What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

321 - The Forgotten Kingdom of Araucania-Patagonia

October 19, 2008, 7:44 AM


Almost a century and a half after Orélie-Antoine de Tounens assumed the title of King of Araucania-Patagonia, his descendants still lay claim to the throne of that putative monarchy at the southern tip of South America.

The website that maintains a flicker of hope for Araucania-Patagonian* independence states that De Tounens, a French lawyer, was crowned King by the native Mapuche (or Araucana) Indians. This sounds a bit on the self-serving side of far-fetched, considering the Mapuche’s long history of violent and successful resistance to foreign domination of any kind, be it Inca, Spanish or Chilean.

Especially since King Orélie-Antoine I, when exiled to Paris by the Chilean government, made no bones of referring to his distant and rather inhospitable realm as la Nouvelle France, to drum up support for his cause and convince enough of his countrymen to become colonists in the new state.

Surely, the Mapuche would have minded French dominion about as much as they objected to Chilean supremacy. Only at the time, the former seemed less likely than the latter, which is what the Mapuche must have thought, if the crowning of the Frenchman was entirely their idea.

The Kingdom of Araucania-Patagonia was proclaimed on 17 November 1860 to comprise the Mapuche tribal areas south of the Rio Biobio in Chile. Four days later, the new King extended his claim to include all lands south of the Rio Negro in Argentina, all the way down to the Straits of Magellan.

The Kingdom’s first and only resident monarch established his capital at the town of Perquenco, whence he was chased by a Chilean military expedition that eventually led to the pacification, occupation and annexation of Araucania.

After his expulsion in 1862, the King mounted three unsuccessful expeditions to reclaim his throne, and died in France in 1878. The kingdom has been a geopolitical chimera ever since. For a very brief moment in 1984 (and again in 1998), the Kingdom regained actual physical form when a man named Jean Raspail** floated the Royal Araucania-Patagonian flag over Les Minquiers, a small archipelago in the English Channel. Formally part of the British-ruled Channel Islands, he proclaimed them to be la Patagonie septentrionale (‘Northern Patagonia’).

Although Araucania-Patagonia was never recognised by any other nation, the royal family has never relinquished its claim to the throne. To this day, there is a pretender – Prince Philippe of Araucania. Chances of his ever wielding the sceptre over an antipodean version of Quebec are very small indeed. His Royal Highness does seem to be involved in fighting for the cultural rights of the Mapuche Indians, who currently number about 1 million in Argentina and Chile together.

Many thanks to Diego Carando for pointing out the website www.araucania.org, which contains this map of the Kingdom here. 

* Or should that be Araucanian-Patagonian?

** In 1981, Raspail won the Prix roman de l’Academie francaise for his novel Moi, Antoine de Tounens, roi de Patagonie. He was also consul-general for Arauncania-Patagonia.


321 - The Forgotten Kingdom...

Newsletter: Share: