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Montevideo, December 14th 2017 - 02:26 UTC

Falklands 1768 Franciscan chapel blueprint discovered in the Archives of Indies in Seville

Thursday, November 16th 2017 - 18:20 UTC
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Layout of the chapel built in 1768 by the Spanish, but which destroyed by fire in 1811 Layout of the chapel built in 1768 by the Spanish, but which destroyed by fire in 1811
Details of the “provisional blueprint of the Chapel in the Malvinas islands” indicate A, chapel; D, sacristy; B, room for a chaplain; C room for another chaplain     Details of the “provisional blueprint of the Chapel in the Malvinas islands” indicate A, chapel; D, sacristy; B, room for a chaplain; C room for another chaplain
Senator Julio Cobos, and former vice-president with Cristina Fernandez has been in contact with the Argentine historians researching in Seville Senator Julio Cobos, and former vice-president with Cristina Fernandez has been in contact with the Argentine historians researching in Seville

The blueprint for a Franciscan chapel built in the Falkland Islands by the Spanish sometime after 1768 and which apparently caught fire and was destroyed in 1811, was found by an Argentine historian and researcher at the General Archive of the Indies in Seville, according to a piece published by Martin Dinatale in the Buenos Aires media.

 The announcement follows the publishing of three letters, an epistolary exchange from 1767 between then Spanish governor of Buenos Aires Francisco Bucarelli y Ursúa and the alleged first governor of the Malvinas Islands, Felipe Ruiz Puente which were revealed by Senator Julio Cobos, and in effect anticipated plans to build a chapel in East Falkland or Soledad Island.

Historian Roberto Colimodio came up with information of the documents he found in the archives of Seville which include a blueprint and instructions for the construction of the chapel, dated 1768, a continuation of the previous three letters, discovered by another researcher whose name has yet to be disclosed.

On 22nd March 1768 governor Felipe Ruiz Puente sends Buenos Aires an outline of “the layout of the provisional Franciscan chapel in the Malvinas Islands” with notes and dates in the margins, describing how the construction was evolving and anticipating the “final touches” for the inside of the temple.

According to Dinatale's piece the document can be seen in the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports PARES site and physically at the Archives of Indies in Seville.

Governor Ruiz Puente also points out that the blueprint with the outlay and notes is a bit outdated since it was written before the arrival of a couple of frigates with some of the requests and provisions, and thus “at the moment doors and windows have been concluded and work is ongoing to finish the inside of the chapel, Malvinas 22 March 1768”

Further details of the “provisional blueprint of the Chapel in the Malvinas islands” indicate A, chapel; D, sacristy; B, room for one of the chaplains; C room for another chaplain; E, kitchen and room of the servant; F, partitions made out of wood with their respective doors“

The notes also indicate the chapel is concluded with the exception of doors, windows and partitions because of the lack of wood, which apparently had not reached at the time the lines were written, and points out that the height of the nave, from the ground floor to the sail cloth ceiling is nine feet and six inches.

Historian Colimodio underlines that the documents indicate that ”the 1767 epistolary exchange between the governors of Malvinas and Buenos Aires was not made up and in effect a chapel was built”.

Furthermore Colimodio who is a member of the Argentine History Academy and of the Sanmartiniano Institute, affirms there are other documents at the General Archives of the Indies which reveal the chapel caught fire in 1811 and in September 1816, a pilot from the Spanish navy, Gabriel Francisco de la Quintana effectively saw it had caught fire.

Senator Cobos, no stranger to the Falklands which he visited in 2014, and who was Cristina Fernandez vice-president (2007/11) (a political marriage which ended terribly), said he contacted the Argentine foreign ministry suggesting they make a formal request to the Archives of the Indies for certified copies of the documents which will enrich Argentine history and the Malvinas Islands sovereignty claim.

Apparently the Foreign ministry already has certified copies of the documents, and former minister Susana Malcorra allegedly was quoted saying that these new documents “could help bend in favor of Argentina, the vote of several country at the C24 UN decolonization committee”.

However from the Falklands the Penguin News consulted a British researcher who argued that the “in fact the letters are nothing of the sort. They are about the establishment of the Spanish penal settlement at Port Louis” He added that the Spanish takeover of the French settlement at Port Louis episode was very well known to historians and that “there are lots of documents in Spanish, Argentine and British archives from that period when Britain was also established at Port Egmont on Saunders Island”

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  • Pete Bog

    @ Chicureo.

    Lol.

    Or they might find a barrel of salted pork enscribed 'U P woz ere in 1815'.(In English as it seems most of the UP sailors were implanted from Great Britain).

    What's next? Plans of the penal prison? Or the chief Spanish commander's house? Or a garden shed? Stables?

    No mention of the Spanish naval/scientific mission to Stanley in 1863.

    Just wait till the plans for Stanley Cathedral are discovered as a counter claim, or plans for the Catholic church in Stanley!

    And the church mission on Keppel Island, (surely a missionary station trumps a mere prison church)?

    So if the claims are about buildings, what about the blockhouse and other buildings at Port Egmont over the same period?

    And afterwards, the farm buildings, all over the islands, plus Stanley's buildings over the years?

    Wasn't there a pre fab church shipped out to Goose Green?

    Or the cultural edifice of Ajax Bay with its post 1982 squaddie art such as the Wokka prayer, the 'Who dares eats ' artwork and the 'compo song'?

    Think the Brit buildings trump this chapel blueprint.

    I'd be more impressed if the Argentines could produce documentary evidence for a United Provinces settlement from 1811 handed formally over from Spain or even evidence that the United Provinces were patrolling Falkland waters from 1810, or maintaining fishing fleets like USA, France and Britain was, in the area.

    Dream on, Argentina.

    Nov 16th, 2017 - 10:48 pm +6
  • Roger Lorton

    So while Puente was thinking about a new Chapel, the British on West Falkland had erected a fort, built a town, raised an observation post and even built a fishing lodge - oh, and charted the whole archipelago, circumnavigating it in the process.

    And somehow Puente's chapel is a greater sign of sovereignty.

    Argentine's are weird.

    Nov 16th, 2017 - 11:23 pm +6
  • Pete Bog

    @ RL
    “And somehow Puente's chapel is a greater sign of sovereignty.

    Argentine's are weird”

    They are, indeed, a mystery.

    Like announcing a governor in 1829 (with permission from Britain for his settlement), by a government denounced as illegal a year later, with only the slightest possibility that 5 or so years thence counts as an Argentine settlement, (mostly populated with implanted Europeans). This for Argentina, is more significant than a British settled presence from 1765-1774 and then 1833-2017 (so far).

    Not withstanding the 1828-1833 period when even so called acts of Argentine sovereignty as announcing Vernet as governor and sending a militia generated diplomatic protests from Britain.

    If plans for a Spanish church count as evidence of Argentine sovereignty, then the unchallenged survey of West Falkland in the late 1700s ( even when there was no longer a British garrison at Egmont), is equally another counter argument that the British were not inactive in the area considered theirs.

    Regarding Argentine myths of Falkland implantation , even the Argentines have failed to recognise that most of Vernet's settlers were implanted, European born people, rather than being a majority of South American born settlers, judging from the amount of Germans that left in 1931.

    Nov 17th, 2017 - 12:09 pm +5
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