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Orelie-Antoine de Tounens

Topics: Chilean people

Orelie-Antoine de Tounens (1825-1878) was a French lawyer and adventurer who assumed the title of King of Araucania and Patagonia. It is disputed whether Tounens was a self-proclaimed king or was elected by a group of loncos (Mapuche tribal leaders).

Orelie-Antoine de Tounens was born May 12 1825 in Chourgnac d'Ans, France. He moved to Coquimbo in Chile in 1858 and spent two years in Valparaiso 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 Araucania, a territory until then abandoned and apparently irrelevant to the Chilean state. 1860 he moved to Araucania among the Mapuche Indians who, at the time, were de facto independent.

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 Biobio River. November 17 1860 he signed a declaration of Araucanian independence in the farm of French settler F. Desfontaine, who became his "foreign minister". And with an assembly of the chieftains of the various tribes of the territory known as "Araucania" 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 Valparaiso to wait for the representatives of the Chilean government. They primarily 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 Tounens was insane.

Related websites

The king's picture (in Spanish)

North American Araucanian Royalist Society

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