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  The maps and the Historical Description of fray Pedro González de Agüeros: Last shreds of the Chiloe´s missionary cartography in the XVIII Century. (Part 2)

6. The Maps of the Chiloe Archipelago by Fray González de Agüeros

The historian Isidoro Vázquez de Acuña, says that in each authority, missionary or explorer who settles 
in Chiloé, exists a kind of telluric impulse that “makes them interested in the archipelago and its people, 
beyond the fulfillment of their mission” ((Vázquez de Acuña, 1988:8)[1] Pedro González de Agüeros 
was not unaware of this spell and years later, in 1789, physically far from the archipelago, he offered 
the Minister of the Indies to write a Description of Chiloé, fundamentally motivated by the cartographic
 tradition developed in the college of Ocopa.  This proverbial habit, had its origin in the establishment
 of new missions that went into the Amazon jungle and where it was reached by lost roads.
 To rationalize the travel records, maps began to be drawn in the convent. Friar José Amich,
 a Barcelonan, pilot of the Royal Navy, introduced Cartography in Ocopa in 1747. He also worked
 rebuilding the fortress of Callao, after the 1746 earthquake. Amich enters the Ocopa school around 
1750, being also its first historian. The historian Mrs. Carmen Montaner says that through these maps
 the Franciscans “provided for the first time graphic information of unknown territories for the
 Crown”, and that the King of Spain began to say "thanks to the Franciscan missionaries, graphic
 information of a territory that belonged to him, but he ignored"  the maps, adds Mrs. Montaner, 
"constituted an important proof of justification of the missionary work of the Franciscans of Ocopa 
to the King, their main sponsor" These maps were copied in Ocopa and sent to the Viceroy of Peru 
and the King of Spain. Therefore, they are mainly preserved in the documentary repositories in Spain. 
(Montaner, 2018:4).
      A recent publication by Professor David Rex Galindo, refers to the writings of González de Agüeros, showing him as an advocate of the Bourbon reform program on the borders, where the missions of the Ocopa college were located, and how these missions and their missionaries were "institutions of the imperial expansion, colonization and evangelization" strengthening Hispanic rules in the Bourbon period. The author says that González de Agüeros echoed this in his studies, as evidenced by the letters and reports reserved for the Council of the Indies and the monarch; where the religious pragmatist tunes the reformism of the Bourbons. Rex points out that the work of González de Agüeros offers "a perspective of the dynamics that, both locally and globally, affected the southernmost peripheral regions of Spanish America at the end of the 18th century" (Rex, 2020:156).
7. The Maps
 There are three maps of the Province of Chiloé made by González de Agüeros:
a. The first, dated 1785, is a sheet of 29x42 centimeters with a box formed by a thick red and blue
 line that distinctly mark the quarters of a geographical degree in both, latitude and longitude. In the
 lower right corner,, a box with the signature of the drawing "Map of the Province of Chiloé in the 
Kingdom of Chile and the number of its inhabitants"; in the same box the number of inhabitants of 
each parish and its head is indicated. For the contours of the coast, a double gouache line of almagre
 and blue color was used, it has a marked scale of ten leagues; relief is shown with shaded hills. The
 original is in the Archivo General de Indias, Seville, signed as
 ES: 41091. AGI/MP-PERU-CHILE 222.
b. Also dated in 1785, the map entitled "Description of the Province and Archipelago of Chiloé, in the kingdom of Chile and Bishopric of La Concepción": It is a  29 x 42 centimeters sheet with slight differences in the outline of the coasts of the previous map , it does not indicate reliefs, the color of the lines in almagre with a blue gouache. The scale is 10 leagues, it has a yellow box with a lower tricolor line that divides each parallel into sixths. The toponymy is similar to the previous one. The original that González de Agüeros calls Map No. 5, is in the Royal Academy of History in Madrid and has been published in volume 5 of the History of the Franciscan Missions in Eastern Peru, from which we extracted the fragment of the figure 2 below.

Fig. 2 Fray Pedro González de Agüeros´ Map  Legend: “Descripción de la Provincia y
 Archipiélago de Chiloé, en el reino de Chile y Obispado de la Concepción”. (1785[1]).
c. A third map, the most widespread of all, is the printed Geographical Map, contained in the Historical Description Book. Its size is 51 x 71 cm, and it was engraved by Francisco Ugena. On page 248 of the Description, the author says that it was made according to a map that was sent to King Carlos III by the Viceroy of Peru in 1752. It is likely that such map was made by Mateo Abraham Evrard, an Englishman residing in Chiloé (Vázquez de Acuña, 1988). From a brief reading of the graph of this map we point out: It has an outer box where the parallels and meridians are indicated; It ranges from 41°25" - 43°22" south latitude and 72°20”- 74°” west longitude. The scale is 20 leagues per degree. On its upper right corner, a poster leafily framed by laurels, in the upper part, the coat of arms of Bourbon Spain with palms and laurel branches and a lower oval with the Coat of Arms of the Order of San Francisco.The north is indicated with the lis needle, located to the East of the Big Island. The town of Castro in the center, appears hierarchical with a tower and a farmhouse; the ports are marked by an anchor: the toponyms of the chapels are shown in a small circle, the fortresses are small circle with four stems and a banderole; the shoals are dotted and the reefs marked with crosses. Small shaded lines indicate the topography of the land, the forests are represented by trees and the elevations of the terrestrial relief by hills shaded to the south; such as the Guanaca Volcano (today Calbuco,) and the hills of the Cordillera de la Costa called the Cucao Tits.
8. The Cartographer and Map No. 5
The first map of Chiloé that González de Agüero developed contains the 
entire Province and the Archipelago, he drew it according to the observations
made on the islands and their populations during his residence in that place.
He did the observation work downton the city of Castro, located in the middle
of the Big Island and from that place he took the directions of all the islands
and towns. Resident on the Island of Quenac, from there, he observed the
situations of the the islands Meullín, Quenac, Quinchao, Linlin, Linao, Las
Chauques islands; those of Alao, Apiao and Cahulinéc: Later, by order of the
Viceroy of Lima, he became the Royal Chaplain of the Port
of Plaza de San Carlos, taking charge of the Port and Fort of Chacao. In his
four years of residence, he studied the conditions of the Port of San Carlos
and its entire coast, including the Teque and Aguí fortresses. He also visited 
Carelmapu and the Maullín Fort, located on the mainland.
He traveled by sea with the Governor from San Carlos to the city of Castro,
Chonchi; taking notes of the coasts and the islands of Lemuy, Chelín, Quegüi
and Imelec; He also traveled to all the islands and towns of the Partido de
Calbuco to the North of Castro: and with all this information he drew Map No.
5; later, consulted the pilot Francisco Machado, it was included in the general
maps of South America, and in
particular, on the map that Francisco Noriega drew from Callao to Chiloé in
1779; "I placed the islands in their respective directions, according to
the compass rose with the needle placed in the city of Castro, giving variation
to the Northeast", he says. Then he arrived at the Court, drew two Maps of
the Archipelago, sent them for consultation to the franciscan priests José
Tortosa and Narciso Villar, who had been in Chiloé and knew the entire
Archipelago and its populations, while exercising their ministry in the
circular mission. The responses of the priests proved that the map represented
what they saw and observed there (Izaguirre, 1923).

Fig. 3 Fray Pedro González de Agüeros: "Mapa de la provincia y archipiélago de Chiloé, en el Reino de Chile, Obispado de la Concepción, de la Orden de San Francisco, ex-Guardián del Colegio de Ocopa, en el Perú, Arzobispado de Lima, dedicado a nuestro Católico Monarca Don Carlos IV"

9. Viscissitudes
In 1971 Agüeros obtains from the Royal and Supreme Council of the Indies 
and the Court, the license to print his Historical Description of Chiloé.
He had previously submitted his manuscript to the Royal Academy of History
 by order of the Monarch. The academics made slight recommendations about
 his work, but authorized its publication, "to clarify to a large extent 
the geography of a little-known Country and whose well-observed products 
will contribute to the promotion of our construction and commerce” 
(Vásquez de Acuña, 1988: 22).
Once the authorization was obtained, Pedro González de Agüeros again requested authorization to add an extract from a Franciscan expedition to Tahiti. Once the permission was obtained, it also included the Diary of the pilot Francisco Machado's expedition to the Guaitecas and Guayaneco Archipelagos; which caused a serious incident for the circulation of the book. This, due to the fact that Machado's story had not circumvented the censorship of the Royal Academy of History, nor of other competent authorities. What had happened? As soon as the books were published by the famous Benito Cano´s  publishing house , Agüeros sent some copies to members of the royal family and ministers of State. In the Court an intemperate alarm was unleashed by the fear that the English would find out about the few and simple news that the Spanish sailor declared. The Supreme Board of State, as in a reverse of irony for the Inquisitor of Books, ordered to suspend the publication and sale of the Historical Description; apart from asking the author for the number of copies published and to whom they had been distributed. Gozález de Agüeros presented a protection appeal, in which he demonstrates the little importance of Machado's document, realizing that the cited data were widely known by the enemies of Spain; and that they had even better and more exact directions on the coasts of southern Chiloé. Therefore, in a new analysis, the ban was lifted.
As Agüeros had witnessed some negative practices of the Chiloé´s administration, he sent the King several files with reserved documentation, in which he expressed the monarch information that had not been published in the Description, because he did not want it to be of public knowledge. "A real patriot", as Vázquez de Acuña says.
 10. Final Comments
 Thanks to the work of González de Agüero, the cartographic work of 
the Franciscans in Chiloé has been fruitful. Since, through the 
publication of his Historical Description and the printed Maps he
 attached, Chiloé began to come out of anonymity, as well as, they 
left an important legacy of great historical value.


1.- GONZÁLEZ DE AGÜEROS, Pedro (1791): Descripción historial de la provincia y archipiélago de Chiloé, en el reyno de Chile,

y obispado de la Concepción. Madrid: Imprenta de Don Benito Cano

2.- GUARDA, Gabriel y MORENO Jeria, Rodrigo (2008): Monumenta Cartographica Chiloensia: Misión, territorio y defensa 1596-1826 Santiago de Chile. Corporación Amigos del Patrimonio Cultural de Chile. 2008

3.- IZAGUIRRE, Bernardino O. F. M (1923): Historia de las Misiones franciscanas en el oriente del Perú Tomo Quinto 1782-1792. Lima

Talleres Tipográficos de la Penitenciarìa.

4.- MORENO Jeria, Rodrigo (2013): “Los franciscanos de propaganda fide en Chiloé colonial” : Revista Archivum Año X Nº 11 p. 307-316

5.- MONTANER, Carme (2019): “Dibujos figurativos en los mapas de los franciscanos de Ocopa (Perú) de la segunda mitad del siglo XVIII”:  Geocrítica. Revista Bibliográfica de Geografía y Ciencias Sociales Universitat de Barcelona 

Vol XXIV N° 1264 Recovered from

6.- REX Galindo, David (2020): “Imperio desde los márgenes: Un estudio de la obra de fray Pedro González de Agüeros y sus planes

reformistas de las fronteras del sur de la América meridional a finales del siglo XVIII”. IN: Anuario de Historia de América Latina

N° 57 pp. 153-189

7.- TAMPEEduardo (1981): Tres siglos de misiones en Chiloé. Santiago Editorial Salesiana

8.- URBINA B., Rodolfo (1990): Las misiones franciscanas de Chiloé a fines del siglo XVIII: 1771-1800 Valparaíso

9.- VAZQUEZ DE ACUÑA, Isidoro (1988): González de Agüeros, Pedro: Descripción Historial de Chiloé. Introducción y notas de Isidoro Vásquez de Acuña Santiago Instituto de Investigaciones del Patrimonio Territorial de Chile.

[1] Translated by Jeannette V. Ortíz 

[2] The "Cuarto de Indias"  Headquarters of the General Commissioner of the Indies of the Franciscan

Order of the Convent of San Francisco el Grande in Madrid.

[3] Don Isidoro Vazquez de Acuña was the biographer and editor  of Fray Gonzàlez de Agüeros in the

publication of the facsimile´s re-issue containing a documentary appendix of the Historical Description

carried out by the Chilean Territorial Heritage Research Institute. Santiago 1988

[4] Insert in: History of the Franciscan Mission in Eastern, Peru - Volume V 1782-1792 (1923)
[5] National Library of Chile 


 The maps and the Historical Description of fray Pedro González de Agüeros: Last shreds of the Chiloe´s missionary cartography in the XVIII Century.

 José Mansilla-Utchal Almonacid

Master in History UJI Es

Industrial Engineer IACC Chile


After the expulsion of the Jesuits from Chile, the Chiloe´s catholic missions were served by Franciscans from Santa Rosa de Ocopa (Perú).  The Company of Jesus had evangelized, using the “circular mission”; an annual tour around the islands, with priests who traveled whether, on foot or in fragile boats to serve their parishioners.

 To reinforce its presence and domain in the Archipelago, the Franciscans will continue this practice and also the use of cartography for their missionary activities, so as to control the missionary spaces. Friar Pedro González de Agúeros arrived to Chiloé in 1771.  During his 6 years of permanence in the province, he acquired knowledge about the insular reality and reflected it in the maps and his text Historical Description.  One of the maps was attached to the Description, whose publication in 1791, resulted in serious inconveniences to  the Supreme State Board, which ordered its suspension, because it could contain information on the southern territory; therefore, could be used by the enemies of Spain.

 In these maps, there is a return to the primitive cartography. However, the geographical space of the Archipelago, provides González with an amount of data, cataloged and described in the Description.  The text developed from the observation practice, also tries to understand the borderland reality, which became the greatest articulation of the chilote space.

 Key words:

 Chiloé, González de Agüeros, Cartography, Franciscans.

1. Introduction[1]

The topic of this study is an approach to the cartographic work carried out by the Franciscan missionary Pedro González de Agüeros, related to Chiloé and originated in Chiloé during his stay in the Archipelago between 1771 and 1777 and later, developed in Madrid with intermittence periods, over the last decades of the XVIII century. This is made up of the production of some Maps of the Archipelago and the text on the Province Historical description and Archipelago of Chiloé published in 1791, being this, the only book published on the Archipelago in the XVIII century.

Chiloé, a strategic point on the western flank of the South Pacific, located on the periphery of the Spanish Empire, with the maze of islands and its rugged coastal geography,was of great importance for the first expeditions, as well as the subsequent occupation by Europeans. Due to its proximity to the Strait of Magellan, it was a natural inter-oceanic gate; so, its location was relevant for the defense of the viceroyalty of Peru, as well as the entire Pacific coast, against threats to the Spanish Crown´s enemies. This explains in some way, the robust cartographic documents, existing about Chiloé during the Hispanic period. Chiloé was also the first human settlement found in those latitudes.

The island started to appear on the general maps of the continent, by the beginning of the XVII century, a draft of its costs, which is a cartographic testimony of the devastating dutch corsair invasion commanded by Baltazar de Cordes (Guarda et al, 2008).

The Cartography production has a strategic origin, carried out by foreign spies and hispanic explorers who appeared sporadicly visiting the southern part of Chile, with the only intention to invade the territory. Long lists were found of land and sea explorations towards the South and East outskirt lands of the archipelago. Soldiers, austral aborigene, missioners, sailed from Gran Island to recognize the territory, participating in these activities under the supervision of the chilean government and vicerroyalty or expedtions held by the local island authorities.

The elements or instruments used to produce the field cartographic elaboration differ in quality and technical accuracy – from the most sophisticated- used by Malaspina- to the most rudimentary used by the missioners and José de Moraleda, himself.

 2. Missional Cartography

 The ecclesiastical presence with franciscan priests and mercedarios was seen from the beginning of the hispanic settlement in Chiloé. Later, in the first decade of the XVII century with the arrival of the Jesuits, a fruitful evangelizador work will be deveoped in the Archipelago. The Jesuits established a singular evangelizing system: the circulating mission.  The missional center was located in the little village in Castro. From that place, rowing fragile boats: the dalcas chilotas, or simply going on foot, two priests sailed on ship covering almost 75 chapels spread over the territory; from september to the end of may, next year. The Jesuit evangelists remained for 3 or 4 days or a week carrying mobile altars with its religious images used to celebrate their religious ceremonies, teaching the Christian Doctrine, administrating sacraments, training the fiscales encharged of the chapels, and even settling disputes among the indigenous.  Their mission was also to annually register the number of indios, birth registration, marriages and deaths in every place they visited. The tour ended when the winter rains did not allowed to walk throughout the islands and channels. (Tampe, 1981).

To recognize the coastal routes, the Jesuits drew numerous maps containing important information contributing to the geographical knowledge of Chiloé. In 1646, Priest Alonso de Ovalle published a map of Chiloé with a quite real image of the territory.  As Ovalle never was in Chiloé, his maps must have been based on the previously existing maps of the epoch (Guarda et al, 2008).  It is presumed that all these important cartographic documents were stored in the Jesuit School in Castro; probably lost with the Jesuits expulsion from the country; only a few maps dealing with the evangelist-related mission of the Jesuits have been preserved.  

 3. Pedro González de Agüero and the Franciscan Presence in Chiloé.

 After the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Hispanic domains in 1768, the hispanic Crown urgently seeked for replacing the missioners, in order to deal with the native, mestiza, creolé population, and inhabitants scattered all over this region.The strategic importance of Chiloé was a great concern to the chilean and peruvian authorities. For that reason, after the expulsión of the Jesuits, at request of the Obispo de Concepción, it was ordered to replace them by the Franciscans of Colegio de San Idelfonso de Propaganda Fide from the city of Chillán.  However, their presence could not be sustainable and, in 1771, they left Chiloé; finally, they were replaced by the franciscans of Colegio de Propaganda Fide de Santa Rosa de Ocopa, Perú (Urbina, 1990).

On november 4th,1771, fifteen priests and seculars sailed from El Callao, peruvian port  heading to Chiloé, arriving at San Carlos (currently Ancud), on December 17th.  In tis place, head of the province government, Governor Carlos de Beranger assigned them the missions, which had been hosted by the Jesuits, transferring rooms and churches to the new misioners.  The new franciscans came from Ocopa – from Jauja – they found a poor territory, mostly native inhabitants, spread throughout the coasts and a rigurous climate, windy with heavy rains.

Besides, the isolation and uprooting of a territory incommunicated with the Spanish domains most part of the year, the difficulties shown by this southern reality increased. For these peruvian friars, to be a missioner, was not an easy task under these circumstances.

The pastoral scenario assumed by the friars in Chiloé counted on 81 chapels, spread along the east coast of Isla Grande, 26 on the islands of the interior sea, plus Tierra Firme de Carelmapu and Calbuco (Moreno, 2013).

 4. News from Fray Pedro González de Agüeros

 Among the franciscans commissioned to Chiloé, we find our character Pedro González de Agüero, who was destined to te Isla de Quenac. He came from Avila, became a priest of the Franciscan Order in Province of Seráfica de la Concepción de Castilla la Vieja. He arrived in Perú in 1768, Missioner in Lima, preacher of the Lent in the Lima´s cathedral, and then to Pampas; Jaujas, the following year, from there, assigned to Chiloé in 1771, he stayed on the Archipelago for six years, as per declarared himself in various official documents. In 1777 is assigned as Procurator of Missions in Perú, living in the Covento Máximo de Jesús en Lima. On June 29th, 1780, was elected Guardián del Colegio de Propaganda Fide de Santa Rosa de Santa María de Ocopa, responsible for the convent´s repair. In 1783, appointed Columnist to the Convento and Comisario del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición position held from 1784 to 1788.  Returned to Spain in 1784 as Procurator of the  Colegio de Ocopa and Comisario Conductor de Misioneros.  He requested in 1790, the Santo Oficio to be appointed Examiner, that is to say, the theologist encharge of censuring books and theological proposals.The latest reference we have on him is his “Reason of the missions I have worked for serving the religión and the State, from 1785, time I got to this Court”, signed “Cuarto de Indias”[2] in San Francisco de Madrid, on January 5th, 1794 (Izaguirre, 1923).  It is believed that he passed away circa 1800.

 5. González de Agüeros’s documental and representative work  

 In the practice of his priesthood, Pedro González de Agüeros remained in different chapels located on the islands of the interior sea, sporadicly in the Castro village, San Carlos de Ancud and in the adjacent territories to the latter village.  This situation, along with the privileged condition of being Royal Chaplain, allowed him to have access and be in knowledge of many echlesiastic, administrative, military and statistics issues about the Province; information and data used to spill in his works, published in Spain; as well as those reports he wrote  confidentially for the Royal and Supreme Consejo de Indias y la Corte.  On the document, year 1794 already mentioned, he briefs about his works on geographical kowledge he had accumulated and the mapoteca resulting from his stay in América.

The summary of the works described, whether, the published or the unpublished, appearing on Fig. 1 are:  In 1786 presented to the Supremo Consejo His work titled “Colección general de las expediciones practicadas por los religiosos de la provincia de Lima and my school de ocopa in Perú, in which he requests the conversion of the gentiles, with description of the situation of that school as well as his missions; showing 7 maps and the reports given by the misioners dead in the hands of the unfaithful for complying such holy ministery, it also includes the collection from 1645 to 1784 dedicated to N. Señor”.  The originals of this work are currently in the Royal Academy of History in Madrid and volumen 5 of the History on Franciscan mission in Eastern Peru has been partly published; written by Friar Bernardino Izaguirre. In 1789 written The Chronological Line is from 1789 by RRmos. Comisarios Generales de Yndias and the plan of the provinces with their convents and schools as well as Missionires and the number of souls in his charge,m my seraphic religion has…, this work dedicated to the King N. Señor.  In 1791, he published with the Royal Permission  another work entitled Apostolic Clamors to the religious of my Order in those provinces of Spain, requesting evangelical workers, who were reluctant to go to the Missions in Yndias to work in the conversión of the gentiles. In 1792, with the Royal Permission, he published in print, his monumental work, entitled Historical Description of the Chiloé Archipelago Province, which included the maps o all its islands and ports.

 His cartographic work, declared by himself, includes the following maps: 1) Coast from Callao de Lima at 12 degrees to Chiloé, at 44 degrees, showing of all its main ports. 2) Ports of Concepción and Valdivia 3) Departments of the Ocopa missions, divided into 7 parts 4) Part of the bishopric of Huamanga and the new Gentile missions established in 1782. These maps were delivered to the Marquis of Bajamar being secretary of state and also, to the Office of Grace and Justice. 5) of 1793, another map which included the entire bishopric of Chile, indicated the locations of the missions of Chillán and Chiloé, which he delivered to the Secretary of State Dn. Pedro Acuña. (Izaguirre, 1923).

Fig. 1 Cover of the two works by de Fray Pedro González de Agüeros:  Descripción Historial de la Provincia y Archipiélago de Chiloe and Clamores Apostólicos (National Library of Chile)