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The frigate Mercedes

El rey Carlos IV, de Francisco de Goya. Museo del Prado
Detalle de la planta del cacao, en F.P. Chaumeton, Flore Medicale, París, 1818, tomo 2. Real Jardín Botánico
De español y mestiza, castizo de Andrés de Islas. Museo de América

On 16 October 1802, Miguel Cayetano Soler ordered the Viceroys of Peru and Rio de la Plata, via a Royal Order from the Secretary of State and of the Treasury, to collect and despatch all the funds they could for the public purse. A few weeks later, the frigate Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, charged with collecting such funds, sailed out of the port of El Ferrol on what would be her last mission. The story of this frigate is an excellent reflection of the history of Spain and Spanish America in the early 19th century and of the political and economic relations between the two territories. The sinking of the Mercedes would be the prelude to new international conflicts and one of the battles that has had the most impact on the history of humanity: the Battle of Trafalgar, or the sinking of Spain's dominion of the seas.