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