Pere d'Alberní i Teixidor

Don Pedro de Alberni or Pere d'Alberní i Teixidor [ˈpeɾə ðəlβəɾˈni j təʃiˈðoɾ] in Catalan (Tortosa, January 30, 1747 – Monterrey, New Spain, March 11, 1802) was a Spanish soldier who served the Spanish Crown for almost all his life. He spent most of his military career in colonial Mexico. He is notable for his role in the exploration of the Pacific Northwest in the 1790s, and his later term as ninth Spanish governor of Alta California in 1800.

Pere d'Alberní i Teixidor
Pedro de Alberni
Royal Banner of the Crown of Castille (Habsburg Style)-Variant.svg 9th Governor of Alta California
In office
1800–1800
Preceded byDiego de Borica
Succeeded byJosé Joaquín de Arrillaga
Personal details
BornJanuary 30, 1747
Tortosa, Catalonia, Spain
DiedMarch 11, 1802 (aged 55)
Monterey, California
Spouse(s)Juana Vélez
ProfessionExplorer, soldier

Biography

Early life

Pedro de Alberni was born on January 30, 1747, to a noble and wealthy family of Tortosa, Catalonia, Spain. His father, Jaume d'Alberní i Antolí, was notary public and Honourable Citizen of Barcelona who had married Maria Inés Teixidor on June 24, 1728. The couple had five sons and two daughters. In accordance to Catalan civil law, the oldest brother, Josep Antoni, was named heir to the Alberni estate, including the right to use the title of notary public. The remaining siblings received a small amount of money. For this reason, the rest of the brothers joined the military service. One brother, Gerònim, went to the Regiment of Córdoba; the other two, Joan Bautista and Jaume Pascual, joined the Foreign Volunteer Regiment. One of the sisters became a nun. Pedro joined Spain's Second Regiment of the Light Infantry on July 17, 1762 to fight as a cadet in the campaign of Portugal during the Seven Years' War when he was only fifteen years old. He remained with this regiment for five years, after which he joined the Free Company of Volunteers of Catalonia (Compañía Franca de Voluntarios de Cataluña), an independent military unit composed of Miquelets (Catalan irregular troops).

From Cádiz to New Spain

In 1767, the Company was sent on a transatlantic journey to the colony of New Spain. The objective of the mission was to defend the Inner Northern Provinces of New Spain (Provincias Internas del Norte de Nueva España) from the natives' insurgences. These provinces ran from modern day Guanajuato to New Mexico and from Sonora to Texas.

On May 2, 1767, the Company sailed from Cádiz, Spain, to Cuba, and then to Veracruz, New Spain. Composed of 98 soldiers under the command of Captain Agustí Callis and three other officials: Pere Fages, Estevan de Vilaseca and the Alberni, they arrived at their destination on August of that same year. After Veracruz, the Company moved to Guaymas, Sonora, where they arrived in April 1768, after having crossed Mexico City, Tepic and San Blas. The trip took almost one year from Barcelona, where they had departed, to Guaymas.

In Sonora and California

Shortly after their arriving in Guaymas, the company, under the command of Colonel Domingo Elizondo were sent to fight against the rebel natives of Pima and Seri, and participate in a campaign in Cerro Prieto. After successfully finishing this campaign, Alberni and the rest of the company were sent to Mexico City and Guadalajara. After that, Alberni was commander in the province of Nayarit for seven years.

In 1772, the company was divided between the First Free Company of Volunteers of Catalonia, which remained under the command of Captain Callis, and the Second, which was under the command of Pedro Fages. Fages and a detachment of 25 traveled to Alta California in 1769 as part of the Portola expedition, under the command of Gaspar de Portola. The detachment remained in Alta California, stationed at the Presidio of Monterey, and Fages was appointed to succeed Portola as military governor in 1770. When Callis died in 1782, Alberni was named Captain of the First Company.

Way to the Pacific Northwest

Spanish fort San Miguel at Nootka in 1793
Reconstruction of Fort San Miguel.
Cook-nooyks
A view of the Habitations in Nootka Sound. In: "A Collection of Voyages round te World ... Captain Cook's First, Second, Third and Last Voyages ...." Volume V, London, 1790, page 1767.
Vancouver-friendly-cove
Friendly Cove, Nootka Sound. Volume I, plate VII from: "A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean and Round the World" by Captain George Vancouver.

In 1789, the Viceroy of New Spain Manuel Antonio Flórez, ordered the First Company of the First Free Company of Volunteers of Catalonia, under Alberni, to prepare to move to San Blas for onward transportation to Nootka Sound, on Vancouver Island, to reinforce the fortified post that had been established by Esteban José Martínez in May 1789. Martínez had sent a request for two hundred infantry, but before any reinforcements could be sent Martínez abandoned Nootka Sound, in October 1789, due to the crisis that arose after Martínez seized some British and American ships that were trading in the region and, some time later, killed Callicum, a close relative of the Nuu-chah-nulth chieftain Maquinna. Before the abandonment of Nootka was known, the King of Spain issued the Royal Order of April 14, 1789, requiring the establishment at Nootka to be maintained. In 1790, therefore, Nootka was reoccupied by an expedition under the command of Francisco de Eliza. Alberni's soldiers sailed with Eliza. At Nootka, they rebuilt and enlarged the artillery battery called Fort San Miguel.[1]

The seizure of the English ships sparked the Nootka Controversy, which almost led to a war between Spain and England over the issue of sovereignty in the Pacific Northwest. Spain had sent a number of expeditions to the region, starting with the 1774 voyage of Juan Pérez, in order to reinforce the Spanish claim to the entire west coast of North America.

In October 1789 Juan Vicente de Güemes, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo replaced Flores as the Viceroy of New Spain and Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra became commandant of the San Blas naval department, responsible for all naval operations north of Mexico. Together they organized the expedition to reoccupy Nootka Sound. On 7 December 1789 Revillagigedo ordered the First Company of the Catalan Volunteers to move to San Blas. The company consisted of about 80 soldiers when at full strength and was under the command of Captain Pedro de Alberni, who had just been appointed in Guadalajara. The soldiers began their march from Guadalajara on 1 January 1790. They sailed from San Blas with the Eliza expedition. The squadron was made up of three ships: the Concepción, under the command of Eliza, the San Carlos, under the command of Salvador Fidalgo, and the Princesa Real, under the command of Manuel Quimper. They left San Blas on February 3, 1790, and arrived at Nootka Sound on April 5.[1]

During the trip to Nootka Sound, Alberni was confined to his cabin on the Concepción for 70 days as a result of a dispute with a high ranking Spanish officer. In the course of this disagreement, he defended the rights of his men, demanding they be adequately clothed and armed, as well as to be paid all of the back-pay owed them. Probably for that reason, he would not be appointed as Governor of California later on.

When Alberni arrived at Nootka he had to rebuild the artillery battery fortification that had been dismantled after Martínez left. The reconstruction of the battery was difficult. It was built on top of a rocky island—tall but small. Embrasures had to be built to support the guns. It then took four days to emplace eight large cannons. Later, six smaller cannons were also emplaced. The battery did not have enough space for the remaining eight large cannon Eliza had brought, so they were stored ashore.[2]

Alberni built barracks, a house for the commanding officers, a house for the captain, ovens, furnaces, an infirmary, and cultivated various fruits and vegetables to provide food supplies for the garrison. He was the first European to cultivate a vegetable garden in the modern-day British Columbia. He also made a registry of recorded temperatures, created a dictionary of 630 native words with their equivalents in Spanish, and brewed beer using conifer bark in an attempt to prevent scurvy. In short, he built, organized, and administrated the fort and land defenses of the Nootka settlement for the well-being of its inhabitants and the travelers that arrived at its port. Many of his men from the Catalan Company participated in exploration expeditions in Alaska and Juan de Fuca Strait, along with Spanish explorers from other companies.

All the data that Alberni compiled was later used by José Mariano Mociño, a New Spain-born naturalist, and the author of Noticias de Nootka (Spanish for "News from Nootka"), who was in the Bodega-Quadra expedition of 1792 and with Alessandro Malaspina in 1791 on his grand scientific voyage. According to Mociño, Alberni gained the esteem and respect of those around him, including the natives, whom he flattered with a poem, dedicated to their chief, Maquinna, with music of the Mambrú, a Spanish song, adapted from the French song Marlbrough s'en va-t-en guerre, originally from the War of the Spanish Succession. The lyrics of the song go:

Macuina, Macuina, Macuina,
He's a great prince, friend of us
Spain, Spain, Spain
Is friend of Macuina and Nootka

This song became so popular in the region, that José María Narváez heard it from the natives in the other side of Nootka Island and near Point Grey (Narváez arrived at what today is the city of Vancouver, one year before the English captain George Vancouver). Alberni's sojourn at Nootka coincided with a period of major activity of Spanish explorers and travelers from other nations in the region.

Return to Mexico

Once Alberni had accomplished his task, and after having been in the fort for two years, he received the order to return with his company to the Maritime Department of San Blas. He was given, by royal order through the Viceroy of New Spain Revillagigedo, the title of Governor and Commander of Arms of Fort San Miguel in Nootka Island.

In July 1792 he was named lieutenant-colonel, and after his assignment in Nootka, he was sent to the Castle of San Juan de Ulúa for eight months, in Veracruz, as commander of the fort and as Lieutenant-Colonel of the King for the Plaza de Veracruz. After that, Alberni was sent to Guadalajara for two years.

To California

In April 1796, by order of the Viceroy of New Spain Miguel de la Grúa Talamanca y Branciforte, marqués de Branciforte, he and his company of 72 men returned to California to take care of the Spanish military garrisons of Monterey, Santa Bárbara, San Diego and San Francisco. In 1800 he was appointed the Interim Governor of California and commander of the four military garrisons that Spain had in California (Monterey, Santa Bárbara, San Diego and San Francisco), until a new governor was assigned. He remained in California until his death.

Death

Alberni died of dropsy at the age of 55 in Monterey, Alta California, on March 11, 1802. He was buried at the Royal Chapel of San Carlos in Monterey, California. Today, his remains probably lie under the highway that was built nearby, because his tomb was never found. Alberni's will, dated December 16, 1801, leaves everything to his wife, Juana Vélez, a native of Tepic, México. The only daughter they had predeceased him. Sergeant Joaquín Tico from the Volunteers of Catalonia was executor of his will.

Legacy

Alberni was a person with a strong, courageous, diplomatic character, who knew how to manage problems, even in difficult times. There are numerous places named after him in both Canada and Spain:

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Tovell, Freeman M. (2008). At the Far Reaches of Empire: The Life of Juan Francisco De La Bodega Y Quadra. University of British Columbia Press. pp. 130–137, 148. ISBN 978-0-7748-1367-9.
  2. ^ At the Far Reaches of Empire, pp. 144, 150-151

Further reading

Cusco School

The Cusco School (Escuela Cuzqueña) or Cuzco School, was a Roman Catholic artistic tradition based in Cusco, Peru (the former capital of the Inca Empire) during the Colonial period, in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. It was not limited to Cuzco only, but spread to other cities in the Andes, as well as to present day Ecuador and Bolivia.There are high amount of Cusco School's paintings preserved, currently most of them are located at Cusco, but also currently there are in the rest of Peru and in museums of Brazil, England and United States.

Diego de Borica

Diego de Borica (1742–1800) was a Basque Spanish explorer and the seventh governor of Alta California from 1794 to 1800.

Esteban José Martínez Fernández y Martínez de la Sierra

Esteban José Martínez Fernández y Martínez de la Sierra, or simply Esteban José Martínez (1742–1798) was a Spanish navigator and explorer, native of Seville. He was a key figure in the Spanish exploration of the Pacific Northwest.

Free Company of Volunteers of Catalonia

The Free Company of Volunteers of Catalonia (Spanish: Compañía Franca de Voluntarios de Cataluña, Catalan: Companyia Franca de Voluntaris de Catalunya) was a military company of the Spanish Army serving in the Spanish colonial empire.

Hernán Venegas Carrillo

Hernán Venegas Carrillo Manosalvas (c.1513 – 2 February 1583) was a Spanish conquistadorfor who participated in the Spanish conquest of the Muisca and Panche people in the New Kingdom of Granada, present-day Colombia. Venegas Carrillo was mayor of Santa Fe de Bogotá for two terms; in 1542 and from 1543 to 1544.

José Joaquín de Arrillaga

José Joaquín de Arrillaga was an officer of Basque origin born in Aia, Spain, who went on to become seventh (1792-1794) and tenth (1800–1814) governor of Alta California.

Lacandola Documents

The term "Lacandola Documents" is used by Philippine Historiographers to describe the section of the Spanish Archives in Manila which are dedicated to the genealogical records (cuadernos de linaje) of the "Manila aristocracy" from the period immediately following European colonial contact. As of 2001, only one bundle of twelve folders (containing eleven distinct sets of documents) remains in the archive, the rest having been lost, misplaced, or destroyed by various events such as the Japanese Occupation of Manila during World War II. The surviving bundle is labeled "Decendientes de Don Carlos Lacandola" (Descendants of Don Carlos Lakandula), and scholars use the term "Lacandola Documents" as an informal shortcut.Scholars specializing in the noble houses of Rajah Matanda, Rajah Sulayman, and Lakandula mostly use these documents in conjunction with the Archivo General de Indias (General Archive of the Indies) in Seville, Spain in studying the genealogies of these "noble houses." Other primary sources frequently referred to by historiographers are the Silsila or Tarsilas of Sulu, Maguindanao, and Brunei, and local records (usually Catholic parish registers) of towns where descendants of the three houses may have moved.

Maquinna

For the underwater mud volcano, see Maquinna (volcano).Maquinna (also transliterated Muquinna, Macuina, Maquilla) was the chief of the Nuu-chah-nulth people of Nootka Sound, during the heyday of the maritime fur trade in the 1780s and 1790s on the Pacific Northwest Coast. The name means "possessor of pebbles". His people are today known as the Mowachaht and reside today with their kin, the Muchalaht, at Gold River, British Columbia, Canada.

Miquelet (militia)

Miquelets or Micalets (Catalan pronunciation: [mikəˈlɛts]; Spanish: Migueletes) were irregular Catalan and Valencian mountain light troops. They enjoyed a certain prominence in the wars in the Iberian Peninsula during the 17th and 18th centuries, and in peace seem to have on occasion plundered travellers.

Nootka Crisis

The Nootka Crisis, also known as the Spanish Armament, was an international incident and political dispute between the Spanish Empire, the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the fledgling United States of America triggered by a series of events that took place during the summer of 1789 at Nootka Sound in present-day British Columbia, Canada. Spanish coastguards seized some British commercial ships engaged in the fur trade at an uncolonized coastline area to which Spain claimed ownership. Britain rejected the Spanish claims and used its greatly superior naval power to threaten a war and win the dispute. Spain, a rapidly fading military power, was unable to depend upon its longtime ally, France, which was in the throes of the French Revolution.

Nootka Sound is a network of inlets on the west coast of Vancouver Island, today part of Canada's British Columbia. The crisis revolved around sovereignty claims and rights of navigation and trade. Between 1774 and 1789, Spain sent several expeditions to the Pacific Northwest to reassert its long-held navigation and territorial claims to the area. By 1776, these expeditions had reached as far north as Bucareli Bay and Sitka Sound. Territorial rights were asserted according to acts of sovereignty – customary of the time.

However, some years later, several British fur-trading vessels entered the area to which Spain had laid claim. A complex series of events led to these British vessels being seized by the Spanish Navy at Nootka Sound. When the news reached Europe, Britain requested compensation, and the Spanish government refused. Both sides prepared for war and sought assistance from allies. The crisis was resolved peacefully but with difficulty through a set of three agreements, known collectively as the Nootka Conventions (1790–95). British subjects were then enabled to trade up to ten leagues from parts of the coast already occupied by Spain and could form trade-related settlements in unoccupied areas. Spain surrendered to Britain many of its trade and territorial claims in the Pacific, ending a two hundred-year monopoly on Asian-Pacific trade. The outcome was a victory for the mercantile interests of Britain and opened the way to British expansion in the Pacific. Spain no longer played a role north of California and transferred its historic claims to the United States in the Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819.

Quito School

The Quito School (Escuela Quiteña) is a Latin American artistic tradition that constitutes essentially the whole of the professional artistic output developed in the territory of the Royal Audience of Quito — from Pasto and Popayán in the north to Piura and Cajamarca in the south — during the Spanish colonial period (1542-1824). It is especially associated with the 17th and 18th centuries and was almost exclusively focused on the religious art of the Catholic Church in the country. Characterized by a mastery of the realistic and by the degree to which indigenous beliefs and artistic traditions are evident, these productions were among of the most important activities in the economy of the Royal Audience of Quito. Such was the prestige of the movement even in Europe that it was said that King Carlos III of Spain (1716–1788), referring to one of its sculptors in particular, opined: "I am not concerned that Italy has Michelangelo; in my colonies of America I have the master Caspicara".

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈalβaɾ ˈnũɲeθ kaˈβeθa ðe ˈβaka]; Jerez de la Frontera, c. 1488/1490/1492 – Seville, c. 1557/1558/1559/1560) was a Spanish explorer of the New World, and one of four survivors of the 1527 Narváez expedition. During eight years of traveling across the US Southwest, he became a trader and faith healer to various Native American tribes before reconnecting with Spanish civilization in Mexico in 1536. After returning to Spain in 1537, he wrote an account, first published in 1542 as La relación y comentarios ("The Account and Commentaries"), which in later editions was retitled Naufragios ("Shipwrecks"). Cabeza de Vaca is sometimes considered a proto-anthropologist for his detailed accounts of the many tribes of Native Americans that he encountered.

In 1540, Cabeza de Vaca was appointed adelantado of what is now Argentina, where he was governor and captain general of New Andalusia. He worked to build up the population of Buenos Aires, where settlement had declined due to poor administration. Cabeza de Vaca was transported to Spain for trial in 1545. Although his sentence was eventually commuted, he never returned to the Americas. He died in Seville.

Under Spain
(1769–1822)
Under Mexico
(1822–1846)
Under U.S. military
(1846–1850)
Pre-statehood
(1849–1850)
U.S. state
(since 1850)

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