Malaspina, Alejandro or Alessandro (älāhänˈdrō mäläspēˈnä; älās-sänˈdrō) [key], 1754–1810, Italian-Spanish naval officer and explorer, b. Mulazzo, Italy. From a minor N Italian noble family, he entered the Spanish navy in 1774. He served in action and on voyages to the Philippines and also mapped sections of Spain's coast before receiving his first command (1786). In 1789 he led two ships on 62-month expedition that toured Spain's colonies in the Americas and the Philippines (and other lands as well) and searched along the North American Pacific coast as far north as Prince William Sound, Alaska, for a Northwest Passage. During the voyage, the crew conducted significant scientific and ethnographic research. After his return to Spain Malaspina advocated liberal colonial reforms and ran afoul of King Charles IV and his chief minister, Godoy. Arrested and tried in secret, he was imprisoned from 1796 to 1802, when he was released and exiled. Malaspina returned to Italy, where he was active in political and governmental affairs for several years. The extensive and valuable records of his expedition were largely ignored for many years as a result his disgrace; a comprehensive edition of his expedition journal was not published in Spain until 1990.
See the journal of his expedition ed. by A. David et al. (tr. in 3 vol., 2001–); biographies by J. Kendrick (1999) and D. Manfredi (tr. 2001); studies by D. C. Cutter (1960) and T. Vaughan et al. (1977).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.