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Felipe Manuel Cayetano de Amat y de Juniet ( ) (March 1707 – February 14, 1782) was a Spanish military officer and colonial administrator. He was governor of Chile from December 28, 1755 to September 9, 1761, and viceroy of Peru from October 12, 1761 to July 17, 1776.

Origins and military career

Felipe Manuel Cayetano de Amat y de Junyent was born in March of 1707 in Vacarisses (near Barcelonamarker), into an aristocratic Spanish family. His father was José de Amat y de Planella, marquis de Castellbell, and his mother was Mariana de Junyent y de Vergós, daughter of the marquis de Castellmeià.

He entered the army at a young age. In 1719 he saw hostile action against the French in Aragonmarker. At the age of 17 he joined the Order of Malta and went to the island, where he remained four years. He later served in the wars in Africa, and obtained the command of a regiment of dragoons.

He distinguished himself in the Battle of Bitontomarker in the Kingdom of Naples (May 25, 1734). There he served with the contingent under the command of the Duke of Montemar that defeated the Austrians at Bitontomarker in the War of the Polish Succession. He also stood out in the siege of Gaetamarker later in 1734.

He was promoted to field marshal.

As governor of Chile

In 1755 he was sent to America, as governor and president of the Audiencia of Chile. He traveled throughout the colony, and ordered the construction of fortifications on the coast and along the frontier with the Mapuche (for example, Santa Bárbara). He founded the towns of Talcamávida, Hualquimarker and Nacimientomarker, among others. He entered negotiations with the Mapuches, the first time in Salto del Lajamarker in 1758, and another time in Santiago de Chilemarker in February 1760. His goal was to guarantee the security of communications between Concepciónmarker and Chiloé, but he was only partly successful.

In Santiago he began important public works and administrative tasks, including improvements to bridges over the Río Mapochomarker, a market in the Plaza de Armas, and the reform of the Royal University of San Felipe (1757). On October 12, 1758 he established the first police force in Chile, called the Dragones de la Reina (Dragoons of the Queen). This name was retained until the independence of Chile. In 1812 the force was renamed the Dragones de Chile.

He asked for and got a juicio de residencia (trial of grievances). The outcome was in his favor.

As viceroy of Peru

On October 12, 1761 he succeeded José Manso de Velasco, 1st Count of Superunda as viceroy of Peru. He was replaced on July 17, 1776 by Manuel de Guirior, marqués de Guirior.

He had the fortress of Real Felipe constructed in Callaomarker. It was finished in 1774. In September 1767, following orders from the Crown, he expelled the Jesuits from the colony. He founded the Royal College of San Carlos.

He constructed various public works in Lima. Probably the most famous are the Alameda de los Descalzos and the Paseo de Aguas, in the district of Rímac. He also remodeled the Alameda de Acho.

Tradition says the Paseo de Aguas was built in honor of his mistress, the actress Micaela Villegas, better known as La Perricholi, a Mestiza woman. The story is that when the viceroy asked her to become his mistress, she replied that she would when he laid the moon at her feet. Amat y Junient then ordered the construction of the Paseo de Aguas in front of her house. It is an aqueduct from the Rímac Rivermarker with a fountain and a long, narrow reflecting pool, with a promenade along the sides of the pool. The night of the following full moon, he invited her to view it with him.

La Perricholi's life inspired painters, writers and musicians. It provided the basis for Prosper Mérimée’s comic novella Le Carrosse du Saint-Sacrement, which in turn was the basis for both Jacques Offenbach’s opéra bouffe La Périchole and Jean Renoir’s 1953 film Le Carrosse d'or (The Golden Coach). She and the viceroy are also prominent characters in Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey.

Also under his administration, the Plaza de Toros de Acho, the world's third oldest surviving bull ring, was built by Agustin de Landaburu. It was the first bull ring in Peru, and opened with a corrida and a great celebration on February 22, 1762.

Fearing that Captain Cook's explorations would lead to the establishment of British bases from which attacks could be launched on Peru, he organized an expedition under the command of Domingo de Bonechea to Tahitimarker, which arrived just after that of Captain Cook, but in time to explore other islands in the group which Cook had not discovered. In subsequent voyages ordered by Amat, de Bonechea discovered most of French Polynesia.

He also sent an expedition under Juan Antonio de Buenechea to search for the doomed ship Oriflama, piloted by his kinsman Manuel de Buenechea.

Amat established the first Regulation of Commerce and Organization of Customs rules, which led to the building of the customshouse in Callao.[358751]

Last Days

Amat returned home to Barcelona on October 22, 1777. His only marriage was to María Francisca de Fivaller y de Bru in June 1779. He was 72 years old, and she 24. Amat died in Barcelonamarker on February 14, 1782. His widow died on October 3, 1791. Amat had no legitimate children.

References

  • Most of this article is a loose translation of the Spanish Wikipedia article, accessed on September 26, 2006.


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