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1: Pre-History Conquest and Colony

Acknowledgement || 2: Independence >>

Chapter I

Pre-History, Conquest and Colony

The Indians

The pre-historic inhabitants of Chile and the numerous Indian tribes, did not have great interest in the ocean. The low temperature of the water and the abundant vegetation and fauna of the central valley did not force the Indian to look at the sea for survival. Only in the North, pushed by an extremely arid and desolate landscape and in the South, facing a never ending labyrinth of channels, did the Indians make an attempt to go beyond the beaches and inlets, as far into the sea as his scarce resources allowed him.

In what is today the provinces of Tarapacá, Antofagasta and Atacama, lived the changos. These Indians where fishermen who speared fish and shellfish while standing in the coastal rocks or while floating in reed rafts that must be considered aids to swimming rather than boats.In Peru and Bolivia these reed rafts reached large proportions but the Changos did not go that far. As the changos extended their fishing grounds South they acquired a wooden raft.This raft was a crude float made up with pieces of wood held together by leather tongs or reeds without any specific design.

At a later date, the changos created a new raft made of seal skins. Usually, two seal skins were held together so that a platform could be built on top with tree branches where the rower sat.These rafts, somehow improved with European elements, were used up to the Twentieth Century and carried nitrate sacks from the docks into waiting sailing ships that sailed to Europe with Chile's white gold.

Much has been theorized about the Polynesian influence in the West Coast of South America. The earth oven, the sweet potato, the handles of the oars and other artifacts, obviously, have a common ancestry but very few traces can be found and the marvelous navigation techniques of the Eastern Pacific were never acquired by the Indians.The Polynesian influence does form part of Chile's naval tradition but it is limited to Eastern Island the Western limit of their penetration.

At the arrival of the Spaniards, five tribes inhabited the Central Valley of Chile: Huilliche, Pehuenche, Picunche, Mapuche and Puelche. None attempted into the sea until after the arrival of the Spaniards.But the southernmost of these tribes, the Huilliches, either formed a separate tribe, or mixed with the people to the South of them, to become a group known as the Cuncos. These Cuncos were the most civilized people in Chile.They physically separated themselves from the Huilliche by crossing Chacao channel and established themselves in the Chiloe archipelago, an area where man cannot lived unless he ventures into the sea.The Cuncos built boats, docks, and captured fish by making use of the difference in the tides. They built fences at the edge of low tide and after the cycle was completed, they picked up the trapped fish. Their boats were known as dalcas.

The dalca was probably the best native boat found in pre-Hispanic America. It was solidly built by putting together three boards of alerce, a wood similar to the California redwood. The joints were held together by leather tongs or vegetable fibers and caulking was accomplished with either animal or vegetable products.To reinforce its sides, the Indians used wooden ribs, held in place with wooden dowels that swelled under water. Originally, the dalca could only sail downwind and had no rudder. The arrival of the Europeans brought modifications and improvements never dreamed by the Cuncos. Metals were used to saw the lumber and to hold the boards together. A boom was added to the primitive mast, a rudder appeared, and if we are to believe the earlier Spanish chroniclers, there were dalcas that could hold twenty men.

Beyond the Cuncos lived the Chonos.They were very primitive people who fed on shellfish and copied to the best of their ability the tools and habits of the Cuncos. Sailing their own dalcas they reached rocky islands where herds of seals and sealions rested and supplied themselves with furs and meat.These people were eventually forced to abandon the mainland by the barbaric tribes of Patagonia who held them into practically constant attack. Rather than settle in the numerous islands they took to the waters of the channels. They built crude ovens of dirt and stone at the bow of their dalcas and carried fire for cooking and heating. This became an identifying characteristics: if a canoe was trailing smoke it was an Alakaluf, a new name they acquired for themselves. Alakalufs continued to live at sea and feed themselves shellfish and hunt sealions until steam power opened the canal routes. They found more profitable to beg from passing ships, to ransack shipwrecks and occasionally, as testified by Joshua Slocum, to attack small vessels. The descendants of the few surviving families live today under the protection of the Chilean Navy in Puerto Eden but some still live at sea begging food and clothing from passing ships.

Around the Straits of Magellan and beyond that pass lived the Yahgans, a strong and maritime race that used canoes made of tree trunks hollowed by fire.They lived ashore in primitive branch huts covered with guanaco or sea lion skins, which thy also used for clothing.These people were gatherers of shellfish rather than hunters. They fed on anything that came their way, a beached whale was a feast for them, but the system required to be constantly on the move and they sailed the channels around and beyond Tierra del Fuego and ventured around the Horn. Fitz Roy and Darwin met them there. They rarely went far from land or sailed at night. Today, this race is almost extinct. European diseases brought by the missionaries decimated the once numerous tribes. A few Yaghans, mostly of mixed blood, survive near the Naval Base at Puerto Williams. Occasionally, Chilean Navy patrols have sighted isolated individuals and even families living in the wild.

With the exception of the Channel Indians , the Chilean native tribes contributed little or nothing to the naval traditions of the country. All pre-Hispanic navigation was limited to the channels and even there, it was restricted to the area within sight of land. To the Indians of Chile, the ocean was as infinite as the sky; in fact, some tribes believed that the dead went there. Although there is some traditional evidence that speaks of men who came from over the horizon, a clear indication that Polynesians had reached the coast of South America, these encounters must be considered mere accidents. They contributed practically nothing to the culture of the Indian tribes.

As it will be seen, modern Chile retained little of the maritime culture of the South. The maritime history of Chile would eventually evolve from people of the central valley. Their human and physical resources were basically Mediterranean in origin.

Exploration and Conquest

In October of 1520 the first European eyes sighted what is today the Southern end of Chile. Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese mariner in the service of the King of Spain. In August of 1519 he left Seville with a small squadron of five ships to search for the passage to the 'Southern Ocean' which Balboa had discovered. The trip was full of difficulties and the Admiral had to endure not only terrible storms but sickness and mutinies. But Magellan did manage to keep control of two vessels and in the end suppressed the final mutiny aboard his own flagship before entering the Straits he had discovered. On October 21, 1520 he entered the passage and a month later he faced the open ocean which he found so peaceful that he named it the Pacific. His mission was to reach the Spice Islands and he did not stop to explore the land or even to re-supply his ship. He sailed North up to the latitude of Taitao Peninsula and then boldly set out to cross the largest ocean on Earth. It was " the most daring adventure in the History of Humankind."

Central Chile was discovered by Diego de Almagro, an illiterate but intelligent hidalgo who had been Pizarro's partner in the conquest of Peru. Almagro went to Chile by land and had contracted for three ships to meet him on the Southern coast with supplies. The Spaniards did not know the land, but had relied on what the Incas told them. Nevertheless, Almagro ordered the ships to proceed South and to look for him along the Coast. One cannot but admire the courage and optimism of these men. Sailing into the unknown their one hope of survival was to meet in a place yet to be discovered. It is no wonder, then, that of the three ships sent only one ever caught up with Almagro. This was the Santiaguillo, smallest of the flotilla, under the command of Alonso Quintero. The Indians passed the word that a strange winged monster was loitering along the coast. Almagro was able to establish contact probably at what is known today as Quintero Bay and to unload the cargo by employing the sealskin rafts of the Changos. Quintero sailed south and may have entered Valparaíso, but he soon gave up and returned north to Peru. He was the first mariner to sail the central coast of Chile.

Few navigators attempted to follow Magellan's route. The trip south along the Patagonian Coast was entremely difficult. The weather, ocean currents, tides and numerous reefs would dispose of on third of the ships which attempted to transit the Straits. One expedition led by Jufre de Loayza entered the Straits in April of 1526 but his ships were dispersed by wind. The captain of one of his ships, the San Lesmes, claims that he sailed beyond 55E South and stated that "the land ends there." Although his discovery was well documented, Spanish cartographers refused to believe that the "land of fire" (Tierra del Fuego), was so short and their maps continued to show large, rich and even warm masses of land South of the Straits.

Many expeditions ended in disaster when they faced the mountainous seas. The expedition of Alonso de Camargo, Bishop of Plasencia, lost two ships in the shores of the Straits. This accident, was coupled to a tale told on the other side of the Andes, and gave rise to the legend of the City of the Caesars. It was believed that the crews had reached an isolated city in the mountains, founded and populated by Spaniards, who lived amidst enormous riches and culture. Later, several ships and land expeditions were sent to search for the fabled town. One of these commanded by Diego Rojas, attempted to land at the mouth of the Maule River in 1542, but was wrecked at the bar.

A second land expedition to Central Chile was commanded by Pedro de Valdivia, who was sucessful in founding a town and in pacifying the Valley of the Mapocho river where Santiago lies. While in Santiago, Valdivia was informed that a vessel had arrived in the coast. Valdivia sent his most trusted lieutenant to contact the ship but when he arrived in Valparaíso the ship had departed. This ship was the only survivor of Plasencia's squadron. After many hardships and unusually bad weather it had reached its destination. The surviving crew was in such poor condition that it was impossible to attempt even a token act of taking possession of the land, so it sailed on to Lima without knowing that Valdivia was already established in the country.

It was essential for Valdivia to establish contact with Peru. He had received news through the Indians of Pizarro's death and was aware that without supplies and more settlers his colony could not survive. The Indians were belligerent and the winter of 1543 was approaching. Valdivia aware that the best means of communicating with Peru was by sea, made plans to build a ship. The shipyard was established at the mouth of the Aconcagua river, near the gold fields of Marga-Marga. Valdivia had to divide his meager forces among Santiago, the gold fields, and the shipyard. This dispersal gave the Indians the opportunity they had been waiting for. They destroyed the gold mining equipment, headed for the unfinished ship, killed the Spaniards there, and burned the hull. The Indian attack on Santiago destroyed the settlement. Valdivia's project was in ruins: his men suffered from hunger; they had no gold, no ship, clothing or shelter. In a letter to the King Valdivia aptly writes: "It is honorable and expected for the soldier to suffer the hardship of war, but in order to sustain these, plus hunger, it is necessary to be more than just a man."

It was not until two years later in September of 1543 that a ship came to anchor in Valparaíso. She turned out to be the Santiaguillo loaded with supplies, which were sold at 300% profit, and with 60 men on board. Later on, a second ship arrived, the San Pedro equally loaded with merchandise that was sold at exorbitant prices. Valdivia now had at his disposal two vessels and an excellent pilot. This man, Juan Pastene, an honest and reliable man, was ordered to sail South and explore the coast all the way to the Straits. Valdivia appointed him Lieutenant Governor for the sea. He sailed south and landing wherever he could he took possession for the Crown according to the established customs. He discovered the deep and well protected estuary of the Aynileo river, which he renamed Valdivia. Pastene, however, did not go beyond his new discovery and returned north.

In 1553 Valdivia gave the same order to Francisco de Ulloa. He was very successful, sailing without mishap down the rugged coast, through the channels and finally into the Strait itself. He penetrated these dangerous waters or nearly 30 leagues before turning back and on his return leg he explored Ancud Bay in Chiloe Island. The great Indian rebellion of 1553, which would result in the death of Valdivia, prevented the Spaniards from following up these discoveries.

A better supplied expedition was sent by Governor Hurtado de Mendoza in 1558. He had at his disposal two excellent mariners, Juan Ladrillero and Francisco Cortes Ojeda. Both men sailed in convoy but the weather separated the ships. Cortes Ojeda in the San Sebastian navigated the labyrinth of channels, and entered the Straits only to have his ship blown back and destroyed by the storm. His crew managed to land on an island; with what they could salvage from the wreckage and wood from the native forest, they managed to build a brig and sail back to Valdivia after ten months of suffering. The San Luis under the command of Ladrillero went further. In March of 1558 he entered the Straits and proceeded all the way to the Atlantic, the first ship ever to sail from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Ladrillero took possesion of the land wherever he went and returned through the channel he had discovered. The route taken is known today as Ladrillero Channel. His diary described in great detail the hazards of the trip, and the land and sea routes he had explored.

While these investigations were under way, supplies for the colony in the central valley of Chile were sent by ship from Peru. Because of the Humbolt current flowing north, coastwise sailing southward from Peru is extremely difficult. The winds and sea batter the bows of sailing ships and make constant tacking necessary. The trip normally took three months; the return, one month. An extraordinary seaman named Juan Fernández sailed from Callao to Chile in 1584; but instead of tacking south as was customary, he sailed with the wind out to sea and then, following the "great circle route" reached Valparaíso from the west, thus avoiding the current, taking advantage of the prevailing winds, and discovering the archipelago that still bears his name. Years before this same man sailed from Concepcíon Bay to the west and may have reached New Zealand and Australia as well, but unfortunatelly little attention was paid to his discoveries. Instead all public attention was turned to the new route which would facilitate the traffic between the Viceroyalty of Peru and Chile.(1)


In 1578, the first raiders and pirates appeared on the coast of Chile. Under the delusion that he had been commissioned by God to sell negroes, kill Spaniards, and sack their gold laden ships, Francis Drake entered the Straits with five ships. But the same sea barriers that the Spaniards had faced dispersed his fleet and only one ship, the Golden Hind, under the command of Drake himself, managed to enter the Pacific. But he was blown to the South and then East, thereby discovering the pass that bears his name. He again turned North and in November he anchored off Mocha Island where he fought a bloody combat with the local Indians. A month later he attacked Valparaíso, burned the warehouse, and captured a ship with a load of gold dust. The Spanish authorities spread the alarm and when Drake, now known as "el drago", attempted to land at La Serena he was repulsed with losses. Drake had achieved great success at Valparaíso, but convinced that there were no more spoils to be had in Chile, he sailed on. He now bore on his left cheek a deep scar made by an Araucanian arrow shot during his unsuccessful attempt to capture Mocha Island.

In 1586 Thomas Cavendish conducted the second expedition against Spanish colonies along the west coast of America. He anchored at Santa María island and managed to achieve better relations with the natives. They supplied him with enough foodstuff that he was able to continue his journey. He found Valparaíso shrouded by fog. Unable to enter the port, he landed in Quintero, a few miles to the north. Spanish soldiers appeared and in the ensuing fight the Englishmen had to retreat to their ships leaving behind several prisoners and casualties.

Cavendish was followed by Hawkins who in April of 1594 fell on Valparaíso and sacked the town. He behaved in a honorable and gentlemanly manner, returning prisoners and respecting private property. This gallant behavior later was to save his life: imprisoned by Viceroy Mendoza in Peru, he was treated with courtesy, sent to Spain, and eventually released.

But it was not only the English who took advantage of the poorly defended Pacific ports. The Dutch too found they could penetrate the Straits. The Cordes brothers left very different impressions. One expedition, led by Simon Cordes surrendered in Valparaíso and asked for help, but his brother Balthazar sacked the town of Castro in Chiloe and committed despicable crimes along the coast. In 1600 another Dutchman, Oliver van Noort, entered Valparaíso where five ships were at anchor. He captured two and burned the other three, and in most cruel behavior, he beheaded the thirty Spanish sailors he had captured. He spared only the pilot, Juan de Sandoval, to guide him north, but once he had served his purpose, van Noort had him thrown to the sharks off the coast of Peru.

The tremendous blow to the limited commerce of the colony can well be imagined. All traffic came to a standstill and the lost ships and seamen could not be replaced easily. The Viceroy of Peru could do nothing to defend either Chilean ports or his own. After Drake's attack, Viceroy Toledo thought of sealing the Straits and sent an expedition under the command of Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa with instructions to colonize the shores of the pass so that entrance into the Pacific could be checked. Drake had not divulged the discovery of a passage below Tierra del Fuego and, of course, nobody had believed the report of Jufre de Loayza in his San Lesmes to the same effect. European charts clearly showed land all the way to the South Pole.

Sarmiento de Gamboa's expedition consisted of two ships and, as often happened, they separated. Sarmiento in the Nuestra Señora de la Buena Esperanza easily entered the Straits, explored the coast, and sailed on to Spain. But the San Francisco under the command of pilot Lamero, missed the entrance and sailed on to latitude 56E. Turning east, he soon discovered that the Southern Continent did not exist. So surprised was the captain that he ordered an immediate return to Peru to inform the Viceroy of his findings.

In the meantime, Sarmiento de Gamboa had convinced King Phillip II of the need to fortify the shores of the Straits. He was authorized to take 4000 men, of whom 600 were to go on to the Araucanian War. His fleet of 15 vessels sailed from Rio de Janeiro on November 2, 1582. A storm scattered the ships but Sarmiento managed to get through with part of his fleet, landed in the shores of the Straits and founded two cities: Nombre de Dios and Rey Don Felipe. These two towns were isolated, even from each other, except by sea, located on barren shores devoid of natural resources, and subject to extreme weather conditions. The first winter was a terrible ordeal. While attempting to sail from one port to the other, Sarmiento was blown out to sea. Without adequate supplies he sailed to Rio, overhauled his ship, and gathered supplies for his starving towns. No sooner had he sailed than a tropical storm carried his ship north and drove it aground near the Brazilian port of Bahia. But Sarmiento was no ordinary man; he managed to get back to Rio, fit another ship and sail again. This time his crew mutineed and turned north. The ship was then captured by English pirates and Sarmiento was taken to England as a prisoner. There, Sir Walter Raleigh took him under his protection and became so interested in his adventures that he introduced him to the Queen. The Spanish captain and the Queen of England talked in Latin for over two hours. As a result he was provided with money and a passport to return to Spain. In France, he was captured by Huguenots and was unable to raise his ransom. Such misfortunes proved to be too much even for a man like Sarmiento. This brave and courageous man was never able to arrange relief for his towns in the Straits. Later in 1587, when the English pirate Cavendish entered the Straits, he was met by fifteen survivors of the first settlement. All but one refused to board the Protestant vessel. Their state was pathetic; their skin hung from their bones and most of them could not walk. In the next town no one was found alive. Some bodies were lying on beds and from the gallows hung a skeleton. Cavendish renamed the place Port Famine which remains until this day. Thus ended the first attempt to colonize the Straits. It will not be attempted again until people from the central valley built a permanent settlement in the nineteenth century.

Since Spain had failed to fortify the Straits and could not defend her ports, the central coast of Chile became an easy prey for the new piratical expeditions. In spite of treaties with England and Holland pirate after pirate landed and sacked the islands and towns along the coast. In 1615 it was George Spillberg who sailed along the coast reconnoitering Concepcíon, Valparaíso, Papudo, and eventually attacking ports in Mexico and Peru. In 1623 a fleet of eleven ships appeared off the coast under Admiral Jacobo L'Hermite. One of his ships, under the command of Jacob Schouten reached the southernmost tip of South America and named it Cape Horn, although the rocky island had probably been sighted by Jufre de Loayza, Drake, and Lamero. A smaller expedition under Henry Brower attacked Chiloe Island and when L'Hermite died, the new commander, Herckmans, landed in Valdivia and in agreement with the Indians fortified the port. But the attitude of the natives suddenly changed from peaceful and cooperative to hostility and the Dutch suddenly left, leaving behind their walls. This sudden departure could not easily be explained and gave rise to many rumors. They were later given literary form by the Spanish writer Quevedo. The explanation of the sudden departure can be found in his work La hora de todos.

Caribbean pirates also made their appearance in the Chilean coast. They were known as "filibusteros", a corruption of the English word "freebooters," used to designate English pirates who attacked Spanish ships in the Caribbean. The first, Bartholomew Sharp, came by way of Panama and appeared suddenly in La Serena in 1680. Sharp was raiding the Pacific coast of South America with two Spanish ships he had captured after crossing the isthmus. He sacked and burned La Serena and the small port of Coquimbo as well before going on to Juan Fernández Island to rest his crews and resupply his stores. The pirates quarreled among themselves and Sharp was deposed and arrested. John Watling, an old and experienced bucaneer, took his place at the head of the force. With refreshed crews the squadron cruised off the northern coats of South and Central America, where Sharp eventually regained his command.

Alarmed by Sharp's attack, the Royal Spanish government reinforced the garrisons at Valdivia and Talcahuano. At Valparaíso ten bronze cannons were placed in Fort San José. Unable to fortify La Serena, the Governor of Chile, José de Garro, organized a local militia and accepted a few cannons donated by the local inhabitants. The Islands Mocha and Santa María were evacuated in order to eliminate possible supply spots for the enemy. Nothing was done to occupy Juan Fernández islands whose abundant marine life, birds, and goat population continued to serve visiting pirates.

In March of 1681 a three ship privateer squadron anchored in Juan Fernández. The ships were commanded by captains William Ambrose Cowley, William Dampier, and John Eaton. Suddenly surprised by three Spanish ships sent after them, the bucaneers sailed leaving a man ashore. There is some question as to whether the man was left behind accidentally or on purpose. Some versions picture him with a trunk full of supplies. Others describe him as armed only with a fowling piece. There is no question that he was the sailing master of the Cinque Ports.

After replenishing their water they moved on to attack Spanish shipping off the coast of Mexico and Peru. After many encounters and an almost fatal battle with a Spanish squadron, the ships became separated. Four years later, Eaton's ship now commanded by a Captain Swam attempted to attack Valdivia but after severe loses he was forced to re-embark. Swam rejoined Edward Davis who had been with Dampier, and together they campaigned for eighteen months.

At almost the same time, William Knight at the head of forty Englishmen and twenty Frenchmen attempted an attack on La Serena but was met by a strong cavalry squadron that forced his landing party to retreat. In 1686, Davis attacked La Serena and when counter-attacked he took refuge in a church where he held up for 30 hours before retreating towards his ship and leaving behind eleven dead. Davis retreated towards Juan Fernández where he could rest and refresh his men.

The strong measures taken by Garro were still in effect in 1670 when an English ship under the command of John Strong arrived off the coast of Chile and attempted to get supplies. He was treated as an enemy and after attempting to land at Concepcíon and La Serena retreated by way of the Straits of Magellan.

In 1700 great alarm was caused by a message from Madrid announcing that a five ship squadron was bound or the coast of Chile. The local governor made exaggerated preparations at Santiago, a city well inland and protected by rugged mountains. The danger had been exaggerated even in the Spanish Court: only two vessels had turned the Horn and never approached the coast of continental Chile. When the bucaneers, among whom were several veterans from Dampier's cruise, arrived in Juan Fernández they met and rescued Alexander Selkirk, who had been marooned by the sudden appearance of Spanish ships and who had survived in the island for several years. The description of his ordeal was the basis of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.(2)

In 1720 the English Shelvock attempted to attack Concepcíon but without success, eventually losing his ship at Juan Fernández. Finally, local authorities fortified all the main ports: Ancud, Valdivia, Concepcíon, Valparaíso and La Serena. The inhabitants of smaller towns where no royal troops were quartered, were organized into militia units. These two measures eventually put an end to piratical raids.

By mid-seventeenth century, exploratory and conquering expeditions had given way to scientific voyages of discovery. In 1753 a Spanish expedition was sent to colonial Chile. Its purpose was to explore the coast, collect speciments of animal and plant life and write journals. The leaders were learned men, Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa. Their well written description of the southern coast became famous on the subject.

In 1741 an English fleet under the command of Gorge Anson appeared in front of Ancud in Chiloe Island. One of his ships, the frigate Wager, was shipwrecked among the desolate Islands of Guayaneco. Four survivors reached Valparaíso: one of whom, Midshipman Byron was the grandfather of the poet Lord Byron. Young Byron wrote a most interesting description of his adventures. Lord Anson rested his crews in Juan Fernández and not fully recovered, sailed on without touching the Chilean central coast.

Exploration During the Colony

Two expeditions were sent by the King of Spain for the sole purpose of looking for sites for new settlements. The first, led by Antonio de Cordoba in 1785, reported that the Southern lands could not be settled because they could hardly support animal life. A better organized expedition was led by the Italian Malaspina in the service of Spain. He was an experienced sailor and an able cartographers who drew charts whose accuracy was later confirmed. Of special interest are his studies of the coast of Chiloe Island.

Other scientific explorers, among them the French La Perouse, Bouganville and Feuille, the English Cook, and the Spaniards Mancilla, Machado, Moraleda and Ugarte, explored, charted and gave names to many of the islands, passes and other geographical features south of Chiloe. Finally, an almost complete picture of the Western Patagonian geography was available after the combined efforts of these explorers.

In the eighteen century the merchant marine showed great improvements. The royal ordinances of Charles III opened ports to ships of other nations so that competition for intercoastal trade, an increase of agricultural production in the central valley of Chile, and the appearance of Basque shipowners caused a significant increase in the number of ships sailing between Chile and Peru. The small fleet of Concepcíon, crewed by Chilotans who were descendants of the Cuncos and skippered by Basque pilots, covered the whole Pacific. Chileans also made up the majority of the crews trading of the Callao fleet and so Chilean sailors reached Upper and Lower California, the Philippines, Guam, and all the ports in the West Coast of South America, even though the absurd Spanish legislation forbade direct trade among the colonies. At the end of the colonial period, the leading shipowner of Concepcíon, Don José de Urrutia y Mendiburu sought permission to send his ships to Manila and California. The same request was made by Marquez a Valparaíso shipowner. The Viceroy refused explaining that it would be unfair competition to the merchants of Callao who held a monopoly of the trade.

In studying the origins of Chilean naval development the role of the Spanish Navy must not be forgotten. Chilean-born boys attended the naval schools at Cadiz, Ferrol and Cartagena, in spite of the restrictions created by the lack of nobility titles. Many Chilean and Argentine officers served in the Spanish Navy, some as naval officers such as Manuel Blanco Encalada and Francisco de la Lastra. General José de San Martín commanded, as a young captain, the marine garrison aboard the ship of the line Santa Dorotea.

Chilean historians tend to ignore the importance of the sea in the development of Chilean nationality, even during the colonial period. Chiloe, Valdivia, Talcahuano--the port of Concepcíon--, Valparaíso, and Coquimbo supplied crews for the ships of the Viceroyalty. These very men would man the ships which gained Chile her Independence from Spain.

Acknowledgement || 2: Independence >>