Orélie-Antoine de Tounens
|Orélie-Antoine de Tounens|
Orélie-Antoine I, King of Araucania and Patagonia
May 12, 1825|
|Died||September 17, 1878
|Other names||Aurelio Antonio de Tounens
|Known for||Creating the Kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia|
Orélie-Antoine de Tounens (May 12, 1825 – September 17, 1878) was a French lawyer, and adventurer, who assumed the title of King of Araucanía and Patagonia. It is disputed whether Tounens was a self-proclaimed king or was elected in a national assembly (called Futa Kollog) by more than 3,000 indigenous Mapuche delegates; and the highest Mapuche authorities of the time, including the most important Loncos (Mapuche chiefs) and Toki (Mapuche war chiefs).
Orélie-Antoine de Tounens was born May 12, 1825 in Chourgnac, Dordogne. He moved to Coquimbo in Chile in 1858 and spent two years in Valparaíso and Santiago, studying Spanish and forming social connections. Later he moved to Valdivia where he met two French merchants, Lachaise and Desfontaines. He explained his plans to them about founding a French colony in the Araucanía. 1860 he moved to Araucanía (historic region) among the Mapuche who, at the time, were de jure and de facto an independent nation.
Creation of new state
Based on his experience as a lawyer, de Tounens claimed that the area did not belong to recently independent Chile or Argentina, so he wanted to create an independent state south of the Biobío River. On November 17, 1860 he signed a declaration of Araucanían independence in the farm of French settler F. Desfontaine, who became his "foreign minister", and at an assembly of the chieftains of the various tribes of the territory known as "Araucanía" was voted a constitutional monarch by the tribal leaders. He created a national hymn, a flag, wrote a constitution, appointed ministers of agriculture, education, and defense (among other offices), and had coins minted for his kingdom.
Later, a tribal leader from Patagonia approached him with the desire to become part of the kingdom. Patagonia was therefore united to his kingdom as well. He sent copies of the constitution to Chilean newspapers and El Mercurio published a portion of it on December 29, 1860. De Tounens returned to Valparaíso to wait for the representatives of the Chilean government. They ignored him. He also attempted to involve the French government in his idea, but the French consul, after making some inquiries, came to the conclusion that de Tounens was insane.
De Tounens returned to Araucanía where many Mapuche tribes were again preparing to fight the incursions of the Chilean Army during the occupation of Araucanía. In 1862 de Tounens proceeded to visit other tribes as well. However, his servant, Juan Bautista Rosales, contacted Chilean authorities who had de Tounens arrested. They put him on trial and were going to send him into an asylum when the French consulate intervened and he was deported to France.
De Tounens remained defiant and published his memoirs in 1863. In 1869, he returned to Araucanía, via Buenos Aires. The Mapuche were surprised to see him because Chileans had told them that they had executed him. De Tounens proceeded to reorganize his realm and again attracted attention of the Chilean authorities. Colonel Cornelio Saavedra Rodríguez promised a reward for his head but the Mapuche decided to defend their unusual ally.
De Tounens ran out of money in 1871 and had to return to France, where he published a second set of his memoirs. He also founded an Araucanian newspaper La Corona de Acero ("The Steel Crown"). In 1872, he proclaimed that he was seeking a bride so that he might sire an heir; indeed, the next year, he wrote to tell his brother that he intended to marry a "mademoiselle de Percy", but there is no evidence that he ever did.
In 1874, de Tounens tried again to return to his kingdom, this time with some arms and ammunition he was able to gather with the feeble support of a few entrepreneurs in Europe. Because he was persona non grata in Chile, he traveled with a false passport. However, he was recognized as soon as he landed in Bahía Blanca (on the Argentine coast) in July, 1874, and was summarily deported to France.
De Tounens tried to return again in 1876. However, local settlers robbed him on his way to Patagonia and handed him over to Chilean authorities. He also fell ill and had to go through an operation to survive. His health did not allow him to continue his journey and he had to return to France.
- Braun-Menéndez, Armando: El Reino de Araucanía y Patagonia. Editorial Francisco de Aguirre. 5a edición. Buenos Airey y Santiago de Chile, 1967. Primera edición: Emecé, Colección Buen Aire, Buenos Aires, 1945.
- Magne, Leo: L´extraordinaire aventure d´Antoine de Tounens, roi d´Araucanie-Patagonie. Editions France-Amérique latine, Paris 1950.
- Philippe Prince d´Araucanie: Histoire du Royaume d´Araucanie (1860–1979), une Dynastie de Princes Français en Amérique Latine. S.E.A., Paris 1979.
- Silva, Victor Domingo: El Rey de Araucanía. Empresa Editorial Zig-Zag. Santiago de Chile, 1936.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Orelie-Antoine de Tounens.|
- Website of the Kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia
- The king's picture (in Spanish)
- North American Araucanian Royalist Society
|King of Araucania and Patagonia