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Pedro Fages Beleta ( ) (1734–1794), nicknamed El Oso, was a soldier, explorer, and the second Spanish military Governor of New Californiamarker from 1770 to 1774, and Governor of the Californias from 1782 to 1791.

Life

Fages was born in Guissona, Lleidamarker province, Cataloniamarker, Spainmarker. In 1767, Lieutenant Fages left Spain with the Free Company of Volunteers of Cataloniamarker for New Spain, to serve under Domingo Elizondo in Sonoramarker. In 1769, Fages was selected by Viceroy José de Gálvez to lead the shipborn portion of the Gaspar de Portolà led expedition to found San Diego, Californiamarker. Fages sailed from La Pazmarker on January 10, 1769, aboard the San Carlos, and arrived at San Diego Baymarker on April 29 with scurvy-ridden troops, after sailing over 200 mi (320 km) off course because of cartography errors. Fages accompanied the 1769 and 1770 land expeditions to locate Monterey Baymarker. During this time he was promoted to captain.

After Portolà left California in 1770, Fages served as the somewhat independent military governor of California Nueva (New California), which was later to become Alta Californiamarker, headquartered in Montereymarker. During this time, Fages explored by land San Francisco Baymarker, San Pablo Baymarker, the Carquinez Straitmarker, the San Joaquin River, and surrounding areas; and earned his nickname El Oso while hunting bears near San Luis Obispomarker. Fages quarreled with Father Junípero Serra, presidente of the Alta California missions, and was replaced in 1774 by Fernando Rivera y Moncada.

In 1777 Fages returned to Sonoramarker to fight the Apache, where he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In 1782 he was appointed Governor of the Californias, replacing Felipe de Neve, and returned to Monterey, which had replaced Loretomarker as the capital of the Californias in 1777. He was promoted to colonel in 1789, and resigned his governorship in 1791. He moved back to Mexico Citymarker, where he died in 1794.

Fages married Eulalia Callis June 3, 1780 in Mexico City. She was born October 4, 1758 in Barcelona, Spainmarker and journeyed to Mexico City with her mother and brother to join her father Agustín Callis. Her father was a Captain of a company of Spanish soldiers sent to suppress Indian rebellions. Eulalia loved fashion and believed in charity. At Mission San Carlosmarker, she gave away her clothing after seeing the lack of clothing worn by the Indians.

Fictional portrayals

Pedro Fages appears as a minor character in the 1955 film Seven Cities of Gold, which presents a fanciful and historically inaccurate account of the founding of Spanish California. Lieutenant Fages is played by Mexican actor Victor Junco. In the credits, Fages' name is misspelled as "Faces."

Governor Fages and his wife make a brief appearance in the Isabel Allende novel Zorro.

References




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