|Orélie-Antoine de Tounens|
|King of Araucania and Patagonia|
|Reign||17 November 1860 - 17 September 1878|
|Born||12 May 1825|
|Died||17 September 1878 (aged 53)|
Orélie-Antoine de Tounens (born Antoine Tounens) (12 May 1825 - 17 September 1878) was a French lawyer and adventurer who proclaimed by a decree on 17 November 1860 that Araucanía and Patagonia did not depend of any other states and that a Kingdom of Araucanía was founded with himself as King under the name Orélie-Antoine I. It is disputed whether Tounens was a self-proclaimed king or was elected by some loncos (Mapuche chiefs). Arrested on 5 January 1862 by the Chilean authorities, Antoine de Tounens was imprisoned and declared insane on 2 September 1862 by the court of Santiago and expelled to France on 28 October 1862. Later he tried three times to come back to Araucanía to regain his "kingdom", but without success, and died in misery on 17 September 1878 in Tourtoirac, France.
In 1858, Antoine de Tounens, a former lawyer in Périgueux (France) had read the book of Alonso de Ercilla, La Araucana, and decided to go to Araucania, inspired by the book to become the King of Araucania. He landed at the port of Coquimbo in Chile and spent two years in Valparaíso and Santiago, studying Spanish. Later he moved South to the Bio-Bio where he met some loncos (Mapuche tribal leaders). He promised them arms and the help of France to maintain their independence from Chile. The indians elected him Great Toqui, Supreme Chieftain of the Mapuches possibly in the belief that their cause might be better served with a European acting on their behalf.
On 17 November 1860, Antoine de Touens proclaimed by a decree that the regions of Araucanía and Patagonia did not depend of any other states and that the Kingdom of Araucania was founded with himself as King under the name Orélie-Antoine I.
He sent copies of the constitution of his kingdom to Chilean newspapers and El Mercurio published a portion of it on 29 December 1860. Then he returned to Valparaíso to wait for the representatives of the Chilean government. They ignored him. He also attempted to involve the French government in his idea, but the French consul, after making some inquiries, came to the conclusion that de Tounens was insane. He returned to Araucanía where many Mapuche tribes were again preparing to fight the incursions of the Chilean Army during the occupation of Araucanía.
The supposed founding of the Kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia led to the Occupation of Araucanía by Chilean forces. Chilean president José Joaquín Pérez authorized Cornelio Saavedra Rodríguez, commander of the Chilean troops, to invade Araucanía.
His servant, Juan Bautista Rosales, contacted Chilean authorities and Antoine de Tounens was captured on 5 January 1862 by the Chilean army, then imprisoned and declared insane on 2 September 1862 by the court of Santiago and expelled to France on 28 October 1862.
Antoine de Tounens published his memoirs in 1863. In 1869, he returned to Araucanía, via Buenos Aires. The Mapuche were surprised to see him because Chileans had told them that they had executed him. De Tounens proceeded to reorganize his realm and again attracted the attention of the Chilean authorities. Colonel Cornelio Saavedra Rodríguez promised a reward for his head but the Mapuche decided to defend their unusual ally.
Without proper funds in 1871 he had to return to France, where he published a second set of his memoirs. He also founded an Araucanian newspaper La Corona de Acero ("The Steel Crown"). In 1872, he proclaimed that he was seeking a bride so that he might sire an heir; indeed, the next year, he wrote to tell his brother that he intended to marry a "mademoiselle de Percy", but there is no evidence that he ever did.
In 1874, he tried again to return to his kingdom, this time with some arms and ammunition he was able to gather with the feeble support of a few entrepreneurs in Europe. Because he was persona non grata in Chile, he traveled with a false passport. However, he was recognized as soon as he landed in Bahía Blanca (on the Argentine coast) in July 1874, and was summarily deported to France.
He tried to return again in 1876. However, local settlers robbed him on his way to Patagonia and handed him over to Chilean authorities. He also fell ill and had to go through an operation to survive. His health did not allow him to continue his journey and he had to return to France.
On 28 August 1873 the Criminal Court of Paris ruled that Antoine de Tounens, first king of Araucania and Patagonia did not justify his status of sovereign.
Antoine de Tounens died in misery on 17 September 1878 in Tourtoirac, France.
Antoine de Tounens had no children but since his death in 1878, some French citizens without familial relations declared themselves to be pretenders to the throne of Araucania and Patagonia. Whether the Mapuche themselves accept this, or are even aware of it, is unclear.
The pretenders to the throne of Araucania and Patagonia are called monarchs and sovereigns of fantasy, "having only fanciful claims to a kingdom without legal existence and having no international recognition".