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Alejandro Viaje Malaspina

1754-1810

Alessandro Malaspina (1754-1810) was born in Mulazzo, Italy. He spent much of his childhood in Mulazzo and then Palermo, Sicily, which had been under Spanish rule since the late fifteenth century. After spending time in Malta learning to sail, Malaspina entered the service of the Royal Navy of Spain in 1774. Malaspina began to sign his letters in the Spanish equivalent of his given name, Alexando, which today appears as Alejandro.

Malaspina was involved in various naval battles including the Siege of Melilla in 1774 and a siege at Algiers in 1775. He also participated in a number of voyages, with one aboard ASTREA to the Cape of Good Hope and the Philippines. By 1784, Malaspina had circumnavigated the globe and convinced the Spanish Navy to complete an expedition modelled on Captain James Cooks' voyages. Malaspina was promoted to the rank of Captain and took command of two ships, DESCUBIERTA and ATREVIDA. The 1789 voyage included stops in South America, North America, Manila, New Zealand, Australia, Tonga and back to Cadiz.

Malaspina returned to Spain triumphant after his five year voyage. The celebrations were short-lived, however, when in 1796, he was arrested for crimes against the state. He was sentenced to ten years in the Fortress of San Antón near the port of La Coruna. He served nearly seven years on San Antón before being released and forced into exile. He returned to Italy where he resided until his death in April 1810.

Malaspina’s narrative, ‘Vuelta al Mundo por las Corbetas Descubierta y Atrrevida’, had been lost after his arrest in 1776, until it was unearthed one hundred years later and finally published in 1885.