried out military actions against the Royal army.
In March of 1814, Juana and Manuel conquered the royal forces. While waiting for a counter attack, they decided to split up. Manuel marched toward the lake and Juana took refuge with their children in the Segura Valley. Juana was warned that her husband was in danger, and the Spanish troops were heading for the Segura Valley.
She and her children took refuge on the mountain with nothing to eat. She was the only adult, was unfamiliar with the route and any shelter. The children became sick, and two of them died shortly before Padilla came to rescue them. The other two died from dehydration on the way back to the Segura Valley.
Soon Juana became pregnant, yet she fought the Spanish army on the Carretas Mountain.
She was widowed, and gave birth to Luisa Padilla on the banks of the Rio Grande while the Royalists began to attack. She joined the army of Martín Gümes.
Gümes died, and Juan had to move to Salta with her daughter where she lived in poor conditions.
In 1825, Bolivia declared its independence, and Juana asked the government of the new nation to return her properties so that she could return. Unfortunately, it paid no attention to her claim.
In 1862, Juana Azurduy died in Jujuy in complete poverty. Her remains were exhumed 100 years later and currently are located in the city of Sucre.