Orélie-Antoine de Tounens, King of Araucania and Patagonia

Orélie-Antoine de Tounens (born Antoine Tounens) (12 May 1825 – 17 September 1878) was a French lawyer and adventurer who proclaimed himself King of Araucania and Patagonia.

In 1858, Antoine de Tounens, a former lawyer in Périgueux (France) had read the book of Alonso de Ercilla, La Araucana, and decided to go to Araucania, inspired by the book to become the King of Araucania. He landed at the port of Coquimbo in Chile and spent two years in Valparaíso and Santiago, studying Spanish. Later he moved South to the Bio-Bio where he met some loncos (Mapuche tribal leaders). He promised them arms and the help of France to maintain their independence from Chile. The indians elected him Great Toqui, Supreme Chieftain of the Mapuches possibly in the belief that their cause might be better served with a European acting on their behalf.

By two decrees on November 17, 1860 and November 20, 1860, he proclaimed himself King of Araucania and Patagonia under the name Orélie-Antoine I. He sent copies of the constitution of his kingdom to Chilean newspapers and El Mercurio published a portion of it on 29 December 1860. Then he returned to Valparaíso to wait for the representatives of the Chilean government. They ignored him. He also attempted to involve the French government in his idea, but the French consul, after making some inquiries, came to the conclusion that de Tounens was insane. He returned to Araucanía where many Mapuche tribes were again preparing to fight the incursions of the Chilean Army during the occupation of Araucanía.

The supposed founding of the Kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia led to the Occupation of Araucanía by Chilean forces. Chilean president José Joaquín Pérez authorized Cornelio Saavedra Rodríguez, commander of the Chilean troops, to invade Araucanía.On January 5, 1862, he was arrested by the Chilean army and imprisoned. He was declared insane by the court of Santiago on September 2, 1862, and expelled to France on 28 October 28, 1862. He tried three further times to come back to Araucanía to regain his "kingdom", but without success, and he died in poverty on 17 September, 1878, in Tourtoirac, France. (This temporary text has been reproduced from this article and will be replaced with our own text soon.) 

Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia as devised by King Orllie-Antoine. These are the arms depicted on one of the coins in our collection.

Current Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia as used in their official website.

Prince Frédéric I, the current claimant to the throne of Araucania & Patagonia, is the latest of a long list of elected monarchs dating back to King Orllie-Antoine I. Credit: © Stephanie Fuessenich

Orélie-Antoine de Tounens being proclaimed as King of Araucania and Patagonia by the Mapuche nation on November 17, 1860.

Reigned as

King Orllie-Antoine I of Araucania and Patagonia


17 November 1860 – 17 September 1878


Non-Hereditary Monarchy


None held; On 17 November 1860 some Mapuche loncos (chieftains) elected  Orélie-Antoine as their King.


Kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia (November 17, 1860 — January 5, 1862)


Prince Frédéric I of Araucanía (March 24, 2018 — present)

Objects in our Collection

Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia, 1874, 2 centavos pattern coin

Pattern coin, 1874  

Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia, 1874, Dos Centavos pattern coin. 

Consider a Donation  

To help our collection grow, consider a donation. We are glad to accept donations of objects relating to the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia, as well as to any other self-proclaimed or ephemeral monarchy. Financial contributions to help with acquisitions are just as welcome.