Pinzón, Vicente Yáñez (mid-1400s–c. 1514)

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Pinzón, Vicente Yáñez (mid-1400s–c. 1514)

Vicente Yáñez Pinzón (b. mid-1400s; d. ca. August-September 1514), captain of the Niña on the first Columbus expedition, "discoverer" of the Amazon River. A navigator and shipper of the Andalusian port of Palos, Pinzón, along with his brother Martín Alonso Pinzón, conducted trade from the mid-1470s with ports in the central Mediterranean, Canaries, and probably Guinea. He commanded the Niña during the first voyage to America in 1492, and after the loss of the Santa María, he acted as pilot, returning to Spain with Christopher Columbus. Conflict between Columbus and Pinzón's brother Martín Alonso led to a break in their relations. The untimely death of Martín Alonso probably caused Pinzón to travel separately to Barcelona, after Columbus, to report to the Catholic monarchs on the fleet's discoveries.

In 1499 Pinzón received an agreement (6 June) to explore the coast of South America. He left Seville in mid-November, sailing to the Canaries, then to the Cape Verde Islands. Leaving the island of Santiago on 1 January, he reached the Brazilian coast on 26 January 1500. He named the Cape Santa María de la Consolación, and although exact identification is disputed, it was south of the Amazon River. From here, Pinzón explored northerly, tending west, from the mouths of the Amazon to what is now Venezuela, around the Gulf of Paria, where his small fleet united with Diego de Lepe. He returned via Hispaniola, exploring islands off the north coast before reaching Spain on 30 September 1500. He reported to the monarchs in Granada and in September 1501 was granted governorship of the lands he had discovered, but he was unable to conduct a new expedition that year.

In 1504 Pinzón returned to the Brazilian coast, sailing from roughly Recife to the Gulf of Paria, returning this time via Puerto Rico. In 1505 he attended the famous meeting in Toro with other experienced pilots-cosmographers and was authorized to head an expedition to the Spice Islands (not undertaken). He was named corregidor as well as alcaide of a fortress of San Juan (Puerto Rico) that was to be constructed. In 1508 he was in service in the Casa de Contratación in Seville and was named a "pilot," along with Juan de la Cosa and Díaz De Solís. In 1508–1509 he sailed with Díaz de Solís from Costa Rica past the Yucatán, and perhaps to the middle Gulf Coast of Mexico. Some dispute the exact route of this venture, while others reject the authenticity of the excursion altogether. Pinzón was ill in Seville in March 1514 and died later that year.

See alsoPinzón, Martín Alonso .


Juan Manzano Manzano, Los Pinzones y el descubrimiento de América (1988).

Additional Bibliography

Espínola, Rodolfo. Vicente Pinzón e a descoberta do Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, RJ: Topbooks, 2001.

Frye, John. Los Otros: Columbus and the Three Who Made His Enterprise of the Indies Succeed. Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen Press, 1992.

Szaszdi Nagy, Adam. Los guías de Guanahaní y la llegada de Pinzón a Puerto Rico. Valladolid, España: Casa Museo de Colón: Seminario Americanista de la Universidad de Valladolid, 1995.

Washington, Irving. Voyages and Discoveries of the Dompanions of Columbus. Escondido, CA: Book Tree, 2000, 1835.

                                Noble David Cook