La Frontera, Chile
La Frontera is the name given to a geographical region in Chile. La Frontera can denote either the area just around Bío Bío River or the whole area between the Bío Bío and Toltén River being in this later definition largely coterminous with the historial usage of Araucanía.
The name comes the times when it was the frontier of the Kingdom of Chile (a part of the Spanish Empire and later the Republic of Chile) with La Araucanía, the lands of the Mapuche nation following their great revolt in 1598.
Following the 1598 revolt and subsequent loss of the cities and forts south of the Bio Bio, the Spanish Empire established a system of forts and fortified towns between the Bio Bio and the Itata River and some within the Mapuche lands of Araucanía itself. This system continued through the 18th century and into the 19th century.
Forts and settlements of La Frontera
The first fortress rebuilt following the 1599 destruction of the forts in Catirai and its city Santa Cruz de Coya, the cities of Santa María la Blanca de Valdivia, San Andrés de Los Infantes and San Bartolomé de Chillán y Gamboa, was the reconstruction of the city of Chillán by the interim Governor Francisco de Quiñónez.
In 1602 Ribera rebuilt the small Fort Colcura and Fort Guanaraque and built a new fort, Santa Fe near the conflunce of the Bio Bio and Vergara Rivers. On the coast Ribera sent captain Francisco Hernández Ortiz to establish a fort Valdivia on the site of the ruined city but it had to be abandoned by the starving remnant of its garrison after a terrible two year siege.
In 1603 Ribera built Fort Chepe and Fort San Pedro to cover the crossing at the mouth of the Bio Bio River. He rebuilt San Felipe de Araucan and Santa Margarita de Austria on the coast between the aillarehues of Arauco and Tucapel and a fort at Tucapel and Paicavi on the Paicavi River. Also in the same year to the east along the Bio Bio River facing the aillarehues of Catirai and Purén, he rebuilt Santa Lucia de Yumbel and built the forts of Nuestra Señora de la Buena Esperanza, San Rosendo, Nuestra de Senora de Halle, Nacimiento de Nuestro Señor and San Francisco de Borja. The refugees from the abandoned city of Osorno under captain Francisco Hernández founded Fort Calbuco on a channel between the Reloncaví Sound and the Gulf of Ancud.
In 1621, Cristóbal de la Cerda y Sotomayor rebuilt the fort of Yumbel the same year it was destroyed. He also built fort San Cristóbal de La Paz and fortified the town around the fort San Bartolomé de Chillán.
In 1641, all the Spanish forts south of the Bio Bio were abandoned under the terms of the Peace of Quilín.
In 1657 Pedro Porter Casanate restored the city of San Bartolomé de Chillán following its destruction at the beginning of the Mapuche Insurrection of 1655. He also built forts San Rafael de Coelemu and San Fabián de Conueo northeast of Concepcion. Meanwhile captain Alonso de Cordova y Figueroa built Fort Tolpán at the confluence of the Renaico and Vergara Rivers.
In 1663 Paredo rebuilt fort San Cristóbal de La Paz.
In 1694 Marín de Poveda restored Fort de la Encarnación and a Mission in Repucura.
In 1695 Marín de Poveda built fort Santo Tomás de Colhué.
In 1724 Gabriel Cano de Aponte rebuilt forts Nacimiento, Santa Juana de Guadalcázar and Santo Tomás de Colhué. He transferred from Arauco Province the garrison and inhabitants of Plaza de San Diego de Tucapel to the bank of the Laja River near the Andes where a new fort of the same name was built.
In 1749 fort Nacimiento was moved to the present site of the modern town of Nacimiento.
In 1757 Amat y Juniet made Nacimiento a town.
In 1792 the forces of Governor Ambrosio O'Higgins under Tomás de Figueroa took possession of the site of the city of Osorno ruined in 1602, and constructed a fort there. O'Higgins reestablished it as a city in 1796.
- Diego de Rosales, “Historia General del Reino de Chile”, Flandes Indiano, 3 tomos. Valparaíso 1877–1878.
- Crescente Errázuriz, Seis años de la historia de Chile: 23 de diciembre de 1598- 9 de abril de 1605: memoria histórica, Impr. Nacional, Sanitiago de Chile, 1881.
- Atlas de Historia de Chile, Editorial Universitaria, ISBN 956-11-1776-2 pg. 54–55
- Francisco Solano Asta-Buruaga y Cienfuegos, Diccionario geográfico de la República de Chile, D. Appleton y Compania, Nueva York, 1899