Juan Fernández (explorer)

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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 Callao (Peru) to Valparaíso (Chile), as well as for the discovery of the Juan Fernández Islands off the coast of Chile.

Viceroyalty of Peru Spanish Imperial colony

The Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish imperial provincial administrative district, created in 1542, that originally contained modern-day Peru and most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima. The Viceroyalty of Peru was one of the two Spanish Viceroyalties in the Americas from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

Captaincy General of Chile Spanish 1541-1818 possession in South America

The General Captaincy of Chile or Gobernación de Chile, was a territory of the Spanish Empire, from 1541 to 1818. It comprised most of modern-day Chile and southern parts of Argentina. Its capital was Santiago de Chile. In 1818 it declared itself independent, becoming the Republic of Chile. It had a number of Spanish governors over its long history and several kings.

Callao City in Peru

Callao is a seaside city on the Pacific Ocean in the Lima metropolitan area. Callao is Peru's chief seaport and home to its main airport, Jorge Chávez International Airport. Callao municipality consists of the whole Callao Region, which is also coterminous with the Province of Callao. Founded in 1537 by the Spanish, the city has a long naval history as one of the main ports in Latin America and the Pacific, as it was one of vital Spanish towns during the colonial era. Central Callao is about 15 km (9.3 mi) west of the Historic Centre of Lima.


Discoveries and theories

Juan Fernández Islands

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.

Valparaíso Place in Chile

Valparaíso is a major city, seaport, and educational centre in the commune of Valparaíso, Chile. "Greater Valparaíso" is the third largest metropolitan area in the country. Valparaíso is located about 120 kilometres (75 mi) northwest of Santiago by road and is one of the South Pacific's most important seaports. Valparaíso is the capital of Chile's second most populated administrative region and has been the headquarters for the Chilean National Congress since 1990. Valparaíso has seven universities.

Humboldt Current A cold, low-salinity eastern boundary current that flows north along the western coast of South America from southern Chile to northern Peru

The Humboldt Current, also called the Peru Current, is a cold, low-salinity ocean current that flows north along the western coast of South America. It is an eastern boundary current flowing in the direction of the equator, and extends 500–1,000 km (310–620 mi) offshore. The Humboldt Current is named after the Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. In 1846, von Humboldt reported measurements of the cold-water current in his book Cosmos.

Juan Fernández Islands Special Territory and Commune in Valparaíso, Chile

The Juan Fernández Islands are a sparsely inhabited island group reliant on tourism and fishing in the South Pacific Ocean. 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.

New Zealand

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". [1]

Alexander Dalrymple British geographer

Alexander Dalrymple FRS was a Scottish geographer and the first Hydrographer of the British Admiralty. He was the main proponent of the theory that there existed a vast undiscovered continent in the South Pacific, Terra Australis Incognita. He produced thousands of nautical charts, mapping a remarkable number of seas and oceans for the first time, and contributing significantly to the safety of shipping. His theories prompted a number of expeditions in search of this mythical land, until James Cook's second journey (1772–1775) led to the conclusion that, if it did exist, it was further south than the 65° line of latitude South.

James Burney was an English rear-admiral, who accompanied Captain Cook on his last two voyages. He later wrote two books on naval voyages and a third on the game of whist.

Cuyo (Argentina) region in Argentina

Cuyo is the name given to the wine-producing, mountainous area of central-west Argentina. Historically it comprised the provinces of San Juan, San Luis and Mendoza. The modern term New Cuyo indicates both Cuyo proper and the province of La Rioja. New Cuyo is a political and economic macroregion, but culturally La Rioja is part of the North-West rather than of Cuyo.

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. [2]

José Toribio Medina Chilean writer and historian

José Toribio Medina Zavala was a Chilean bibliographer, prolific writer, and historian.

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.". [3]

University of Auckland University in New Zealand

The University of Auckland is the largest university in New Zealand, located in the country's largest city, Auckland. It is the highest-ranked university in the country, being ranked 85th worldwide in the 2018/19 QS World University Rankings. Established in 1883 as a constituent college of the University of New Zealand, the university is made up of eight faculties; these are spread over six campuses. It has more than 40,000 students, and more than 30,000 "equivalent full-time" students.

James Belich (historian) New Zealand historian

James Christopher Belich, ONZM, is a New Zealand historian, known for his work on the New Zealand Wars and on New Zealand history more generally. One of his major works on the 19th-century clash between Māori and Pākehā, the revisionist study The New Zealand Wars (1986), was also published in an American edition and adapted into a television series and DVD.

Abel Tasman Dutch seafarer, explorer and merchant

Abel Janszoon Tasman was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). He was the first known European explorer to reach the islands of Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand, and to sight the Fiji islands.

In the opinion of another University of Auckland professor, Phyllis Herda, despite the short duration of the trip between Chile and New Zealand (one month, according to Spanish records) Juan Fernández was known to be a brilliant navigator. In 1574 he discovered the much faster route between Peru and Chile and was since known as the brujo del Pacífico or "wizard of the Pacific". [4]

See also

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  1. Esparza, Jose Javier (2008). España Epica. Editorial Altera 2005. ISBN   9788496840393.
  2. José Toribio Medina, El Piloto Juan Fernández, Santiago de Chile, 1918, reprinted by Gabriela Mistral, 1974, pp. 136, 246; Isidoro Vázquez de Acuña, "El general Juan Jufré pionero de la navegación chilena hacia el otro lado de la Cuenca del Pacífico (1575)", Derroteros de la Mar del Sur, año 12, num.12, 2005, at: derroteros.perucultural.org.pe/art12k.htm
  3. Squires, Nick (2007-03-21). "Portuguese visited New Zealand '250 years before Cook'". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2007-03-22.