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lunes, septiembre 05, 2022


 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)


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