Albuquerqueños love their royalty, there is no doubt about it. The city was named for the 8th Duke De Alburquerque of Spain.
In 1660, he financed an expedition up the Rio Grande in search of the 19 lost cities of brass (the seven cities of gold, nine cities of silver, and thirteen cities of copper having turned out to be total busts.) As the legend goes, the expedition was seeming fruitless when, one day, coming up a draw in La Cañada, the explorers, Captain Guillermo Cuatro y Griegos and Don De Tredonmé encountered a glowing white oak. Albuquerque. The name comes from the Latin: Albumen = white and Quercus = oak. This is where the original Spanish city got its name. The pair took it as a sign and immediately wrote to the Duke. (Years later, the surviving members of the team returned to spot of their vision. What they had originally taken to be a white oak, was in fact a sickly cottonwood covered with pigeon droppings.) Recently uncovered writings by Tredonmé indicate that this tale was a fabrication. In actuality, it resulted from the fact that due to an incident with close-proximity cannon fire, the two were more than a little deaf. Tredonmé writes: “Captain Griegos and I were wandering up a ditch and were mitad-en-el-bolso
from a cask of brandy we had tapped into. My companion was attempting to regale me with stories of his days at court with the Duke. Of course, due to our hearing impairment we could barely understand a word each other said.
“One day when we had ridden into Albu –” he began.
“Que?” I said, not hearing him.
“Que?” he said.
We were laughing quite hysterically -- the... how do you say, "snot?" Snot was coming out of our noses, and decided that we would call this new place, Albuqueque, meaning White What What."
In the year 1798, the Duke’s heirs were granted the right to rule the property in perpetuity. In theory, the title transferred to the United States when it took over, but, in 1957, the world court overturned previous decisions and returned rights to rule and collect taxes to the 23rd Duke, His Grace, Juan Luis Carlos Adelberto “Chato” Limon y Mas Cerveza de Alburquerque. Naturally this went over like a lead balloon with the general public and so a “bloodless coup” was staged. A puppet ruler was put in place – a regent given the title of "Mayor."
Although mayoral elections are held on occasion – no specific time is set, they just happen when the incumbent falls out of favor with the Duke. Elections are based on a rigorous test involving running, jumping, shooting, feats of strength and prestidigitation. The winner then undergoes a painful and humiliating initiation ceremony that makes the Masons look like a pack of college frat boys. “Quiet Dave” Silva, a mayor in the 1960s, got his name after his tongue was cut out for revealing secrets of the brotherhood.
Contrary to popular belief, Albuquerque’s nickname, “Duke City” comes from its former AAA baseball club which in turn was named after a dog owned by former Mayor Enrique “Ricky” Saavedra, who named the dog after the late John Wayne. Wayne – whose Christian name was Marion – received the "Duke" sobriquet while working on the 1947 John Ford-directed motion picture of the life of the 19th Duke de Alburquerque, "I Knew I Should Have Taken a Left Turn.".