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|Pedro Fages Baleta|
|2nd Spanish Military Lt. Governor of California Nueva|
|Preceded by||Gaspar de Portolà|
|Succeeded by||Fernando Rivera y Moncada|
|2nd Spanish Governor of Las Californias|
|Preceded by||Felipe de Neve|
|Succeeded by||José Antonio Roméu|
Guissona, Lleida province, Catalonia, Spain
|Profession||soldier, explorer, and military Governor of Las Californias|
Pere Fages Beleta (Catalan: Pere Fages i Beleta) (1734–1794), nicknamed L'Ós (The Bear), was a soldier, explorer, and the second Spanish military Governor of Las Californias Province of New Spain from 1770 to 1774, and the Governor of Las Californias from 1782 to 1791.
Fages was born in Guissona, Lleida province, Catalonia, Spain. In 1767, Lieutenant Fages left Spain with the Free Company of Volunteers of Catalonia for New Spain, to serve under Domingo Elizondo in Sonora. In 1769, Fages was selected by Viceroy José de Gálvez to lead the shipborn portion of the Gaspar de Portolà led expedition to found San Diego, California. Fages sailed from the Baja California Peninsula town of La Paz on January 10, 1769, aboard the San Carlos, and arrived at San Diego Bay on April 29 with scurvy-ridden troops, after sailing over 200 mi (320 km) off course because of cartography errors. Fages accompanied the 1769 and 1770 land expeditions to locate Monterey Bay. During this time he was promoted to captain.
After Portolà left California in 1770, Pedro Fages served as the somewhat independent military governor of California Nueva (New California), which was later to become Alta California, headquartered in Monterey. During this time, Fages explored by land San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay, the Carquinez Strait, the San Joaquin River, and surrounding areas; and earned his nickname l'ós while hunting bears near San Luis Obispo. Fages quarreled with Father Junípero Serra, president of the Alta California missions, and was replaced in 1774 by Fernando Rivera y Moncada.
In 1777 Fages returned to Sonora to fight the Apaches, where he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In 1781 he successfully quelled the Quechan (Yuma) Indian revolt and temporarily reopened the Colorado River crossing of the Anza trail at Yuma, Arizona. The Quechan's successfully re-closed the trail for the next 50+ years after he and his troops departed.
Pedro Fages was appointed Governor of Las Californias in 1782, replacing Felipe de Neve. He returned to Monterey, which had replaced Loreto as the capital of the Californias in 1777. Fages was promoted to colonel in 1789, and resigned his governorship in 1791. Pedro Fages moved back to Mexico City, where he died in 1794.
Fages married Eulalia Callis June 3, 1780 in Mexico City. She was born October 4, 1758 in Barcelona, Spain and journeyed to Mexico City with her mother and brother to join her father Agustín Callis, the original captain of the Free Company of Volunteers of Catalonia. Eulalia loved fashion and believed in charity. At Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, she gave away her clothing after seeing the lack of clothing worn by the Indians.
Pedro Fages appears as a minor character in the 1955 film Seven Cities of Gold, which presents a fanciful and historically inaccurate account of the founding of Spanish California. Lieutenant Fages is played by Mexican actor Victor Junco. In the credits, Fages' name is misspelled as "Faces."
Governor Fages and his wife make a brief appearance in the Isabel Allende novel Zorro. Pere Fages is the protagonist of the historical novel La última conquista (2005) by Ramón Vilaró and is a secondary character in Los acasos (2010) by Javier Pascual.
- California State Military Museum article about Fages
- "Pedro Fages and Miguel Costansó: Two Early Letters From San Diego in 1769", Journal of San Diego History 21:2 (Spring 1975), translated by Iris W. Engstrand
- The History of California by Hubert Howe Bancroft (vol. 1, 1542-1800), pp. 486–487.
- "The Señoras Gobernadoras of Spanish Alta California A Comparative Study", Papers from the Presidio (1998) by Donald A. Nuttall.