Fages, Pedro (1734–1794)

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Fages, Pedro (1734–1794)

Pedro Fages (b. 1734; d. 1794), Spanish soldier and explorer. Fages, a native of Guisona, Catalonia, joined the Barcelona-based Catalonian volunteers in 1767 and participated in the Sonora Expedition of 1767–1771 in Mexico. In 1769 Visitador General José de Gálvez ordered him and twenty-five Catalonian Volunteers to join Governor Gaspar de Portolá's California expedition. Between 1769 and 1774, Fages participated in the founding of San Diego, the march to Monterey that named many sites in California, and the discovery of San Francisco Bay. Nicknamed "The Bear" ("El Oso"), Fages was the European discoverer of the Central and San Joaquín Valleys. In 1774 he wrote A Historical, Political, and Natural Description of California, an important ethnographic account of the area featuring references to its flora and fauna. Between 1774 and 1778, Fages commanded the Second Company of Catalonian Volunteers in Guadalajara. In 1776 he married Eulalia Callis, daughter of Agustín Callis, captain of the First Company of Catalonian Volunteers. In 1778 Fages served in Sonora, where in 1781 he commanded troops in the Colorado River campaign against the Yuma Indians who had destroyed a Spanish outpost at the confluence of the Colorado and Gila Rivers. In 1782 he was the first European to reach San Diego by crossing the Colorado River. He served as governor of California from 1782 to 1791, a generally peaceful time of mission building. Fages died in Mexico City.

See alsoCalifornia; Catalonia Volunteers; Colorado River; Sonora.


Donald A. Nuttall, "Pedro Fages and the Advance of the Northern Frontier of New Spain, 1767–1782" (Ph.D. diss. University of Southern California, 1964).

Joseph P. Sánchez, Spanish Bluecoats: The Catalonian Volunteers in Northwestern New Spain, 1767–1810 (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Rodríguez Sala de Gomezgil, María Luisa, and Pedro López González. Exploraciones en Baja California y Alta California, 1769–1775: Escenarios y personajes. Mexico City: UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales: Amat, 2002.

Soler Vidal, Josep. California, la aventura catalana del noroeste. Mexico: Libros del Umbral, 2001.

                                        Joseph P. SÁnchez