Real Academia de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales
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Royal Decree
Exposition of the Royal Decree of foundation, 25 February 1847

MADAME:  Among the branches of human knowledge that the Ministry under my charge, created by Your Majesty specifically to promote the culture and well being of your subjects, should encourage in a preferential way are those of Mathematics,  Physics and Natural Sciences. Though these exert powerful influences over the industry and prosperity of nations, in our old educational system they unfortunately failed to occupy the prominence that they rightfully deserve.

In a short time, Madame, the Universities will be equipped with the means necessary to cultivate them.  It is hoped that their development will then be both  rapid and beneficial, but even taking this into account, the undersigned Minister believes that other equally effective means must be explored, ones that in foreign countries have  contributed powerfully to the enlargement of those sciences, and in their applications, to important results of all kinds.

The efforts of isolated scholars devoted to these studies are insufficient to yield optimum results in a field so vast as to defy human understanding.  They must meet and confer amongst themselves, communicate their observations, provide mutual help and ultimately establish extensive ties with the most imminent experts and Corporations of the globe.  In this way the immense commerce of ideas and discoveries will extend learning in every direction and lead the scholars to outdo one another in increasing the treasury of science.  If purely literary Societies have been of great service, the scientific ones are of no less importance and usefulness, and in fact  can be even more so, since the study of Nature requires, even more than that of languages and other sciences, the combined efforts of many men dedicated with one accord to the extraction of its secrets.

Thus Societies devoted to the cultivation of the Natural Sciences have increased and multiplied in all civilized countries, and  the foremost capitals of Europe pride themselves that, under the sponsorship of their Governments, they have carried out enormous projects and  attained well-deserved eminence.

Various attempts have been made in Spain to follow this laudable example, and in fact our nation preempted all the rest; the Royal Academy of Sciences existed in Madrid since 1580, that is to say, long before the famous Societies of Paris and London were founded. Some of the grandees and titled nobility of Castille formed part of this Academy, but  its existence was all too fragile, and when the Austrian dynasty was extinguished, it was totally forgotten.

The Marquis of Villena, who in the reign of King Philip V contributed so greatly to the creation of the Spanish Academy, had conceived its first project on a much broader terms, with the desire that it would embrace all the sciences. At a later date, seeing the successful results of those of Language and History, he revised that first idea, and Don Ignacio de Luzán drafted a project which led to the dispatch of commissioners to various foreign Academies, and machines were even purchased for the use of the new Association.

Unfortunately those efforts also failed to produce the desired results, and the attempts made on various later occasions had the same luck, particularly that of the illustrious Don Jorge Juan and Don Antonio de Ulloa.  Finally, in 1834 Your Majesty's august mother, being Governor of the Realm, aspired to the distinction of  founding such an essential institution in Spain, and by a Decree of February 7, created the Academy of Natural Science of Madrid, which still exists today. But the period was not conducive to such a Corporation producing the fruits which were expected from it, nor was it given the character and importance that the usefulness of its objectives required. Due to circumstances it was unavoidably neglected by the Government, and lacked the necessary means for fulfilling the ends for which it was intended. Though it has carried out an appreciable number of projects and has delivered down learned opinions, it still languishes in a pitiable state, and needs the support and resources needed to give it new life and permit it to be what should be expected from the enlightenment of its individual members. Madame, it is fitting that Your Majesty complete  the labor begun by your august mother.

In the enclosed project I propose the establishment of an Academy of Sciences with the same consideration and prerogatives held by the other Royal Academies.  In this way Your Majesty will bear fresh testimony in favor of the special protection deserved by all that contrive to promote enlightenment among your people. It will provide them with its inestimable advantages and  Your Majesty with one of the most illustrious glories of your  reign.


Madrid, 25 February, 1847.
Madame: I remain the servant of your Royal Majesty, Mariano Roca de Togores.