C E N T R O   D I   S T U D I   M A L A S P I N I A N I


Mulazzo, Massa-Carrara, Italy

Communiqué No.2,      29 November 2000

Edited by Dario Manfredi, translated by John Black


    The proposal to send out from time to time news of events directly or indirectly concerning the Malaspina family, and particularly the navigator Alexandro, has met with approval, and so will be continued.
    The Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre in Nanaimo (British Columbia, Canada), in turn, has decided to post the first communiqué on its website, along with a version in English. We hope that this helpful collaboration will continue.  Anyone interested in visiting the website of the Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre can do so at:
               or: http://www.mala.bc.ca/~black/amrc/amrc.htm
    Our own Centro would like to announce that information on its structure and operation can be read at:


1.    The restoration of the Malaspina castle Terrarossa (in the municipality of Licciana Nardi) is complete. The castle will be equipped for accommodating, at moderate cost, parties of tourists (preferably young people) who intend to follow cultural itineraries within Lunigiana.


FERNANDEZ-SHAW, Carlos M, España y Australia: Cinco siglos de Historia [Spain and Australia: Five Centuries of History] (A. Ibarrola y Mercedes Palau eds., adapted by Isabel Valcarcel), Madrid, Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, 2000, 200 pp.  English text also included.
    A whole chapter (pp. 62-73) is devoted to the Malaspina Expedition.

PORRUA, Enrique, "Malaspina in the Pacific: Spanish Scientific Exploration in the Age of Reason", Mains'l Haul. A Journal of Pacific Maritime History, San Diego, 36, 1, winter 2000, pp. 38-47.
    It is certainly very important that magazines of popular character also deal with Alexandro Malaspina.  Unfortunately the circumstances surrounding this navigator were extremely complex  and the subject does not easily lend itself to treatment in a few pages.  This results in some imprecision (for example: neither Paolo Greppi nor Gherardo Rangoni was a naturalist) and some inaccurate assertions.  We shall mention what seems to us the most serious: in the article one can  read that "The [I]talian-born [officer] did not cease his intrigues against Godoy [...] and formed a conspiracy to overthrow him."  Yet it has been amply demonstrated already that the political project of Malaspina cannot be defined as a  "plot" or "conspiracy."  If there was a conspiracy - the Spanish historiographer Anthony Lafuente has written recently - Malaspina was the victim of it.  In fact it was Godoy who conspired against Malaspina!

BENELLI, Joseph, "Annetta Malaspina della Bastia alla corte di Parma [Annetta Malaspina della Bastia at the Court of Parma]", La Casana, Genoa, XLII (2000), 1, pp. 40-47.
    It will be remembered that Annetta Malaspina lived at the Court of Parma and was entrusted with a delicate mission to the French Court, in an attempt to change the positive attitude of Louis XIV towards the Jesuits.

MANFREDI, Dario, "Cenni sulle dimore malaspiniane di Mulazzo [Notes on the Malaspina residences in Mulazzo]", Cronaca e Storia di Val di Magra, XXVIII-XXIX (1999-2000), Aulla, 2000, pp. 101-115.
    This is a first attempt to investigate the castles, buildings, towers and religious buildings that the Malaspina marquises of Mulazzo built in the main town of their fiefdom.


Latest publications to arrive at the Centre:

Christopher Columbus: Documents and Proofs of his Genoese Origin, Genoa, Municipality of Genoa, 1932, 288 pp.  German text also included.

MORISON, Samuel E., Cristoforo Colombo, Milan, Mondadori, 1958, 260 pp.

MANFREDI, Dario, Alessandro Malaspina e Fabio Ala Ponzone: Lettere dal Vecchio e Nuovo Mondo [Alexandro Malaspina and Fabio Ala Ponzone: Letters from the Old and New World] (1788-1803), Bologna, Il Mulino, 1999, 488 pp.

LISTA, Ramón, Obras, tomo 2° (Jorge Carman ed.), Editorial Confluencia, 1998, 456 pp.

ENTRAIGAS, Raúl A., Piedra Buena caballero del mar [Piedra Buena, Cavalier of the Sea], Buenos Aires, Ed. El Elefante Blanco, 2000, 410 pp.

PERON, Juan Domingo, Toponomastica patagonica di etimologia araucana, El Calafate Editores, 84 pp.

GERBI, Antonello, La disputa del Nuovo Mondo [The New World Dispute].  New edition by Sandreos Gerbicon with an essay by Anthony Melis. Milan, Adelphi, 2000, 1020 pp.


On the homeland of Alexandro Malaspina: a few definitive words (and two images).

    Many debates are possible about the figure of Alexandro Malaspina, since there are many issues that can elicit divergent opinions.  To give one example, it would take a very long discussion  (and it would be good to have it!) to establish if we should consider him an original thinker or merely a follower of Hume or Rousseau.
    There are, on the other hand, certain fixed points about which debate is not admissible, since there are some historical ideas which sufficiently comprehend reality and, therefore, allow one to avoid inaccurate description.  Among these fixed points is the fact of his birth.  Yet we find that people continue to write things which are absolutely without foundation.
    In a recent Spanish publication one can read that Mulazzo, at the time when Alexandro Malaspina was born, "formed part of the Spanish Duchy of Parma."  In a more recent article Pontremoli is still referred to as the "capital of Lunigiana, in his [Malaspina's] native Duchy of Parma."
    Well, it has been written in hundreds of publications that Pontremoli was never the capital of Lunigiana, for the simple fact that Lunigiana has never constituted a unified political entity, but, on the contrary, was always divided among the Republic of Genoa, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and a myriad of Imperial fiefdoms and principalities.  As for Mulazzo, then, it was always an imperial fiefdom, solely and directly dependent on the Holy Roman Empire.  This historical truth continues to hold today: in fact "historical" Lunigiana belongs partly to the region of Tuscany (the province of Massa-Carrara) and partly to the region of Liguria (the province of La Spezia). Only a tiny part of Lunigiana (which does not include Mulazzo) belongs to the region of Emilia (in the province of Parma).
    In the hope that pictures will speak louder than words, we attach to this note a political map of Italy in 1754 (the year when Alexandro was born) and a map showing in detail the political division of Lunigiana in that same year.

Relevant Bibliography:

MANFREDI, Dario, Italiano in Spagna spagnolo in Italia [Italian in Spain, Spanish in Italy], Rome, Nuova Eri, 1992.
PIMENTEL, Juan, La física de la monarquía, Ciencia y política en el pensamiento de Alejandro Malaspina [Physics and the Monarchy: Science and Politics in the Thought of Alexandro Malaspina] (1754-1810), Aranjuez, Doce Calles, 1998.
KENDRICK, John, Alejandro Malaspina: Portrait of a Visionary, Montreal & Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1999.

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