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Spanish diplomat dies of head injury


On this day in 1779, Athanase de Mézières died at San Antonio of lingering effects from a head injury suffered in a fall from a horse. Mézières was born to nobility in Paris in 1719 and served in the French army in Louisiana in the 1730s. In 1746, while stationed at Natchitoches, Louisiana, he married Marie de St. Denis, the daughter of Louis Juchereau and Manuela Sánchez Navarro de St. Denis; the marriage ended the following year, when Marie died in childbirth. In 1763, shortly after Louisiana had passed from French to Spanish control, Mézières offered his services to Spain. Skilled in Latin, French, and Spanish as well as in several Indian languages, he embarked on an extraordinary career as Spanish agent to the Indians of northern Texas. He negotiated several important treaties, and in 1772 made the earliest definite mention of the Texas Iron, which was for years the largest recorded meteorite in the world. In 1778 Bernardo de Gálvez, governor of Louisiana, assigned Mézières to forge an alliance among the Spanish, Comanches, and Norteños against the Apaches. To this end Mézières spent much of the next year traveling, and was en route from Los Adaes to Nacogdoches when he was thrown from his horse. He arrived in San Antonio, where he learned he had been appointed governor of Texas, in September 1779, but never assumed office. The proposed alliance with the Comanches and Norteños never came to pass.

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