Biography of Fernando de Alencastre Noroña y Silva (1640-1717)

Spanish colonial administrator born in 1640 (unknown place) and died in the city of Mexico June 3, 1717. He/She was Duke of Linares, Marqués de Valdefuentes, Commander of the order of Santiago and thirty fifth viceroy of new Spain (1711-16).

Fernando de Alencastre was the son of the second Duke of Abrantes and Grande of Spain. His surname is the Portuguese variant of the English "Lancaster", name of a son of the King of England, who bonded in times of Eduardo III with the Royal family of Portugal; Felipe II, to whose service went into his grandfather, had granted the first title of Duke of Linares. Fernando married in 1685 his missus Leonor de Silva with whom he/she had two sons who died soon. Signed the appointment of viceroy of new Spain Felipe V, as a sign of affection and trust which professed you, May 16, 1710.

He arrived in Veracruz in mid-October, and days later, on 7 November, it was received in San Cristóbal Ecatepec by the cabildo and the rest of the Viceregal authorities, who accompanied him to the town of Guadalupe and the Palace of Chapultepec. He/She took office on November 13 and came with all solemnity in the city of Mexico two days later.

Historians point out the extreme harshness with which the Duke of Linares was expressed to describe the situation of the Viceroyalty in the relationship that left his successor later. According to the viceroy "Mexican society had become the greatest corruption of customs. The main just try to hoard treasures and get cavalry... the mob is cautious but badly tilted, especially Rob. As to the ecclesiastical, pregnant the administration of Justice with its scandalous amancebamientos... and the mayors are plague of the provinces". It is said that he/she tried to go to the solution of all these evils, but with poor results. In the last paragraphs of that testimony, he/she added: "not troubled to V.E. his Government: mood, but every day he/she heard lift thousand testimonies, because has served my hobby heard tell many things that tell me I've instructed and that, without that I have gone through the imagination;" and verses and satires I laugh... "."

According to Orozco and Berra, his Government "was soft and fair; dedicated to pious exercises, dominated by the Jesuits, if not deployed energy nor even much capacity, he/she wanted to hold their actions to the precepts of Christianity and was affable and benevolent". The Treaty of Utrecht was signed during his term and ended the war of succession; the new reigning House in Spain was going to profoundly change the Administration, forms and the style of Government in America.

Very soon he/she had to attend to the most urgent needs of the population, inauguration day fell on the city of Mexico a terrible snow and August 16, 1711 felt a strong earthquake, which produced many victims and the collapse of many buildings in Mexico. It is said that you came with their own money to help the poor and the rebuilding of homes.

But the majority of local conflicts were. In the provinces of the North, especially the borders of Sonora and California peninsula, continued the work of missionary of the Jesuits, despite the death of father Kino which occurred March 15, 1711, thanks to the incorporation of new priests, supported by the actual ballot papers favorable to its activity, but lacking the resources of the Crown. In California, the Jesuits had established a system of Government that presided over the father Salvatierra, under whose command the soldiers and sailors of the Viceroyalty were subjected.

For the part of Texas, the French presence on the shores of Mississippi was still cause for concern. Louis of Saint Denis, who had begun their raids earlier in the century, achieved in 1714 the Spanish settlements of the Rio Grande, along a route parallel to the coast. In fact, the naivety of the Franciscan Friar Francisco Hidalgo, proposed to the French of Louisiana their collaboration on the evangelization of Texas, was the best excuse that Cadillac Governor found to approve the project of Saint Denis.

The Spanish response was swift and the Duke of Linares instructed Captain Domingo Ramón the reoccupation of the territory, starting from the presidio of Rio Grande, in the company of the Franciscans led by fray Antonio Margil. At the beginning of the year 1716 six new missions with the intention of reaching the French settlement in Natchitoches, settled down allowing you to check the extent of smuggling and profitable trade that the French had been developing with the Indian tribes of the region. In the Kingdom of Nuevo León was founded a colony called San Felipe de Linares.

In Veracruz, as a result of the treaties of Utrecht and the resumption of relations with England, under cover of a new "seat", was installed a British factory according to the French model, which was granted the monopoly to the introduction of black slaves in American territory under Spanish rule. But for the defense of the trade with the metropolis stipulated the prohibition of selling goods, the British knew through it, so increased smuggling and the introduction in the Viceroyalty of all kinds of consumer goods.

In the coasts of the Southeast, appearing not mentioned in the treaties of peace, the Spanish Crown felt free to pursue a policy of containment against foreign attacks. In the laguna de Términos, where British settlers had returned continued cuts in wood and export to Jamaica. In response, the viceroy had built in the dock at Coatzacoalcos four boats navigation light, which reinforced the Armada de Barlovento and allowed a more effective defence of Spanish interests. On the other hand, ordered the shipment of materiel, and the completion of the work of the Fort of Cumana.el 7 December 1716 was a Spanish Squadron, prepared in Veracruz and Campeche, in command of the sargento mayor Alonso Felipe de Andrade, which stunned the English and expelled them from the lagoon, where it had been fortified. When they tried to reconquer it in July of 1717 they returned to be defeated, so that the island and the laguna de Términos was finally free of English colonists.

In domestic policy, continued the works of drainage, so praised by Humboldt, which got them to consider "one of more huge waterworks that men have executed". Illustrated scientific opinion reflected in the critical analysis of the so-called "tajo de Nochistongo," allowing him to assess the efforts of the Crown and the Viceregal authorities over many years. The Marquis of Linares founded the first public library and the first Museum of animals and plants from New Spain.

To comply with its obligation to submit an important economic contribution to Madrid, he/she tried to increase the incomes of the Crown, which were based on the taxes, excises, fifth, the seat of pulque and the card game. But as on the other hand continued to grow "located" of funds in the Islands and other overseas places, the Viceregal Treasury was forced to collect in advance any of those taxes, which meant to increase the "chronic" routine indebtedness.

Still in the exercise of his command, he/she took part in the discussions of the Cabildo, which raised the way to pay the enormous costs that involved the preparation of the celebration of welcome to the new viceroy in June of 1816. I had to grant authorization to provide pensions for butchers ' shops, which would be paid within the period of three years, which he/she did willingly. The July 16 received to the Marqués de Valero when it came to the city of Mexico and took possession of his office.

The Marquis of Linares had come to Mexico widowed, childless and quite old, with a precarious health that suffers badly in recent months. In the hope that "the temperament of Mexico healed him of its ills," remained in the capital, but with the passing of the months his physical condition worsened significantly. The new viceroy tried to help him, ordering is to bring the image of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, from his shrine to the House of the Duke, in the hope that serve him of spiritual solace.Unable to overcome the disease, the Duke of Linares died in the city of Mexico on 3 June de1717. The Cabildo in body agreed to attend his funeral in the Church of San Sebastián, in the monastery of the Barefoot Carmelites.


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M. Ortuño