JUAN PONCE DE LEóN (Spanish pronunciation: ; 1474 – July 1521)
was a Spanish explorer and conquistador . He became the first Governor
Ponce de León returned to southwest Florida in 1521 to lead the
first large-scale attempt to establish a Spanish colony in what is now
the continental United States. However, the native
fiercely resisted the incursion, and de León was seriously wounded in
a skirmish. The colonization attempt was abandoned, and its leader
died from his wounds soon after returning to Cuba. He was interred in
* 5 First voyage to Florida
* 5.1 Fountain of Youth
* 6 Between voyages * 7 Last voyage to Florida * 8 See also * 9 Bibliography * 10 References * 11 External links
Juan Ponce de León
The identity of his parents is still unknown, but he appears to have been a member of a distinguished and influential noble family. His relatives included Rodrigo Ponce de León, Marquis of Cádiz , a celebrated figure in the Moorish wars.
Ponce de León was related to another notable family, the Núñez de Guzmáns, and as a young man he served as squire to Pedro Núñez de Guzmán, Knight Commander of the Order of Calatrava . A contemporary chronicler, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés , states that Ponce de León gained his experience as a soldier fighting in the Spanish campaigns that defeated the Moors in Granada and completed the re-conquest of Spain in 1492.
ARRIVAL IN THE NEW WORLD
Once the war against the
Emirate of Granada
The fleet reached the Caribbean in November 1493. They visited
several islands before arriving at their primary destination in
Hispaniola . In particular they anchored on the coast of a large
island the natives called Borinquen but would eventually become known
In 1502 the newly appointed governor,
Nicolás de Ovando , arrived in
Hispaniola . The Spanish Crown expected Ovando to bring order to a
colony in disarray. Ovando interpreted this as authorizing
subjugation of the native
Ponce de León prospered in this new role. He found a ready market
for his farm produce and livestock at nearby
Boca de Yuma where
Spanish ships stocked supplies before the long voyage back to Spain.
In 1505 Ovando authorized Ponce de León to establish a new town in
Higüey, which he named Salvaleón . In 1508 King Ferdinand (Queen
Isabella having opposed the exploitation of natives but dying in 1504)
authorized Ponce de León to conquer the remaining
Around this time, Ponce de León married Leonora, an innkeeper's daughter. They had three daughters (Juana, Isabel and Maria) and one son (Luis). The large stone house Ponce de León ordered built for his growing family still stands today near the city of Salvaleón de Higüey.
Ruins of Juan Ponce de León's residence at Caparra
As provincial governor, Ponce de León had occasion to meet with the
His first reconnaissance of the island is usually dated to 1508 but there is evidence that he had made a previous exploration as early as 1506. This earlier trip was done quietly because the Spanish crown had commissioned Vicente Yáñez Pinzón to settle the island in 1505. Pinzón did not fulfill his commission and it expired in 1507, leaving the way clear for Ponce de León.
His earlier exploration had confirmed the presence of gold and gave him a good understanding of the geography of the island. In 1508, Ferdinand II of Aragon gave permission to Ponce de León for the first official expedition to the island, which the Spanish then called San Juan Bautista. This expedition, consisting of about 50 men in one ship, left Hispaniola on July 12, 1508 and eventually anchored in San Juan Bay , near today's city of San Juan. Ponce de León searched inland until he found a suitable site about two miles from the bay. Here he erected a storehouse and a fortified house, creating the first settlement in Puerto Rico, Caparra . Although a few crops were planted, they spent most of their time and energy searching for gold . By early 1509 Ponce de León decided to return to Hispaniola. His expedition had collected a good quantity of the precious metal but was running low on food and supplies.
The expedition was deemed a great success and Ovando appointed Ponce de León governor of San Juan Bautista. This appointment was later confirmed by Ferdinand II on August 14, 1509. He was instructed to extend the settlement of the island and continue mining for gold. The new governor returned to the island as instructed, bringing with him his wife and children.
Back on his island, Ponce de León parceled out the native Taínos
amongst himself and other settlers using a system of forced labor
known as encomienda . The Indians were put to work growing food crops
and mining for gold. Many of the
Even as Ponce de León was settling the island of San Juan,
significant changes were taking place in the politics and government
Spanish West Indies
The political struggle between Colón and Ponce de León continued in this manner for the next few years. Ponce de León had influential supporters in Spain and Ferdinand regarded him as a loyal servant. However, Colón's position as Viceroy made him a powerful opponent and eventually it became clear that Ponce de León's position on San Juan was not tenable. Finally, on November 28, 1511, Ceron returned from Spain and was officially re-instated as governor.
FIRST VOYAGE TO FLORIDA
Spanish colonization of the Americas
* Inter caetera * Pacific Northwest * California
* Inca Empire
* Chibcha * Muisca
* Florida * Texas * Aztec Empire
* Chiapas * Guatemala * Petén * Yucatán
* El Salvador * Honduras * Nicaragua
Alonso de Ojeda
Diego de Almagro
* v * t * e
Rumors of undiscovered islands to the northwest of Hispaniola had reached Spain by 1511, and Ferdinand was interested in forestalling further exploration and discovery by Colón. In an effort to reward Ponce de León for his services, Ferdinand urged him to seek these new lands outside the authority of Colón. Ponce de León readily agreed to a new venture, and in February 1512 a royal contract was dispatched outlining his rights and authorities to search for "the Islands of Benimy".
The contract stipulated that Ponce de León held exclusive rights to the discovery of Benimy and neighboring islands for the next three years. He would be governor for life of any lands he discovered, but he was expected to finance for himself all costs of exploration and settlement. In addition, the contract gave specific instructions for the distribution of gold, Native Americans, and other profits extracted from the new lands. Notably, there was no mention of a rejuvenating fountain.
Ponce de León equipped three ships with at least 200 men at his own
expense and set out from
The three ships in this small fleet were the Santiago, the San
Cristobal and the Santa Maria de la Consolacion. Anton de Alaminos was
their chief pilot. He was already an experienced sailor, and would
become one of the most respected pilots in the region. After leaving
Puerto Rico, they sailed northwest along the great chain of Bahama
Islands, known then as the Lucayos. On March 27,
For the next several days the fleet crossed open water until April 2,
1513 , when they sighted land which Ponce de León believed was
another island. He named it La Florida in recognition of the verdant
landscape and because it was the
After remaining in the area of their first landing for about five days, the ships turned south for further exploration of the coast. On April 8 they encountered a current so strong that it pushed them backwards and forced them to seek anchorage. The tiniest ship, the San Cristobal, was carried out of sight and lost for two days. This was the first encounter with the Gulf Stream where it reaches maximum force between the Florida coast and the Bahamas. Because of the powerful boost provided by the current, it would soon become the primary route for eastbound ships leaving the Spanish Indies bound for Europe.
They continued down the coast hugging the shore to avoid the strong
head current. By May 4 the fleet reached and named
Again, the exact site of their landfall is controversial. The
vicinity of Charlotte Harbor is the most commonly identified spot,
while some assert a landing further north at
Tampa Bay or even
Pensacola . Other historians have argued the distances were too great
to cover in the available time and the more likely location was Cape
On June 14 they set sail again looking for a chain of islands in the
west that had been described by their captives. They reached the Dry
Tortugas on June 21. There they captured giant sea turtles ,
Caribbean monk seals , and thousands of seabirds . From these islands
they sailed southwest in an apparent attempt to circle around
Once they regained their bearings, the fleet retraced their route
east along the
From here the little fleet disbanded. Ponce de León tasked the Santa
Maria with further exploration while he returned home with the rest of
crew. Ponce de León reached
Although Ponce de León is widely credited with the discovery of
Florida, he almost certainly was not the first European to reach the
peninsula. Spanish slave expeditions had been regularly raiding the
Bahamas since 1494 and there is some evidence that one or more of
these slavers made it as far as the shores of Florida. Another piece
of evidence that others came before Ponce de León is the Cantino Map
from 1502, which shows a peninsula near
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
Main article: Fountain of Youth Bahamian love vine (Cassytha filiformis ), Bahamas
According to a popular legend, Ponce de León discovered Florida
while searching for the Fountain of Youth. Though stories of
vitality-restoring waters were known on both sides of the Atlantic
long before Ponce de León, the story of his searching for them was
not attached to him until after his death. In his Historia general y
natural de las Indias of 1535, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés
wrote that Ponce de León was looking for the waters of
Bimini to cure
his aging. A similar account appears in Francisco López de Gómara
's Historia general de las Indias of 1551. Then in 1575, Hernando de
Escalante Fontaneda , a shipwreck survivor who had lived with the
Native Americans of Florida for 17 years, published his memoir in
which he locates the waters in Florida, and says that Ponce de León
was supposed to have looked for them there. Though Fontaneda doubted
that Ponce de León had really gone to Florida looking for the waters,
the account was included in the Historia general de los hechos de los
Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas
There is a possibility that the
Fountain of Youth was an allegory for
the Bahamian love vine , which locals brew today as an aphrodisiac.
Ponce de León could have been seeking it as a potential
Upon his return to Puerto Rico, Ponce de León found the island in
turmoil. A party of Caribs from a neighboring island had attacked the
settlement of Caparra , killed several
Ponce de León decided he should return to Spain and personally
report the results of his recent expedition. He left
During his stay in Spain, a new contract was drawn up for Ponce de
León confirming his rights to settle and govern
Bimini and Florida,
which was then presumed to be an island. In addition to the usual
directions for sharing gold and other valuables with the king, the
contract was one of the first to stipulate that the
to be read to the inhabitants of the islands prior to their conquest.
Ponce de León was also ordered to organize an armada for the purpose
of attacking and subduing the Caribs, who continued to attack Spanish
settlements in the Caribbean. Tomb of Ponce de León in
Cathedral of San Juan Bautista in San Juan,
Three ships were purchased for his armada and after repairs and
provisioning Ponce de León left Spain on May 14, 1515 with his little
fleet. The record of his activities against the Caribs is vague. There
was one engagement in
Meanwhile, there had been at least two unauthorized voyages to "his" Florida both ending in repulsion by the native Calusa Tequesta warriors. Ponce de León realized he had to act soon if he was to maintain his claim.
LAST VOYAGE TO FLORIDA
In early 1521, Ponce de León organized a colonizing expedition
consisting of some 200 men, including priests, farmers and artisans,
50 horses and other domestic animals, and farming implements carried
on two ships. The expedition landed somewhere on the coast of
southwest Florida , likely in the vicinity of Charlotte Harbor or the
Juan Ponce de León II
Library resources about JUAN PONCE DE LEóN -------------------------
* Resources in your library * Resources in other libraries
* Allen, John Logan (1997). A New World Disclosed. University of
* Arnade, Charles W. (1967). "Who Was Juan Ponce de León?"
Tequesta, The Journal of the Historical Association of Southern
Florida. XXVII, 29-58.
* Davis, T. Frederick. (1935) "History of Juan Ponce de León's
Voyages to Florida: Source Records." Florida Historical Society
* Fuson, Robert H. (2000).
Juan Ponce de León
* ^ Robert Greenberger (3 December 2005). Juan Ponce de León: The
Exploration of Florida and the Search for the Fountain of Youth. The
Rosen Publishing Group. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-8239-3627-4 .
* ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (1974). The European Discovery of
America: the Southern voyages A.D. 1492-1616. Oxford University Press.
pp. 502, 515.
* ^ Greenspan, Jesse (2 April 2013). "The Myth of Ponce de León
and the Fountain of Youth". History. A&E Television Networks, LLC.
Retrieved 10 November 2015.
* ^ Morison 1974, p. 502, 529.
* ^ Torres Sevilla-Quiñones de León 1999 , p. 188.
* ^ A B Torres Sevilla-Quiñones de León 1999 , p. 191.
* ^ Arnade, p. 35-44
* ^ A B Van Middeldyk, p. 11
* ^ Morison 1974, p. 502
* ^ A B L. Kessel, John (2003). Spain in the Southwest: A Narrative
History of Colonial New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and California.
University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-1928874201 .
* ^ Morison 1974, p. 100
* ^ Van Middeldyk, pp. 12-15
* ^ Morison 1974, pp. 112–115.
* ^ Fuson, p. 56-57.
* ^ A B C D E F G H David Marley (February 2008). Wars of the
Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere,
1492 to the present. ABC-CLIO. pp. 9–11. ISBN 978-1-59884-100-8 .
* ^ Fuson, p. 63-65.
* ^ Rouse, Irving. The Tainos- Rise and Decline of the People Who
Greeted Columbus pg. 155. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-05181-6 .
* ^ Fuson, p. 66-67.
* ^ Van Middeldyk, p. 17-19.
* ^ Fuson, p. 72-75
* ^ Marley 2008, pp. 12-13
* ^ Lawson, p. 3.
* ^ Van Middeldyk, p. 27-29
* ^ Van Middeldyk, p. 36-41
* ^ Floyd, Troy (1973). The Columbus Dynasty in the Caribbean,
1492-1526. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. p. 135.
* ^ Lawson, p. 4
* ^ Kessel 2003, p. 10
* ^ A B Van Middeldyk, p. 18
* ^ Lawson, p. 5-7
* ^ Fuson, p. 95.
* ^ Fuson, p. 88-91.
* ^ Weddle, p. 40.
* ^ See contract translated by Fuson, p. 92-95 or Lawson, p. 84-88.
* ^ Fuson, p. 99-103 and Weddle, p. 51.
* ^ See Fuson, p. 103-115 for complete Herrera account.
* ^ A B Turner 2012, p. 5
* ^ Weddle, p. 40-41.
* ^ A B Morison 1974, p. 507
* ^ Lawson, p. 29-32
* ^ Peck, p. 39.
* ^ Moody, Norman (April 21, 2011). "Naming barrier island would
honor state find".
* "Ponce de León, Juan". Appletons\' Cyclopædia of American Biography . 1900. * Yale University Genocide Studies on Puerto Rico * Turner, Samuel P. (2012) "The Caribbean World of