Elcano, Juan Sebastián de (c. 1476–1526)

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Elcano, Juan Sebastián de (c. 1476–1526)

Juan Sebastián de Elcano (b. ca. 1476, d. 4 August 1526), Spanish navigator. Elcano was born in Guetaria, Vizcaya. He completed the first circumnavigation of the world by sea, at a time of intense rivalry between Spain and Portugal over the spice trade. In 1519 he joined the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan to the Orient via South America; it entered the Pacific in November 1520. When Magellan was killed in the Philippines in 1521, Elcano, one of his captains, assumed leadership of the expedition. The only remaining ship, Victoria, sailed for Spain via the Cape of Good Hope (May 1522). After a voyage fraught with deprivation and sickness, Elcano and the seventeen other surviving men reached Spain in September 1522. As chief navigator and guide of an expedition to claim the Molucca Islands for Spain in June 1525, Elcano died en route in the Pacific.

See alsoExplorers and Exploration: Spanish America; Magellan, Ferdinand.


Carlos Martínez Shaw, ed., El Pacífico Español: De Magallanes a Malaspina (1988).

Mauricio Obregón, La primera vuelta al mundo: Magallanes, Elcano y el libro de la nao Victoria (1984).

Additional Bibliography

Cervera Pery, José, and Rafael Estrada Giménez. Juan Sebastián de Elcano: Embajador y navegante. Barcelona: Lunwerg Editores, 2002.

Lucena Salmoral, Manuel. Juan Sebastián Elcano. Barcelona: Ariel, 2003.

                                        Hilary Burger