Pere d'Alberní i Teixidor

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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 by Diego de Borica
Succeeded by José Joaquín de Arrillaga
Personal details
BornJanuary 30, 1747
Tortosa, Catalonia, Spain
DiedMarch 11, 1802(1802-03-11) (aged 55)
Monterey, California
Spouse(s)Juana Vélez
Profession Explorer, soldier

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.

Don, abbreviated as D., is an honorific prefix primarily used in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and the Philippines.

Catalan language Romance language

Catalan is a Western Romance language derived from Vulgar Latin and named after the medieval Principality of Catalonia, in northeastern modern Spain. It is the only official language of Andorra, and a co-official language of the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencia. It also has semi-official status in the Italian comune of Alghero. It is also spoken in the eastern strip of Aragon, in some villages of Region of Murcia called Carche and in the Pyrénées-Orientales department of France. These territories are often called Països Catalans or "Catalan Countries".

Tortosa Municipality in Catalonia, Spain

Tortosa is the capital of the comarca of Baix Ebre, in Catalonia, Spain.

Contents

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).

Nobility privileged social class

Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately under royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy. Nobility possesses more acknowledged privileges and higher social status than most other classes in society. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be largely honorary, and vary by country and era. As referred to in the Medieval chivalric motto "noblesse oblige", nobles can also carry a lifelong duty to uphold various social responsibilities, such as honorable behavior, customary service, or leadership positions. Membership in the nobility, including rights and responsibilities, is typically hereditary.

Catalonia Autonomous area of northeastern Spain

Catalonia is an autonomous community on the northeastern corner of Spain, designated as a nationality by its Statute of Autonomy Catalonia consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. The capital and largest city is Barcelona, the second-most populated municipality in Spain and the core of the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union. It comprises most of the territory of the former Principality of Catalonia. It is bordered by France (Occitanie) and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the Spanish autonomous communities of Aragon to the west and Valencia to the south. The official languages are Catalan, Spanish, and the Aranese dialect of Occitan.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

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.

Colony territory under the political control of an overseas state, generally with its own subordinate colonial government

In history, a colony is a territory under the immediate complete political control and occupied by settlers of a state, distinct from the home territory of the sovereign. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception.

New Spain kingdom of the Spanish Empire (1535-1821)

The Viceroyalty of New Spain was an integral territorial entity of the Spanish Empire, established by Habsburg Spain during the Spanish colonization of the Americas. It covered a huge area that included territories in North America, South America, Asia and Oceania. It originated in 1521 after the fall of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the main event of the Spanish conquest, which did not properly end until much later, as its territory continued to grow to the north. It was officially created on 8 March 1535 as a Kingdom, the first of four viceroyalties Spain created in the Americas. Its first viceroy was Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, and the capital of the kingdom was Mexico City, established on the ancient Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

Guanajuato State of Mexico

Guanajuato, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Guanajuato, is one of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, are the 32 federal entities of Mexico. It is divided into 46 municipalities and its capital city is Guanajuato. The largest city in the state is León.

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.

Cádiz Municipality in Andalusia, Spain

Cádiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the Province of Cádiz, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia.

Cuba Country in the Caribbean

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometers (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometers (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.

Guaymas city in Sonora, Mexico

Guaymas is a city in Guaymas Municipality, in the southwest part of the state of Sonora, in northwestern Mexico. The city is 117 km south of the state capital of Hermosillo, and 242 miles from the U.S. border. The municipality is located on the Gulf of California and the western edge of the Sonoran Desert and has a hot, dry climate and 117 km of beaches. The municipality’s formal name is Guaymas de Zaragoza and the city’s formal name is the Heróica Ciudad de 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.

Domingo Elizondo was a Spanish soldier from Navarre who lived in the late 18th century.

Pima people Native American peoples

The Pima are a group of Native Americans living in an area consisting of what is now central and southern Arizona. The majority population of the surviving two bands of the Akimel Oʼodham are based in two reservations: the Keli Akimel Oʼotham on the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) and the On'k Akimel Oʼodham on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC).

Seri people ethnic group

The Seri are an indigenous group of the Mexican state of Sonora. The majority reside on the Seri communal property, in the towns of Punta Chueca and El Desemboque on the mainland coast of the Gulf of California. Tiburón Island (Tahejöc) and San Esteban Island were also part of their traditional territory. They were historically seminomadic hunter-gatherers who maintained an intimate relationship with both the sea and the land. They are one of the ethnic groups of Mexico that has most strongly maintained their language and culture throughout the years after contact with Spanish and Mexican cultures.

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.

Pedro Fages was a Spanish soldier, explorer, first Lieutenant Governor of the Californias under Gaspar de Portolá, and second (1770–74) and fifth (1782–91) Governor of Alta California.

Alta California province of New Spain

Alta California, known sometimes unofficially as Nueva California, California Septentrional, California del Norte or California Superior, began in 1804 as a province of New Spain. Along with the Baja California peninsula, it had previously comprised the province of Las Californias, but was split off into a separate province in 1804. Following the Mexican War of Independence, it became a territory of Mexico in April 1822 and was renamed "Alta California" in 1824. The claimed territory included all of the modern US states of California, Nevada and Utah, and parts of Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

Way to the Pacific Northwest

Nootka Sound marked in Vancouver Island. Nootka Sound NASA.PNG
Nootka Sound marked in Vancouver Island.
Reconstruction of Fort San Miguel. Spanish fort San Miguel at Nootka in 1793.jpg
Reconstruction of Fort San Miguel.
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. Cook-nooyks.jpg
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.
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. Vancouver-friendly-cove.jpg
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 islandtall 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

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References

  1. 1 2 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