Rodríguez Cabrillo, Juan (?–1543)

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Rodríguez Cabrillo, Juan (?–1543)

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo (b. ca. 1498; d. 3 January 1543), first European explorer to reach California. Rodríguez Cabrillo, probably born in Seville, Spain, participated in the conquest of Cuba and served in the conquest of Mexico as a crossbowman and sailor under Hernán Cortés (1485–1547) in 1519. He joined Pedro de Alvarado (ca. 1485–1541) in the conquest of Guatemala in 1523. After settling there as a mine owner and encomendero, he traveled to Seville to marry Beatríz Sánchez de Ortega about 1532. Subsequently, Rodríguez Cabrillo ran a shipyard and led an expedition of three ships to the North Pacific on 27 June 1542. After exploring the Baja California coast, he entered the present bay of San Diego on 28 September 1542 and named it San Miguel. He claimed the area for Spain and later explored the coastal areas of California. He died on one of the Santa Barbara Channel Islands as a result of complications from a broken bone.

See alsoCalifornia; Cortés, Hernán.


The most complete biographical study is Harry Kelsey, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo (1986). For arguments claiming Portugal as Cabrillo's nationality, see Celestino Soares, California and the Portuguese (1939); João Antonio de Mascarenhas Logoa, João Rodrigues Cabrilho, achegas para a sua biografia (1958).

Additional Bibliography

Mattox, Jake. Explorers of the New World. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 2004.

Nauman, James D. An Account of the Voyage of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. San Diego, CA: Cabrillo National Monument Foundation, 1999.

                            Iris H. W. Engstrand

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Rodríguez Cabrillo, Juan (?–1543)

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Rodríguez Cabrillo, Juan (?–1543)