Author Topic: Articles of Canonization: Gregor MacGregor, adventurer, turncoat, conman  (Read 1937 times)

Nibor the Priest

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I found out this guy a while ago and he seems like a candidate for Discordian sainthood. A Scots-born officer in the British, Portuguese and Venezuelan armies who later made up a country and made a living selling nonexistent land to would-be colonisers.

The formal Articles of Canonization is attached (this is a PDF with the same text as the rest of this post, but some slightly fancy formatting and a picture of MacGregor.)



I. Pontifical Bullshit

By the Power invested in Us as Supreme Pope of Eris, We hereby nominate Gregor MacGregor (1786–1845), variously styled as Baronet, General, Colonel, Knight of the Order of Christ, and Cazique of Poyais; military officer, explorer, adventurer, turncoat and confidence trickster (hereafter “the Candidate”, “Gregor”, or “this guy”) for Canonization to the rank of Discordian Saint (Second Class), Order of Quixote.

Other Supreme Popes of Eris are free to ratify, amend, redefine or ignore these Articles by the power invested in them.

II. Life of the Candidate

A great-nephew of Scots rebel leader Rob Roy, born in Stirlingshire to a disfavoured clan and unimaginative parents, the Candidate joined the British Army at age 16, conceivably with the intent of sowing chaos within the imperialist ranks in vengeance for his own family’s mistreatment at British hands.

He fought, sweet-talked and/or bribed his way to the rank of Captain; thereafter, he repeatedly abandoned his posts and turned coats, allying over the course of his career with several European powers fighting over the right to pretend bits of South America belonged to them, and causing chaos which set back the colonisation of the continent by an unknown number of years. He tried exploring, but didn’t find anything. He eventually found himself ingratiated with Simon Bolivar and became a general in the revolutionary army of Venezuela.

In 1820, “King” George Frederic Augustus I of Miskita, a politically powerless puppet of the British Empire, “granted” the Candidate an area of uncultivatable land on the Mosquito Coast. Gregor dubbed this area “the Poyais” and himself its “cazique”, a word which he claimed translated as “prince”. Gregor MacGregor sailed back to Britain.

The Cazique of Poyais appeared in London in 1821, handing out neat pamphlets which documented the Poyais as a wondrous land of exploitable forest, rolling pastures, rivers containing literal gold balls, and animals that practically threw themselves in front of your hunting rifle. Under his prudent caziquing, the Poyais now had a flourishing capital city, a functioning government, and its own currency, of which he carried several rolls of banknotes and was happy to trade for pounds or dollars at a very generous exchange rate. The Cazique attended high society dinners and balls, and made a living for many years selling nonexistent land and government bonds in Poyais to gullible would-be colonisers.

(“Real” explorers did the same thing, of course; Gregor just skipped over the step of actually stealing a bunch of land beforehand.)

Two ships set sail for Poyais carrying eager colonists. About a quarter of them made it back to London. Some were after Gregor’s blood. Others defended him to the end, insisting that the reason they found an uncultivatable swamp where the Republic of Poyais should have been was the result of sabotage by jealous agents of the Spanish or Portuguese.

The authorities eventually caught up with the Candidate and tried him for fraud. He prepared an elaborate and completely false 5000-word defence, and was acquitted of all charges.

The Candidate later returned to Venezuela. He died in 1845 and was buried in Caracas Cathedral, with full military honours in recognition of his service during the War of Independence, which may or may not have been accurately recorded.

III. Virtuosity

I’m not at all sure he had any. On the other hand, he probably fucked up for the bad guys more often than he did for the good guys.

IV. Miracles

As per the Ancient and Immalleable Rules Governing Canonization of Saints Which I Just Made Up, ascension to Sainthood requires evidence of at least five (5) miracles performed by the Candidate before, during or after their death. A miracle is defined as an act inexplicable by natural or scientific laws, or at least damned hard to pull off.

Miracles attributed to Candidate Gregor MacGregor include:

    I. The (briefly) successful capture of Amelia Island in 1817 by a single ship, commanded by the Candidate and carrying a few dozen men; the Spanish garrison there, which easily outgunned the invader, was so incredulous that anyone would be foolish enough to attempt to capture the island with a single ship that they assumed it must be leading a much larger force, and surrendered with no shots fired;

    II. The spontaneous creation in 1821 of an entire country, the Republic of Poyais, complete with a democratic system of government, civil service, and functioning infrastructure, in 1821;

    III. The transubstantiation of the aforesaid country, by which it assumed the spiritual nature of a well-governed republic rich in minerals and opportunity, while maintaining the outward substance of an uninhabitable malarial swamp, making it impossible to distinguish from the latter by mundane means;

    IV. The instantaneous transportation of large amounts of money into his own bank account from those of various rich British marks;

    V. The continued support of many of the aforesaid marks for the Candidate, even after they had paid him the aforesaid large amounts of money, sailed to “Poyais”, found an uninhabitable swamp, and barely made it back to Europe racked by typhoid and jaguar bites.

V. Verdict

After an extensive five-minute period of pineal consultation on the merits or otherwise of the above Articles:

Congratulations! Saint Gregor MacGregor, Cazique of Poyais, is formally admitted to the Second-Most Holy Order of Second-Class Saints and the Order of Quixote, as Patron Saint of explorers, imaginary countries and confidence tricksters.