Juan Fernández (c. 1536 – c. 1604) was a Spanish explorer and navigator in the Pacific regions of the Viceroyalty of Peru and Captaincy General of Chile west of colonial South America. He is best known for the discovery of a fast maritime route from to Callao (Peru) Valparaíso (Chile) as well as for the discovery of the Juan Fernández Islands off the coast of Chile.
In 1574 he discovered an alternative maritime route between Callao and Valparaíso, much faster than the old route which bordered the coastline. By taking a detour west from the coast, he managed to avoid the northernly Humboldt Current which used to slow down ships sailing south along the coast. In doing so, he discovered the Juan Fernández Islands archipelago, located west of present-day Valparaíso in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. He also discovered the Pacific islands of San Félix and San Ambrosio in 1574. The speed with which this discovery allowed him to complete the voyage led to him being brought in front of the Inquisition in Peru, and was the reason he became known as el brujo del Pacífico or "the witch of the Pacific".
Early historians such as Alexander Dalrymple and James Burney claim that Juan Fernández was the first European to reach New Zealand. In 1575 the governor of Cuyo, Juan Jufré, organized an expedition to Terra Australis under the command of Juan Fernandez. The expedition was authorized by the governor of Chile but not the Viceroy of Peru. As a result, Jufré changed the official itinerary and pretended his expedition would only sail to the islands discovered by Fernández in 1574. In fact, the real destination of the expedition was still Terra Australis. Soon Juan Fernandez set sail from Valparaíso. After heading west for one month along the 40th parallel south, in the spring of 1576 they arrived in an island described as "mountainous, fertile, with strong-flowing rivers, inhabited by white peoples, and with all the fruits necessary to live".
Later, the expedition set sail back for Chile and Juan Fernández wished to convey his discovery to government officials. However, Juan Jufré refused. He requested that the discovery be kept a secret as the expedition had not been authorized by the Viceroy of Peru. Later, after Jufré's death in 1578, Fernández finally shared the discovery with the authorities and tried to convince them of the need to return to the islands and establish a colony. The idea was scrapped due to lack of interest. A record exists in the Spanish Admiralty libraries which describes this discovery. It was reviewed in the 19th century by the Chilean biographer José Toribio Medina who is one of the main sources for the claim in South American literature.
Mainstream historians do not however accept these claims. University of Auckland history professor James Belich said that similar claims that the French and Chinese discovered New Zealand prior to Abel Tasman in 1642 have also been put forward. "I think there are a number of theories of this kind and all are highly unlikely.".New Zealand film maker Winston Cowie's books Nueva Zelanda, un puzzle histórico: tras la pista de los conquistadores españoles (2016) and Conquistador Puzzle Trail (2015), published with the support of the Embassy of Spain to New Zealand, propose that the Ruamahnga skull and oral tradition may support the theory, with more evidence required to take it from possibility to probability.
The Juan Fernández Islands are a sparsely inhabited island group in the South Pacific Ocean reliant on tourism and fishing. Situated 670 km off the coast of Chile, they are composed of three main volcanic islands: Robinson Crusoe, Alejandro Selkirk and Santa Clara. The group is considered part of Insular Chile.
Francisco de Orellana Bejarano Pizarro y Torres de Altamirano was a Spanish explorer and conquistador. He completed the first known navigation of the entire length of the Amazon River, which initially was named "Rio de Orellana." He also founded the city of Guayaquil in what is now Ecuador.
The Strait of Magellan, also called the Straits of Magellan, is a navigable sea route in southern Chile separating mainland South America to the north and Tierra del Fuego to the south. The strait is considered the most important natural passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It has been traversed by explorers and others throughout modern history.
José Toribio Medina Zavala was a Chilean bibliographer, prolific writer, and historian. He is renowned for his study of colonial literature in Chile, printing in Spanish America and large bibliographies such as the Biblioteca Hispano-Americana.
The Battle of Callao occurred on May 2, 1866 between a Spanish fleet under the command of Admiral Casto Méndez Núñez and the fortified battery emplacements of the Peruvian port city of Callao during the Chincha Islands War. The Spanish fleet bombarded the port of Callao, and eventually withdrew without any notable damage to the city structures, according to the Peruvian and American sources; or after having silenced almost all the guns of the coastal defenses, according to the Spanish accounts and French observers. This proved to be the final battle of the war between Spanish and Peruvian forces.
The Chincha Islands War, also known as Spanish–South American War, was a series of coastal and naval battles between Spain and its former colonies of Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia from 1865 to 1866. The conflict began with Spain's seizure of the guano-rich Chincha Islands in one of a series of attempts by Spain, under Isabella II, to reassert its influence over its former South American colonies. The war saw the use of ironclads, including the Spanish ship Numancia, the first ironclad to circumnavigate the world.
Manuel Quimper Benítez del Pino was a Spanish Peruvian explorer, cartographer, naval officer, and colonial official. He participated in charting the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Sandwich Islands in the late 18th century. He was later appointed a colonial governor in his native Peru at the beginning of the fight for independence there. He retired to Spain, but was able to return to Peru where he served as a naval officer in the new republic and pursued a literary career, publishing over 20 books about his experiences before his death there in Lima.
José de Bustamante y Guerra, sometimes referred to simply as Bustamante, was a Spanish naval officer, explorer, and politician.
The Battle of Mataquito was fought in the Arauco War on April 30, 1557, between the Spanish forces of the governor, Francisco de Villagra, and Mapuche headed by their toqui Lautaro. It was a dawn surprise attack on Lautaro's fortified camp between a wooded mountain and the shore of the Mataquito River. The battle is notable for ending Mapuche pretensions to expulse the Spanish from Santiago, while also avenging the death of former governor Pedro de Valdivia who had been killed by Lautaro's warriors four years earlier.
Events from the year 1814 in Chile
Juan Jufré de Loayza y Montesa (1516–1578) was a Spanish conquistador who participated in the 1541 expedition of Pedro de Valdivia to Chile. He was the first alcalde of Santiago, Chile and held the position of governor of the Argentine province of Cuyo. He founded the city of San Juan de la Frontera and re-founded the city of Mendoza.
Francisco José de Ovando y Solís Rol de La Cerda, 1st Marquis of Brindisi was a Spanish soldier who served as governor of Chile.
The maritime history of Chile begins with the independence of Chile, but traces it origin in the colonial era and has ultimately origin in the seafaring tradition of the Iberian Peninsula, Europe and the Mediterranean as well as from indigenous peoples of Chile.
On 6 March 1866, during the Chincha Islands War, the Spanish steam frigate Blancacaptured the Chilean sidewheel steamer Paquete de Maule in the Gulf of Arauco.
Águila was the first naval vessel of the Chilean Navy. She was later renamed Pueyrredón.
The corvette Abtao was a wooden ship built in Scotland during 1864 of 1.600 tons and 800 IHP. She fought in the War of the Pacific and was in service for the Chilean Navy until 1922.
The First Chilean Navy Squadron was the heterogeneous naval force that temporarily terminated Spanish colonial rule in the Pacific and protagonized the most important naval actions of in the Latin American wars of independence. The Chilean revolutionary government organized the squadron in order to carry the war to the Viceroyalty of Perú, then the center of Spanish power in South America, and thus secure the independence of Chile and Argentina.
Aquiles was a brigantine, originally Spanish, that later served in the Chilean Navy. It was driven ashore and wrecked at Callao, Peru on 24 July 1839.
At the end of the Chilean Civil War of 1829–1830 the government decided to buy the brigantine-schooner Flora to confront a new attack of insurgents. She was renamed Colo Colo.
In Colonial times the Spanish Empire diverted significant resources to fortify the Chilean coast as consequence of Dutch and English raids. During the 16th century the Spanish strategy was to complement the fortification work in its Caribbean ports with forts in the Strait of Magellan. As attempts at settling and fortifying the Strait of Magellan were abandoned the Spanish began to fortify the Captaincy General of Chile and other parts of the west coast of the Americas. The coastal fortifications and defense system was at its peak in the mid-18th century.