Fernández, Juan (c. 1530–1599)

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Fernández, Juan (c. 1530–1599)

Juan Fernández (b. ca. 1530; d. 1599), Spanish navigator and discoverer of the Juan Fernández Islands. Actively engaged in navigation between Peru and Chile by 1550, Fernández theorized that Chile could be reached much more quickly by sailing further offshore, west of the Humboldt Current. Testing this theory, he discovered the islands that later bore his name, about 400 miles west of Valparaíso, Chile, on 22 November 1574. He reached Chile only thirty days after leaving Callao, Peru, a voyage that formerly took three months or more. Although Magellan may have seen these islands earlier, Fernández's sighting gave them navigational significance and greatly improved communications between Lima and Chile. His efforts to colonize the islands failed, but his leadership in the Peru-Chile trade earned him recognition in 1589 as "chief pilot of the South Sea." Minor difficulties with the Inquisition earned him the nickname "El Brujo" (the sorcerer). In 1592 he retired to his Chilean estate of Rautén, where he lived until his death seven years later.

See alsoExplorers and Exploration: Spanish America .


Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, Juan Fernández, historia verdadera de la isla de Robinson Crusoe (1883), esp. pp. 7-94.

José Toribio Medina, El piloto Juan Fernández, descubridor de las islas que llevan su nombre, y Juan Jufré, armador de la expedición que hizo en busca de otras en el Mar del Sur (1918; 2d ed. 1974).

Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr., Robinson Crusoe's Island: A History of the Juan Fernández Islands (1969), esp. pp. 3-14.

Additional Bibliography

Sánchez-Ostiz, Miguel. La isla de Juan Fernández: Viaje a la isla de Robinson Crusoe. Barcelona: Ediciones B, 2005.

                                   Ralph lee Woodward Jr.

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Fernández, Juan (c. 1530–1599)

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Fernández, Juan (c. 1530–1599)