Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Juan Díaz de Solís

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 4
Juan Díaz de Solís

by Ventura Fuentes


Spanish navigator and explorer, b. about 1470 at Lebrija (Seville), or, according to some accounts, in Asturias; d. in South America in 1516. After some explorations in Central America in 1506 and in Brazil in 1508, he succeeded Amerigo Vespucci as pilot-major, upon the latter's death in 1512. This title had been conferred upon Vespucci by Ferdinand of Spain 22 March, 1509, and carried with it a high salary. Two years after appointment to this office, de Solís prepared an expedition to explore the southern part of the new continent. His ships sailed from Lepe on 8 Oct., 1515, following the eastern coast as far as the mouth of the Rio de la Plata. He went up that river for some distance, and, wishing to take possession of the country in the name of the Crown, landed on the eastern bank of the river, somewhere near the junction of the Uruguay and Paraná Rivers, with two officers and seven men. This region was inhabited by wild tribes, and the little party had not proceeded far when they were attacked from ambush, and Díaz de Solís and most of his folIowers were killed. When he did not come back, those who had remained behind on the ships determined to return to Spain. Francisco de Torres, the brother-in-law of Díaz de Solís, then took charge, and after naming the river Río de Solís, they set sail, arriving in Spain, 4 Sept., 1516. The news of the disastrous ending of the expedition was communicated to Cardinal Ximenes de Cisneros who was then regent of Spain. Varnhagen, in his "History of Brazil", published in Portuguese (Rio de Janeiro, 1854-58), states that Nuño Manuel visited the La Plata before Díaz de Solís. Manuel Trelles gives the same honor to Diego García in a pamphlet published in Buenos Aires in 1879.

FREJEIRO, Juan Díaz de Solís y el Descubrimiento del Rio de la Plata (1879-80); TRELLES, Diego Garcia, Primer Descubridor del Rio de la Plata (Buenos Aires, 1879); BERRA, Bosquejo Historico de la Republica Oriental del Uruguay (Montevideo, 1881).

VENTURA FUENTES