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Blas de Lezo House

Standing right in the centre of the old part of Pasai San Pedro, on its narrow, picturesque street, not far from the Fishermen's Association and the Parish Church, is the stone Blas de Lezo House with its magnificent and perfectly preserved family shield. The building, with its rectangular ground plan and gable roof, takes its name from the most famous sailor born in Pasaia: Blas de Lezo.

Admiral Patapalo, Blas de Lezo, General of the Armada, was born in Pasaia (Gipuzkoa), in 1689. In 1701 he joined the marine guards and, in 1704, when the Spanish War of Succession had already started, joined the fighting as a crew of the French squadron against the combined British and Dutch troops at a battle in front of Vélez Málaga, in which he had his leg shot off by a cannon ball, demonstrating the tremendous cold blood which he himself so admired.

His intrepidity and serenity during the fighting were rewarded with his promotion to Sub-lieutenant and later Lieutenant. He participated in the defence of Santa Catalina Castle in Toulon, losing his left eye in the doing. He held the command of various convoys aiding Philip V in Barcelona, outwitting British vigilance. During one of these he was surrounded by stronger forces, nevertheless finding a way of escape by burning some of the ships pursuing them and therefore breaking the surrounding circle.

In 1713 he was promoted to Ship's Captain and a year later was assigned to second place in Barcelona where he lost his right arm. At that time, in command of a frigate, he captured eleven British ships, including the emblematic and well-prepared Stanhope. At the end of the War of Succession in 1723 he was put in charge of the Lanfranco flagship and given command of the South Seas Squadron, cleaning the Pacific coasts of pirates, during which he captured twelve Dutch and British ships.

He married in Peru in 1725 and in 1730 returned to Spain where he was promoted to Head of the Mediterranean Naval Squadron. He travelled to the Republic of Genova to demand payment of the 2,000,000 pesos belonging to Spain and retained by the Banco de San Jorge, getting his own back by threatening to bombard the city if they didn't pay up. His energetic attitude had its effect and the Genovese Senate gave in immediately.

In 1732, aboard the Santiago, he set sail for Oran in command of 54 ships and 30,000 men. Oran gave in, but Bay Hassan gathered new troops, assaulting the city and creating a complicated situation. Blas de Lezo came to their rescue with six ships and 5,000 men, successfully chasing off the Algerian pirate after a terrible fight. The pirate's 60-cannon captain ship took shelter in Mostagán Bay, defended by two castles and 4,000 Moors. This didn't put Lezo off and he followed the Algerian ship despite shooting from the forts, setting fire to it and even causing great damage to the castles. He patrolled these seas for months, preventing the Algerians from receiving reinforcements from Constantinople, until an epidemic forced him to return to Cadiz.

In 1734, the King rewarded his services by promoting him to General of the Armada. In 1737 he returned to America with the ships Fuerte and Conquistador and was named Commander General of Cartagena de Indias, a place he defended from the attacks of the English Admiral Sir Edward Vernon, a glorious page in the history of Spanish armed fighting.

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