Alejandro Malaspina: Portrait of a Visionary by John Kendrick

By John Kendrick

Malaspina arrived in Spain with a systematic historical past and an ardent curiosity within the philosophy of the Enlightenment. a talented navigator, the Pacific voyage on which he sailed in 1789 was once the final and most crucial of his occupation - a five-year medical and political exam of the Spanish colonies within the Americas and the Philippines. He appraised the British colony at Sydney Cove and Tonga, permitting him to check existence at a spot nearly untouched by means of eu touch with the placement within the colonies. Malaspina finally lower back to Spain, the place he used to be bought by way of King Charles IV. He was once commissioned to supply a piece overlaying all points of his reviews that might determine Spain's acceptance as a contemporary enlightened nation. Malaspina suggested the King that this would be completed provided that he pushed aside all of his ministers and changed them with a slate of Malaspina's settling on who could again his visionary principles. This doubtless naive inspiration ended in a unanimous vote by means of the council that his plan was once fake, seditious, and injurious to the sovereignty in their Majesties, and he was once sentenced to 10 years imprisonment within the citadel of San Antón. on the urging of Napoleon he used to be published after 8 years and exiled to Italy, the place he died in 1810, simply because the revolts within the Americas have been beginning, as he had envisioned. utilizing Malaspina's writings, together with the magazine of his nice voyage and his own letters, John Kendrick makes the lifetime of this outstanding guy on hand for the 1st time in English.

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Unlike Floridablanca, who had been born a commoner, Aranda was an Aragonese soldier of the old nobility. He had a long political history, having been brought into the ministry in 1766 after the dismissal of the Italian advisers. After losing a political battle in 1773, he was made ambassador to France and sent to Paris, where he became an admirer of Voltaire, an enthusiast for the Enlightenment, and a clandestine adviser to the future Charles IV, who was on poor terms with his father. Aranda recommended the appointment of a confidential minister, with himself in mind to the exclusion of Floridablanca, for whom he had little respect.

Alcaraz claimed that Malaspina read foreign books, was perfunctory in his religious duties, and had the statue of the ship's patron saint removed from the wardroom while the commander was absent. This may have been nonsense put out by a disgruntled member of the crew, but it is one of several shadowy indications that Malaspina was not an enthusiastic supporter of the Catholic authorities. The Inquisition had lost much of its power when the Jesuits were expelled in 1767, so nothing came of Alcaraz's accusation at the time.

The first concern of the early societies was the improvement of agriculture through theoretical and experimental science, but this was impossible in Spain without education and without reform of the landholding system which concentrated huge holdings of untaxed ownership or rights to land in the hands of the church and the grandees. The Amigos del Pais thus became involved in the most important domestic political issues in Spain. One of these was education, and the Amigos established the first secular schools, emphasizing science.

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