Juan Sebastian del Cano

Spanish Adventurer & Explorer

Born: 1476, at bay of biscay

Died: 1526

Del Cano set sail with Magellan and his fleet of ships in 1519 as a “sobrasaliente” or soldier. The fleets mission was to locate a sea-passage through the mainland and sail west to the Spice Islands, which, when found, would be claimed for the Spanish crown. On the journey, several of Magellan’s captains and officers, including del Cano, mutinied off the coast of South America. The mutiny was put down, and del Cano was punished along with the other mutineers. The ships continued on to the Philippine Islands, where Ferdinand Magellan was killed by natives, along with most of his officers, in a skirmish in April 1521.

After Magellan’s death, the two remaining ships of the fleet, the Victoria and the Trinidad, loaded their holds with cloves and quickly set sail back to Spain. At this point, due to a disagreement between the survivors expedition leadership, the ships split up. The Trinidad headed east to the Spanish colonies in America, and the Victoria, under the control of the recently freed Del Cano’s leadership, headed west to Spain. In 1522, del Cano sailed into Seville completing the circumnavigation of the world.

Del Cano became a national hero for his achievement and received a pension from King Charles of Spain. As history progressed, however, Magellan’s role and credit began to grow, whereas del Cano and his fame quickly diminished.

Del Cano later died during his command of another expedition while at sea off the coast of South America.

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