Alessandro Malaspina

Alessandro Malaspina

Alessandro (or Alejandro or Alexandro) Malaspina (1754–1810) was an Italian nobleman turned Spanish captain and explorer of the West Coast of North America. In the late eighteenth century, Spain launched many Royal Botanical Expeditions to explore the flora of their overseas territories. One such journey included Malaspina’s Expedition of the Pacific Ocean from 1789–1794. Traveling and mapping exotic regions such as Cape Horn, Alaska, and New Zealand, Malaspina produced invaluable maps and information on the geography and botany of the explored areas. The King of Spain instructed him to search for the legendary Northwest Passage but in 1791, after exploring the Alaskan coast, Malaspina reported that it did not exist. Like many voyages, the Malaspina Expedition yielded bountiful insights into the natural history of colonial possessions, but upon his return to Spain, Malaspina became involved in a political plot to overthrow the king, which delayed the publication and acknowledgement of his achievements until the nineteenth century.


Bleichmar, Daniela. Visible Empire: Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012.

Vancouver Island University. “About Captain Alexandro Malaspina: General Information.” http://www.viu.ca/calendar/FrontSection/AlexandroMalaspina.asp (accessed December 2, 2013).

 
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