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Here for over 25 years and I still discover new things every day...

The Unknown story of Spain keeping the Russians at bay
Thursday, September 22, 2022 @ 8:12 PM

The history of Spain has thousands of pages and for centuries the leaders together with renowned personalities have achieved all kinds of milestones that have changed the course of humanity. Besides the arrival of Christopher Columbus to what is now America being, certainly, the best known, Spain has endless stories to be told...

Given the expansion throughout the globe initiated by Columbus, Spain came to conquer and govern extensive and numerous territories. The extension of the Spanish Crown thus became one of the largest empires ever recorded. Thanks to this, the history of the country has all kinds of curiosities, among which are unknown territories by most.

In the year that celebrates the 500th anniversary of the circumnavigation of the world by El Cano and Magallanes, many of the territories that were once Spanish come to light. In that sense, one of the great unknowns was Alaska and the occupation by Spain of this territory. Although the explorers who managed to circle the Earth for the first time did not go anywhere near Alaska, we will take a look at this page of Spain's history.

After arriving on the American continent and later occupying the territories that today would be California in the 18th century, Spain began to look further north. However, for the Spanish to come to dominate this frozen territory, some attempts would be needed under the premise of trying to stop the Russian advance in nearby territories.

The Viceroyalty of New Spain extended its domains over the years from Mexico to the southern regions of the current United States after the arrival of Columbus. Thanks to the papal bull Inter Caetera from Pope Alexander VI, both Spain and Portugal were authorised by the church to extend their domains throughout the New World giving them the godly right to colonise, convert and enslave.

Alaska was undoubtedly one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. The extreme climate of the area has made its exploration impossible for centuries. Despite this, it has always had remarkable importance thanks to the fact that it is the link between America and Asia.

it was in 1774 when a maritime expedition under the command of the Mallorcan Juan Pérez arrived at the Island of Queen Charlotte. This today is the southern limit of Alaska. Juan Antonio Bucarelli, Viceroy of New Spain that year, gave detailed instructions that would allow them to reach the island and discover Nootka Bay next to Vancouver Island. Fifteen years later, Esteban José Martínez, commanding the ships Princesa and San Carlos, would also take possession of the Ensenada de Nutka, whose territory became part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

At that time Spain managed to dominate the area although no Russian presence was detected. This led the crown to stop the expeditions, although Esteban Martínez and Gonzalo López de Haro sailed north after discovering the Pacific coast. At that moment the Spanish crown realized that not only Russia wanted to possess Nootka but that England also wanted it.

For this reason, Carlos III tried to secure the area and commissioned Martínez to occupy the territory, dislodging any attempt at domination. At that time, the fort of San Miguel was built, which after some scuffle with English ships would generate a conflict with Great Britain.

After years in the territory where all kinds of scientific and exploration work was carried out by Spain, tension grew with Great Britain. The indignation of the latter had grown over the years and was even on the verge of unleashing a large-scale war.

However, a war never took place and the dispute was resolved through negotiation between Spain and England. Thus, the Spanish undertook to dismantle, after a series of concessions, the fort of Nootka while freeing maritime traffic.

Spain's stay in the area despite its rapid withdrawal was key to world history. Russia wanted to annul Spain from both California and the entire Pacific coast. Commissioner Rezanov al Czar himself even stated that this area could be part of the Russian Empire. For this reason, it is considered that Spain managed to stop the Russian expansion that more than likely if it had come to conquer the region, would have been greatly extended.

Finally, it should be noted that there are still place names in Alaska such as Valdez or Cordova after more than two centuries. The latter, moreover, places greater emphasis on the importance that Spain had in the area and for the course of history.

Like 1


Colin said:
Sunday, September 25, 2022 @ 12:14 PM

Lovely article but the Portuguese were sailing down the African coast and beyond 70 years before Columbus went West to 'India'. They knew his plans were mad and refused to finance them. So he went to the Spanish monarchs.

So it was really them who initiated global expansion.

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