Juan de la Cosa

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Juan de la Cosa
Juan-de-la-cosa.jpg
BornBetween 1450 and 1460
Died(1510-02-28)28 February 1510 [1]
Residence El Puerto de Santa María
Nationality Castilian
Other namesJuan the Biscayne
Occupation Navigator and cartographer
Notable work
Map of Juan de la Cosa

Juan de la Cosa (c. 1450 – 28 February 1510) was a Castilian navigator and cartographer, known for designing the earliest European world map that incorporated the territories of the Americas that were discovered in the 15th century. De la Cosa played an important role in the first and second voyage of Christopher Columbus to the West Indies, since he was the owner and captain of the Santa María .

Crown of Castile Former country in the Iberian Peninsula

The Crown of Castile was a medieval state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and, some decades later, the parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then Castilian king, Ferdinand III, to the vacant Leonese throne. It continued to exist as a separate entity after the personal union in 1469 of the crowns of Castile and Aragon with the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs up to the promulgation of the Nueva Planta decrees by Philip V in 1715.

A navigator is the person on board a ship or aircraft responsible for its navigation. The navigator's primary responsibility is to be aware of ship or aircraft position at all times. Responsibilities include planning the journey, advising the ship's captain or aircraft commander of estimated timing to destinations while en route, and ensuring hazards are avoided. The navigator is in charge of maintaining the aircraft or ship's nautical charts, nautical publications, and navigational equipment, and he/she generally has responsibility for meteorological equipment and communications. With the advent of GPS, the effort required to accurately determine one's position has decreased by orders of magnitude, so the entire field has experienced a revolutionary transition since the 1990s with traditional navigation tasks being used less frequently.

Map of Juan de la Cosa

The map or chart of Juan de la Cosa is a mappa mundi painted on parchment, 93 cm high and 183 cm wide. Since the nineteenth century it has formed part of the collections of the Naval Museum of Madrid (Spain). A line of text on the map says it was made by the Cantabrian cartographer and sailor Juan de la Cosa in 1500 in the Andalusian port city of El Puerto de Santa María. Its rich decoration hints that it was ordered by some powerful member of the court of the Catholic Monarchs, who ruled the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon at that time.

Contents

In 1499, he served as the chief pilot in the expedition of Alonso de Ojeda to the coasts of South America. Upon his return to Andalusia, he drew his famous mappa mundi ("world map") and soon returned to the Indies, this time with Rodrigo de Bastidas. In the following years, De la Cosa alternated trips to America under its own command with special duties from the Crown, including an assignment as a spy in Lisbon and participation in the board of pilots held in Burgos in 1508. In 1509, he began what would be his last expedition, again with Ojeda, to take possession of the coasts of modern Colombia.

Alonso de Ojeda Spanish conquistador, navigator and governor

Alonso de Ojeda was a Spanish navigator, governor and conquistador. He travelled through Guyana, Venezuela, Trinidad, Tobago, Curaçao, Aruba and Colombia. He is famous for having named Venezuela, which he explored during his first two expeditions, for having been the first European to visit Guyana, Colombia, and Lake Maracaibo, and later for founding Santa Cruz.

Andalusia Autonomous community of Spain

Andalusia is an autonomous community in southern Spain. It is the most populous, and the second largest autonomous community in the country. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a "historical nationality". The territory is divided into eight provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga and Seville. Its capital is the city of Seville.

Mappa mundi Medieval European map of the world

A mappa mundi is any medieval European map of the world. Such maps range in size and complexity from simple schematic maps 25 millimetres or less across to elaborate wall maps, the largest of which was 3.5 m in diameter. The term derives from the Medieval Latin words mappa and mundi.

De la Cosa died in an armed confrontation with indigenous people before he could get possession of Urabá. [2]

Gulf of Urabá Northern coast of Colombia

The Gulf of Urabá is a gulf on the northern coast of Colombia. It is part of the Caribbean Sea. It is a long, wide inlet located on the coast of Colombia, close to the connection of the continent to the Isthmus of Panama.The town of Turbo, Colombia, lies at the mid eastern side naturally sheltered by the Turbo Bay part of the Gulf. The Atrato River flows into the Gulf of Urabá.

Origin and youth

Monument dedicated to Juan de la Cosa in Santona, Cantabria. Cantabria Santona Juan de la Cosa 01 lou.JPG
Monument dedicated to Juan de la Cosa in Santoña, Cantabria.

No one knows exactly where Juan de la Cosa was born, but the most accepted hypothesis is that it was in Santoña (Cantabria), [3] because there are documents showing that he was a resident there and his wife and daughter lived in that city. [4] Some 16th-century chroniclers called him "the Biscayne", leading to confusion with another sailor called "Juan Vizcaino". However, today they are known to be different people. [5]

His date of birth is also unknown, but it is estimated between 1450 and 1460, nor is any information available from his childhood or adolescence. It is assumed that the young man took part in sailing voyages around the Bay of Biscay and then towards the Canary Islands and West Africa. [6]

Bay of Biscay Gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea off the west coast of France and the north coast of Spain

The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Point Penmarc'h to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal.

Canary Islands Archipelago in the Atlantic and autonomous community of Spain

The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago and the southernmost autonomous community of Spain located in the Atlantic Ocean, 100 kilometres west of Morocco at the closest point. The Canary Islands, which are also known informally as the Canaries, are among the outermost regions (OMR) of the European Union proper. It is also one of eight regions with special consideration of historical nationality as recognized by the Spanish Government. The Canary Islands belong to the African Plate like the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla, the two on the African mainland.

The first solid references come from 1488, when Juan de la Cosa was in Portugal. At that time, navigator Bartolomeu Dias had just arrived in Lisbon, after having reached the Cape of Good Hope. The Catholic Monarchs may have sent de la Cosa to that city as a spy to obtain information and details of the discovery. He managed to return to Castile before Portuguese officers captured him. [7]

Portugal Republic in Southwestern Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe, being bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

Bartolomeu Dias Portuguese explorer

Bartolomeu Dias, a nobleman of the Portuguese royal household, was a Portuguese explorer. He sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488, the first European to do so, setting up the route from Europe to Asia later on. Dias is the first European during the Age of Discovery to anchor at what is present-day South Africa.

Lisbon Capital city in Lisbon metropolitan area, Portugal

Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with an estimated population of 505,526 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km2. Lisbon's urban area extends beyond the city's administrative limits with a population of around 2.8 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. About 3 million people live in the Lisbon metropolitan area, which represents approximately 27% of the country's population. It is mainland Europe's westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost portions of its metro area form the westernmost point of Continental Europe, which is known as Cabo da Roca, located in the Sintra Mountains.

Early in the 1490s, Juan de la Cosa was living in El Puerto de Santa María and owned a ship called Marigalante or Galician. It is believed that it was there that he established a business relationship with the Pinzón brothers. [6]

Early voyages

Bust of Juan de la Cosa, Santona JuandelaCosa bust Santona.JPG
Bust of Juan de la Cosa, Santoña

According to some historians he was born in 1460 at Sta. Maria del Puerto (Santoña), in Cantabria, Spain. From early childhood he spent time on the water. From the waters of his native country, which he knew thoroughly, he soon ventured on to the coast of Western Africa, which was at that time the goal of many Spanish expeditions. The first reliable references place him in Portugal in 1488, meeting the explorer Bartolomeu Dias who had just sailed around the Cape of Good Hope.

Travels

Travels with Christopher Columbus

Juan de la Cosa sailed with Christopher Columbus on his first three voyages to the New World. He owned and was master of the Santa María , flagship of Columbus's first voyage in 1492. The vessel shipwrecked that year on the night of 24–25 December off the present-day site of Cap-Haïtien, Haiti. De la Cosa, in a notable act of cowardice (or treason, in Columbus's documented opinion), fled the sinking Santa Maria (his partial ownership of the vessel notwithstanding) in the flagship's boat, rather than endeavor to assist Columbus in kedging the stricken vessel from off the coral reef on which it had run aground. He and a handful of loyals made for La Nina, waiting a few hundred yards astern of the flagship, but they were turned back by La Nina's captain Vicente Yanez.

On Columbus's second voyage, in 1493, de la Cosa was mariner and cartographer on the ship Colina. On Columbus' third voyage, in 1498, de la Cosa was on the ship La Niña. Some historians believe de la Cosa did not participate in this voyage.

In 1494 de la Cosa received compensation from the Spanish monarchs for the sinking of his ship on his first voyage. He was awarded the right to transport docientos cahíces de trigo ("two hundred cahices of flour") [8] from Andalucia to Biscay, and exempted from certain duties.

First voyage with de Ojeda

On his fourth voyage, in 1499, de la Cosa was the first pilot for the expedition of Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci, and with them was among the first to set foot on the South American mainland on the Gulf of Paria. At the same time they explored the coast from Essequibo River to Cape Vela.

In spite of not receiving much remuneration, De la Cosa had benefited considerably, having mapped in detail the coast of the region he explored, information he would use to create his famous map.

On the fifth voyage, in 1500, de la Cosa, Rodrigo de Bastidas, and Vasco Núñez de Balboa explored the lands of present-day Colombia and Panama. He explored further along the South American coast to the isthmus of Panama, and returned to Haiti in 1502. When the Spanish court found soon afterwards that the Portuguese had made several incursions into the newly discovered country, Queen Isabella sent Juan de la Cosa at the head of a delegation to Portugal to protest this incursion. De la Cosa was arrested and incarcerated, liberated only with the help of Queen Isabella.

First independent voyage

De la Cosa was nominated an alguazil , and in 1504–05(?) (or 1506) was commander of an expedition to the Pearl Islands and the Gulf of Urabá to found settlements there. At the same time he visited Jamaica and Haiti.

Second voyage with de Ojeda and de la Cosa's death

An 1887 illustration of de la Cosa's death The death of La Cosa.jpg
An 1887 illustration of de la Cosa's death

In 1509 Juan de la Cosa set out for the seventh and last time for the New World. He carried two hundred colonists on three ships, and on reaching Haiti placed himself under the command of Alonso de Ojeda, who added another ship with one hundred settlers to the expedition. After having settled an old border dispute between Alonso de Ojeda and Diego de Nicuesa, they went with Francisco Pizarro into de Ojeda's territory and landed at the future site of Cartagena. This was against the warnings of de la Cosa, who proposed they disembark on the more peaceful coast of the Gulf of Urabá. When the Spanish came ashore, they got in a fight with the natives on the Bay of Calamar, and drove them off. Emboldened by the Spanish victory, de Ojeda decided to go further into the forest, to the native village at the future site of Turbaco. When they arrived at the town, they were attacked by the natives, and de la Cosa was shot with poison arrows and killed. De Ojeda escaped, and fled to the coast. Another Spanish expedition passed by, and de Ojeda told them of the murderous natives. The men of the other expedition joined de Ojeda for a punitive attack on that village, killing all of its inhabitants to avenge de la Cosa's death. De la Cosa's widow received 45,000 maravedís and all the natives he had in his possession as indemnity for services rendered.

Cartography

Map of Juan de la Cosa. 1500 map by Juan de la Cosa.jpg
Map of Juan de la Cosa.

Juan de la Cosa made several maps of which the only survivor is his famous world map from 1500. It is the oldest known European map that shows the New World. Of special interest is the outline of Cuba, which Christopher Columbus never believed to be an island. Walkenaer and Alexander von Humboldt were the first to point out the great importance of this chart. It is now in the Museo Naval in Madrid. Reproductions of it were first given by Humboldt in his Atlas géographique et physique.

See also

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References

  1. Cánovas del Castillo y Vallejo, p.28
  2. Floyd, Troy (1973). The Columbus Dynasty in the Caribbean, 1492-1526. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. p. 135.
  3. Cánovas del Castillo y Vallejo, p.11
  4. Bilbao, Pedro (1948). "Juan de la Cosa" (pdf). VII Congreso de Estudios Vascos (Biarritz) (in Spanish). San Sebastián: Eusko Ikaskuntza: 321–328. ISBN   84-8419-931-2 . Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  5. León Guerrero, tomo 1, p.164
  6. 1 2 Cervera Pery, José (2000). "Juan de la Cosa: el marino y el hombre" [Juan de la Cosa: the sailor and the man]. Cuadernos Monográficos del Instituto de Historia y Cultura Naval (in Spanish) (35): 49–57. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  7. "Juan de la Cosa" (in Spanish). ArteHistoria. Archived from the original on 26 March 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  8. A cahice was approximately 15 bushels.

Bibliography

Non-English