Volume 1 briefly describes the Falklands landscape and wildlife before analysing the discovery of the islands, revealing strong evidence that they were discovered at the latest around 1518-19 by a Portuguese expedition, not by Vespucci or Magellan.
It recounts early visits to the islands, and gives a detailed description of the First Falklands Crisis of 1764-71, in which France set up the first settlement in the islands, followed by Britain. The Spanish government then forced France to hand the islands over to Spain; war threatened between Britain and Spain over the Falklands but was averted by the Anglo-Spanish agreement of 1771. An examination of the original texts demonstrates that the agreement did not contain a reservation of Spanish rights, that Britain did not make a secret promise to abandon the islands, and that the Nootka Sound Convention of 1790 did not restrict Britain’s rights but greatly extended them at the expense of Spain.
The French, British and Spanish periods in the 18th century are recounted, and the Argentine period (1824-33) is described in greater detail than in any previous work, with extensive documentation from the Argentine national archives in Buenos Aires and the National Archives in London. The development of the islands’ population is analysed, revealing how tiny the Argentine settlement was in 1826-33. In April 1829 there were only 52 people, and there was a constant turnover; many people stayed only a few months. The maximum number of people during the Argentine period was 128 in July 1831.
Volume 1 ends just before the beginning of the Second Falklands Crisis of 1831-3, unleashed by Argentina’s representative in the islands, Louis Vernet, who seized three American sealing ships. The resulting international crisis is recounted in volume 2.
Volume 2 takes the story from 1831 to 1855. It describes the Second Falklands Crisis of 1831-3, beginning with a dispute between Argentina and the United States unleashed by Louis Vernet, Argentina’s representative in the islands. He seized three American sealing ships; the United States reacted by removing over half the population (about 47 out of 85 people, leaving about 38). British concerns over possible US involvement led Britain to re-assert sovereignty over the islands in 1833, and to exercise it from 1834.
The myth that Britain expelled an Argentine population from the Falklands in 1833 is refuted in detail from the original documents – in fact Britain expelled only the mutinous, murderous Argentine garrison, but encouraged the civilian residents to stay, and most did.
There followed the “Year of Limbo” in 1833-4, without an official presence from any country. The events of 1833-4, during which Charles Darwin visited the Falklands twice, are recounted, and the Port Louis murders of 26 August 1833 are described in detail.
A crucial document printed here is the 1850 Convention of Peace between Argentina and Britain. At Argentina’s insistence, this was a comprehensive peace treaty which restored “perfect friendship” between the two countries. Critical exchanges between the Argentine and British negotiators are printed for the first time, which show that Argentina dropped its claim to the Falklands and accepted that the islands are British. That, and many later acts by Argentina, definitively ended any Argentine title to the islands.
Volume 2 ends in 1855, by which time the first generation of native Falkland Islanders was beginning to be born.
How to purchase
The Falklands Saga, Volume 1, Library Edition:
A4 size, 731 pages, with maps, tables, col. & b+w illus., notes, glossary, bibliography.
Hardcover, thread-sewn binding, ISBN 978-1-9162620-5-8: ₤98 incl. p&p worldwide.
The Falklands Saga, Volume 2, Library Edition:
A4 size, 767 pages, with maps, tables, col. & b+w illus., notes, glossary, bibliography.
Hardcover, thread-sewn binding, ISBN 978-1-9162620-6-5: ₤98 incl. p&p worldwide.
Both volumes together: ₤190 incl. p&p worldwide.