Coastal Defences in Chile

ValdiviaValdivia was founded in 1552 by the Spanish conquistaor Pedro de Valdivia

with the name of Santa Maria la Blancade Valdivia, naturally in honour of its founder. In 1598 the settlement was destroyed by hordes of native Mapuches and abandoned.

The area remained uninhabited until 1643 when the expedition of the Dutch Hendrick Brouwer, occupied for a time the littoral adjacent to the mouth of the Valdivia river, intending to challenge Spanish might from there.This incident led the Viceroy of Peru, Pedro Alvarez de Toledo y Leiva, Marquis of Mancera, to undertake the construction of a powerfull defensive system to defend the territorial integrity of Chile and Spanish empire.

The project considered the creation of four main forts, to operate jointly with cross-fire. With the passage of time the defensive installations grew in number and Valdivia became one of the largest colonial fortification system of Spanish America forming, together with Fortaleza del Real Felipe in Callao and Fuerte de San Diego in Acapulco, the Spanish defensive axis in the Pacific. Its fortifications had to prevent pirate and privateer attacks, defending the Spanish ships that rounded Cape Horn. At first the Viceroy of Peru decided to set the main political and military centre on Mancera Island after which he intended to build the other three main forts.

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Author: Christian Casartelli

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Keywords: Chile, Fortifications, Coastal defences, Batteries, Artillery


Christian Casartelli

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