Solís, Juan Díaz de (c. 1400–1516)

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Solís, Juan Díaz de (c. 1400–1516)

Juan Díaz de Solís (b. mid-1400s; d. 1516), navigator who explored the Río de la Plata estuary. The birthplace of Díaz is unclear. Some think it was Lebrija (Seville); others argue that his family migrated from Asturias to Portugal, where he was born. He voyaged to India for Portugal several times, served French corsairs, then moved to Spain in late 1505. He met Juan de la Cosa and Amerigo Vespucci at a conference summoned by King Ferdinand in Burgos in 1508, and was commissioned on 23 March 1508 to search for a passage to the Orient along with Vicente Yáñez Pinzón. The exact itinerary is debated; it seems there was a coastal reconnaissance from central America north to the Yucatán, then Mexico's central Gulf coast.

Díaz de Solís returned to Spain and was serving in the Casa de Contratación in Seville in the late summer of 1509. When Amerigo Vespucci died (22 February 1512), Díaz de Solís was named piloto mayor (chief pilot) and commissioned to head two voyages, both of which came to naught. He was encharged with another expedition, which left Sanlúcar on 8 October 1515. This group explored the Río de la Plata estuary in early 1516. When Solís and his party disembarked to take possession of the left bank of the estuary, at a place before the confluence of the Uruguay and Paraná rivers, they were attacked. Indians wielding bows and arrows killed Solís and several companions.

See alsoExplorers and Exploration: Spanish America; Vespucci, Amerigo.


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

                                   Noble David Cook