Alejandro Malaspina November 5, — April 9, was a Tuscan explorer who spent most of his life as a Spanish naval officer. Under a Spanish royal commission , he undertook a voyage around the world from to , then, from to , a scientific expedition the Malaspina Expedition throughout the Pacific Ocean , exploring and mapping much of the west coast of the Americas from Cape Horn to the Gulf of Alaska , crossing to Guam and the Philippines , and stopping in New Zealand , Australia , and Tonga. Malaspina was christened "Alessandro. Malaspina was born in Mulazzo , a small principality ruled by his family, then part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany , a fiefdom of the Holy Roman Empire. From to , his family lived in Palermo with Alessandro's great-uncle, Giovanni Fogliani Sforza d'Aragona , the viceroy of Sicily.
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Although the expedition receives its name from Malaspina, he always insisted on giving Bustamante an equal share of command. Bustamante however acknowledged Malaspina as the "head of the expedition" since the beginning. Some of the leading scientists at the time collected an impressive amount of scientific data that even surpassed what was collected during Cook's expedition, but due to Malaspina's involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the government, he was jailed shortly upon return.
Most of the expedition's reports and collections were put away unpublished, and didn't see the light until the late 19th century. From September to May Malaspina made a commercial circumnavigation of the world on behalf of the Royal Philippines Company. During this voyage he was in command of the frigate Astrea. A short time later, on 14 October , Malaspina was informed of the government's acceptance of his plan. Petersburg of preparations for a Russian expedition the Mulovsky expedition to the North Pacific under the command of Grigori I.
Mulovsky that had as one of its objectives the claiming of territory on the North West Coast of America around Nootka Sound that was also claimed at the time by Spain. The Spanish government had the largest scientific budget of any European state at the time. They saw the New World as a vast laboratory for study and an unending source of samples. The Spanish king, Charles III was known for his fascination with science,  and had already procured funds to further develop science and technology in several areas.
He promptly approved the expedition, although he would never see its results, as he died exactly two months later. Additionally, the Spanish government had a vested interest on all issues concerning the Pacific Ocean because a large number of her colonies were in that area, including most of the American Pacific coast, the Philippines , and several islands, such as Guam. They were both tons burden and 36 metres long, with a normal load displacement of 4.
They were launched together on April 8,  and were baptized in honor of former James Cook 's ships Resolution and Discovery as Descubierta and Atrevida a liberal translation in Spanish. The two ships reunited at Callao , the port of Lima , in Peru , where they carried out investigations about the political situation of the Viceroyalty of Peru.
The expedition then continued north, mapping the coast, to Acapulco , Mexico. A team of officers was then sent to Mexico City to investigate the archives and political situation of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
Being in Mexico, the expedition received an order from the new king of Spain Charles IV , to search for a Northwest Passage recently rumored to have been discovered, which forced Malaspina to abandon his plans to sail to Hawaii , Kamchatka , and the Pacific Northwest.
Finding only an inlet, he carefully surveyed the Alaskan coast west to Prince William Sound. At Yakutat Bay, the expedition made contact with the Tlingit. Spanish scholars made a study of the tribe, recording information on social mores, language, economy, warfare methods, and burial practices. Knowing that Cook had previously surveyed the coast west of Prince William Sound and found no passage, Malaspina ceased his search at that point and sailed to the Spanish outpost at Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island.
Malaspina's expedition spent a month at Nootka Sound. While at Nootka, the expedition's scientists made a study of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nootka peoples. The relationship between the Spanish and the Nootkas was at its lowest point when Malaspina arrived.
Malaspina and his crew were able to greatly improve the relationship, which was one of their objectives and reasons for stopping in the first place. Due in part to Malaspina's ability to bequeath generous gifts from his well-supplied ships about to return to Mexico, the friendship between the Spanish and the Nootkas was strengthened. The gaining of the Nootka chief Maquinna's trust was particularly significant, as he was one of the most powerful chiefs of the region and had been very wary of the Spanish when Malaspina arrived.
His friendship strengthened the Spanish claim to Nootka Sound, which was in question after the Nootka Crisis and resolved in the subsequent Nootka Conventions. The Spanish government was eager for the Nootka to formally agree that the land upon which the Spanish outpost stood had been ceded freely and legally. Malaspina was able to acquire exactly what the government wanted. After weeks of negotiations the principal Nootka chief, Maquinna, agreed that the Spanish would always remain owners of the land they then occupied, and that they had acquired it with all due properness.
The outcome of the Nootka Convention depended in part on this pact. In addition to the expedition's work with the Nootkas, astronomical observations were made to fix the location of Nootka Sound and calibrate the expedition's chronometers. Nootka Sound was surveyed and mapped with an accuracy far greater than had previously been available. Unexplored channels were investigated. The maps were also linked to the baseline established by Captain Cook, allowing calibration between Spanish and British charts.
Botanical studies were carried out, including an attempt to make a type of beer out of conifer needles that was hoped to have anti-scorbutic properties for combating scurvy. After departing Nootka Sound the two ships sailed south, stopping at the Spanish settlement and mission at Monterey, California , before returning to Mexico. In , back in Mexico, Malaspina dispatched two schooners or "goletas" to conduct more detailed explorations of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia.
The ships were to have been commanded by two pilots of San Blas, Mexico, but Malaspina arranged for his own officers to replace them. In , Malaspina's expedition sailed from Mexico across the Pacific Ocean. They stopped briefly at Guam before arriving at the Philippines, where they spent several months, mostly at Manila.
After Bustamante's return the expedition left the Philippines and sailed to New Zealand. They explored Doubtful Sound at the southern end of New Zealand's South Island, mapping its entrance and lower reaches but failing because of adverse weather to carry out the gravity experiments which were the reason for going there. Then Malaspina sailed to Port Jackson Sydney. A Nation renowned throughout the world, which has left nothing untried, will also overcome with the happiest omens, by the most assiduous labour and by its own determined spirit the great obstacles opposing it in the foundation of what may one day become another Rome".
During its visit to Port Jackson, twelve drawings were done by members of the expedition, which are a valuable record of the settlement in its early years, especially as among them are the only depictions of the convict settlers from this period. These possessions will have a navy of their own, obtaining from the Southern region whatever is necessary to establish it, and when they have it ready formed they will be able to invade our nearby possessions It would not be surprising that in this case—the women also sharing the risks as well as the sensual pleasures of the men—the history of the invasions of the Huns and Alans in the most fertile provinces of Europe would be revived in our surprised colonies.
While recognizing the strategic threat it posed to Spain's Pacific possessions in time of war, Malaspina wrote: "It is not the concern of these paragraphs to demonstrate in detail the many schemes for these projected plunderings, so much as the easiest ways of preventing them".
He preferred the peaceable approach of drawing attention to the commercial opportunity the new colony offered for a trade in food and livestock from Chile and the development of a viable trade route linking that country with the Philippines. Having seen carts and even ploughs being drawn by convicts for want of draught animals in the colony, and having eaten meals with the colonists at which beef and mutton were regarded as rare luxuries, Malaspina saw the trade in Chilean livestock as the key to a profitable commerce.
He proposed that an agreement be signed with London for an Association of Traders, and for an agent of the colony to be resident in Chile. Conscious that the policy he was proposing was a bold and imaginative one in the face of Spain's traditional insistence on a national monopoly of trade and other relations within her empire, Malaspina declared that "this affair is exceedingly favourable to the commercial balance of our Colonies", and it would have the advantage of calming and tranquilizing "a lively, turbulent and even insolent neighbour Returning east across the Pacific Ocean the expedition spent a month at Vava'u , the northern archipelago of Tonga.
From there they sailed to Callao, Peru, then Talcahuanco, Chile. The fjords of southern Chile were carefully mapped before the expedition rounded Cape Horn. Then they surveyed the Falkland Islands and the coast of Patagonia before stopping at Montevideo again. He had spent 62 months at sea. During the five years of this expedition Malaspina fixed the measurements of America's western coast with a precision never before achieved. He measured the height of Mount Saint Elias in Alaska and explored gigantic glaciers, including Malaspina Glacier , later named after him.
He demonstrated the feasibility of a possible Panama Canal and outlined plans for its construction. Only one outbreak occurred, during a day trip across the open sea. Five sailors came down with symptoms, one seriously. After three days at Guam all five were healthy again. James Cook had made great progress against the disease, but other British captains, such as George Vancouver , found his accomplishment difficult to replicate.
It had been known since the midth century that citrus fruit was effective, but for decades it was impractical to store fruit or fruit juice for long periods on ships without losing the necessary ascorbic acid. Spain's large empire and many ports of call made it easier to acquire fresh fruit. The two sloops called the Discovery and the Subtile, the former commanded by Don Alexander Malespina [sic], and the latter by Don Joseph de Bastamente [sic], sailed in company from the port of Cadiz, on the 30th of July, , in order to co-operate with the other maritime powers in the extension of the human knowledge, and more particularly of navigation.
The commanders of these vessels made correct charts of the coasts of America and the adjacent islands, from the river La Plata to Cape Horn, and from that cape to the farthermost northern extremeties [sic] of that part of the world. Their intentions in this was merely to repeat the attempts of the same kind, formerly undertaken either by foreigners or their own countrymen, and thus acquire a more minute knowledge of the subject.
On their arrival at the north-west coast of America, in lat They continued the greater part of the year in visiting the Mariannes and Philippines, as also the Macas [Macao], on the coast of Guiana [China]. They afterwards passed between the isles Mindanoa and the isles called Mountay [Morintay], shaping course along the coasts of New-Guinea, and crossing the equator.
On this occasion they discovered a gulph of about maritime leagues in extent, which no former navigator had traversed. After a variety of other researches in the southern ocean, they arrived in June , at Callao. They then entered the river La Plata, after having surmounted all the dangers incident to those southern latitudes. Having been equipped and supplied anew with provisions at Montevedia [Montevideo], they joined a fleet of frigates and register ships, and sailed for Cadiz, where they arrived after a passage of nine days [weeks], with cargoes to the amount of eight millions of dollars in money and merchandize.
These voyages have not a little contributed to the extension of botany, mineralogy and navigation. In both hemispheres, and in a variety of different latitudes, many experiments were made relative to the weight of bodies [gravity], which will tend to very important discoveries, connected with the irregular form of our globe; these will also be highly useful, so far as respects a fixed and general measure [metric system].
While examining the inhabitants, our travellers collected all the monuments that could throw any light either on the migration of nations, or on their progress in civilization. Luckily for the interests of humanity, these discoveries have not caused a single tear to be shed. On the contrary, all the tribes with whom they had any connexion will bless the memory of these navigators who have furnished them with a variety of instruments, and made them acquainted with several arts, of which they were before entirely ignorant.
The vessels brought back nearly the whole of their crews; neither of them, in short, lost more than three or four men; which is wonderful, if we but consider the unhealthy climates of the Torrid Zone, to which they were so long exposed. Don Antonio de Valdes, the minister of the marine, who encouraged and supported the expedition, is busied at this moment in drawing up a detailed account of this voyage, so as to render the enterprize of general utility. It will soon be published; and the curious will be gratified with charts, maps, and engravings, now preparing to accompany it.
These officers are entitled to, and will soon experience, the royal munificence. Unfortunately, Malaspina's political judgment lead him to take part of a failed conspiracy to overthrow Spain's Prime Minister Godoy , and he was arrested on November 23 on charges of plotting against the state. There was some contemporary publication, but it took two hundred years for the bulk of the records of the expedition to be published.
A large portion of the documents meant to be used as source material for the publication of Malaspina's expedition remained scattered in archives to the present day. A significant number of documents are lost, and those that survive are often in a rough, semi-edited form. Alexander von Humboldt , an admirer of Malaspina, wrote, "this able navigator is more famous for his misfortunes than for his discoveries. Petersburg in The definitive version of the expedition was finally published in Spain by the Museo Naval and Ministerio de Defensa in nine volumes from to In recognition to Malaspina's work, several Spanish institutions launched a major scientific expedition to circumnavigate the globe, that bears his name.
The Malaspina Expedition is an interdisciplinary research project whose overall goals were to assess the impact of global change on the oceans and explore their biodiversity.
Although the expedition receives its name from Malaspina, he always insisted on giving Bustamante an equal share of command. Bustamante however acknowledged Malaspina as the "head of the expedition" since the beginning. Some of the leading scientists at the time collected an impressive amount of scientific data that even surpassed what was collected during Cook's expedition, but due to Malaspina's involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the government, he was jailed shortly upon return. Most of the expedition's reports and collections were put away unpublished, and didn't see the light until the late 19th century. From September to May Malaspina made a commercial circumnavigation of the world on behalf of the Royal Philippines Company. During this voyage he was in command of the frigate Astrea.
Expedición de Circunnavegación Cambio Global y Exploración de la Biodiversidad del Océano Global
National Library of Australia. Search the catalogue for collection items held by the National Library of Australia. Read more Museo Naval Spain. La Expedicion Malaspina,