Sebastián Vizcaíno

Sebastián Vizcaíno (1548–1624) was a Spanish soldier, entrepreneur, explorer, and diplomat whose varied roles took him to New Spain, the Philippines, the Baja California peninsula, the California coast and Japan.

Sebastián Vizcaíno
Bornca. 1548
Died1624 (aged 75–76)

Early career

Vizcaíno was born in 1548, in Extremadura, Crown of Castile (Spain). He saw military service in the Spanish invasion of Portugal during 1580–1583. Coming to New Spain in 1583, he sailed as a merchant on a Manila galleon to the Philippines in 1586–1589. In 1587, he was on board the Santa Ana as one of the merchants when Thomas Cavendish captured it, robbing him and others of their personal cargoes of gold.

The Californias

In 1593, the disputed concession for pearl fishing on the western shores of the Gulf of California was transferred to Vizcaíno. He succeeded in sailing with three ships to La Paz, Baja California Sur in 1596. He gave this site (known to Hernándo Cortés as Santa Cruz) its modern name and attempted to establish a settlement. However, problems of resupply, declining morale, and a fire soon forced its abandonment.

In 1601, the Spanish Viceroy in Mexico City, the Conde de Monterrey, appointed Vizcaíno general-in-charge of a second expedition—-to locate safe harbors in Alta California for Spanish Manila galleons to use on their return voyage to Acapulco from Manila. He was also given the mandate to map in detail the California coastline that Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo had first reconnoitered 60 years earlier. He departed Acapulco with three ships on May 5, 1602. His flagship was the San Diego and the other two ships were the San Tomás and the Tres Reyes.

On November 10, 1602, Vizcaíno entered and named San Diego Bay. Sailing up the coast, Vizcaíno named many prominent features such as the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, Point Conception, the Santa Lucia Mountains, Point Lobos, Carmel River and Monterey Bay (thus obliterating some of the names given these same features by Cabrillo in 1542). He was the first person in recorded history to note certain ecological features of the California coast such as the Monterey cypress forest at Point Lobos.

The commander of the Tres Reyes, Martín de Aguilar, became separated from Vizcaíno and continued up the coast to present-day Oregon as far as Cape Blanco and possibly to Coos Bay.[1][2][3]

Much of what we know about Vizcaíno's Pacific Coast voyage is from the diary of Antonio de la Ascensión,[4] a Carmelite friar, chronicler and cosmographer who traveled with the expedition.[5]

One result of Vizcaíno's voyage was a flurry of enthusiasm for establishing a Spanish settlement at Monterey, but this was ultimately deferred for another 167 years after the Conde de Monterrey left to become Viceroy of Peru and his successor was less favorable. A colonizing expedition was authorized in 1606 for 1607, but was delayed and then canceled in 1608.[6]

Japanese relations

In 1611, Vizcaíno carried a Japanese delegation led by Tanaka Shōsuke from Mexico back to Japan. In an ambassadorial capacity, Vizcaíno met with the shōgun Tokugawa Hidetada and his father, the retired first shōgun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa dynasty. However, diplomacy soured due to Vizcaíno's disregard of Japanese court etiquette. After taking his leave in 1612, he surveyed the east coast of Japan and searched for two mythical islands called Rico de Oro and Rico de Plata. Failing to find them, he returned to Japan.

In 1613, Vizcaíno accompanied the Japanese embassy led by Hasekura Tsunenaga to Mexico. In Acapulco, Vizcaíno was seriously injured in a fight with the Japanese, as recorded by 17th-century Aztec historian Chimalpahin in his journal, "Annals of His Time." The Japanese entourage continued to Mexico City, and embarked a ship at Veracruz bound for Europe.

Dutch conflict

On November 11, 1616, Vizcaíno commanded 200 men at the port of Salagua against an attack by 200 Dutch pirates. In the afternoon, both sides ran out of ammunition. Vizcaíno's men retreated after the Dutch returned with more ammunition.[7]


Sebastián Vizcaíno died in 1624 in Mexico City, New Spain.


  1. ^ Cogswell, Jr., Philip (1977). Capitol Names: Individuals Woven Into Oregon's History. Portland, OR: Oregon Historical Society. pp. 9–10.
  2. ^ LaLande, Jeff. "Cape Blanco". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  3. ^ McArthur, Lewis A.; McArthur, Lewis L. (2003) [1928]. Oregon Geographic Names (7th ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Press. pp. 159–160. ISBN 978-0875952772.
  4. ^ See the article on Antonio de la Ascensión in Wikipedia.sp
  5. ^ English edition online at American Journeys, exerpted from "Spanish Exploration in the Southwest, 1542-1706", by Herbert Eugene Bolton (editor). (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1916). Pages 104-134.
  6. ^ Cutter (1978)
  7. ^ Gerhard (2003)


  • Chapman, Charles E. (1920). "Sebastian Vizcaino: Exploration of California". The Southwestern Historical Quarterly. 23 (4): 285–301.
  • Cook, Warren L. (1973). Flood Tide of Empire. Yale University Press. pp. 9–11.
  • Cutter, Donald C. (1978). "Plans for the Occupation of Upper California A New Look at the "Dark Age" from 1602 to 1769". The Journal of San Diego History. San Diego Historical Society. 24 (1).
  • Gerhard, Peter (2003). Pirates of New Spain, 1575-1742. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. pp. 117–119. ISBN 0-486-42611-4.
  • Hayes, Derek (2003). Historical Atlas of the North Pacific Ocean. p. 31.
  • Mathes, W. Michael (1965). Californiana I: documentos para la historia de la demarcación comercial de California, 1583-1632. Madrid: José Porrúa Turanzas.
  • Mathes, W. Michael (1968). Vizcaíno and Spanish Expansion in the Pacific Ocean, 1580-1630. California Historical Society.
  • Wagner, Henry R. (1928). "Spanish Voyages to the Northwest Coast in the Sixteenth Century. Chapter X: The Antecedents of Sebastian Vizcaino's Voyage of 1602". California Historical Society Quarterly. 7 (3): 256–276.
115th meridian west

The meridian 115° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole.

The 115th meridian west forms a great circle with the 65th meridian east.

Between the equator and the 60th parallel south it forms the eastern boundary of the South Pacific Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone and the western boundary of the Latin American Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.

Año Nuevo State Park

Año Nuevo State Park is a state park of California, USA, encompassing Año Nuevo Island and Año Nuevo Point, which are known for their pinniped rookeries. Located in San Mateo County, the low, rocky, windswept point juts out into the Pacific Ocean about 55 miles (89 km) south of San Francisco and the Golden Gate. Año Nuevo State Natural Reserve, formerly a separate unit of the California state park system, was merged into Año Nuevo State Park in October 2008. The coastal geographic center, or coastal-midpoint of California is located at the Northern end of this park at N 37°09′58″, W 122°21'40", as the absolute geographic center of California falls at N 37°09′58″, W 119°26′58″W.The reserve contains a diversity of plant communities, including old growth forest, freshwater marsh, red alder riparian forest and knobcone pine forest. Its four perennial streams support steelhead and coho salmon, and its wetlands are habitat to the rare San Francisco garter snake and California red-legged frog. Cultural resources include the remnants of a prehistoric Native American village site and a number of structures from the 19th century Cascade Ranch. In conjunction with adjacent and nearby public lands, the unit permits the protection of important regional ecological corridors.

The point remains undeveloped, much as Sebastián Vizcaíno saw it from his passing ship in 1603.

Bahía de Banderas

Bahía de Banderas (Spanish pronunciation: [ba'i.a ðe βan'deɾas], Spanish for: Bay of Flags) is a bay on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, within the Mexican states of Jalisco and Nayarit. It is also the name of an administrative municipality, located on the bay in Nayarit state. The port and resort city of Puerto Vallarta is on the bay.

Dokuganryū Masamune

Dokuganryū Masamune (独眼竜政宗) is a 1987 Japanese television series. It is the 25th NHK taiga drama. The broadcast received an average viewer rating of 39.7 percent in the Kanto area.

History of California before 1900

Human history in California began when indigenous Americans first arrived some 13,000–15,000 years ago. Coastal exploration by Europeans began in the 16th century, and settlement by Europeans along the coast and in the inland valleys began in the 18th century. California was ceded to the United States under the terms of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo following the defeat of Mexico in the Mexican–American War. American westward expansion intensified with the California Gold Rush, beginning in 1848. California joined the Union as a free state in 1850, due to the Compromise of 1850. By the end of the 19th century, California was still largely rural and agricultural, but had a population of about 1.4 million.

History of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States

The history of Latinos and Hispanics in the United States is wide-ranging, spanning more than four hundred years and varyingday United States, too. Hispanics (whether criollo or mestizo) became the first American citizens in the newly acquired Southwest territory after the Mexican–American War, and remained a majority in several states until the 20th century.

As late as 1783, at the end of the American Revolutionary War, Spain held claim to roughly half of today's continental United States. In the Treaty of Paris France ceded Louisiana (New France) to Spain from 1763 until it was returned in 1800 by the Treaty of San Ildefonso. In 1775, Spanish ships reached Alaska. From 1819 to 1848, the United States and its army increased the nation's area by roughly a third at Spanish and Mexican expense, gaining among others three of today's four most populous states: California, Texas and Florida.

Japanese warship San Buena Ventura

San Buena Ventura was a 120-ton ship built in Japan under the direction of the English navigator and adventurer William Adams for the shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu.

The ship was built in 1607, and followed the construction of a smaller 80 ton ship, also by William Adams, which had been used for the charting of the waters around Japan. Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered the second, bigger, ship for travels to other countries.

On 30 September 1609, the Spanish galleon San Francisco with a crew of 373 was wrecked on the coast of Chiba, Japan (near the present-day town of Onjuku), and the 317 survivors were received warmly by the Japanese. One of the passengers was the governor of the Philippines, Rodrigo de Vivero y Aberrucia. He had the opportunity to meet the shogun Tokugawa Hidetada, and the following year his father Tokugawa Ieyasu, meetings in which the Franciscan friar Luis Sotelo, who had been in Japan for a few years, acted as an interpreter.

Ieyasu expressed his desire to expand trade with New Spain (Mexico) and Spain. Rodrigo de Vivero answered that he could readily organize trade on a scale surpassing that of the Dutch, the main rivals of Spain in Asia at the time. He also offered to send to Japan 50 experts in silver mining from Mexico. In exchange, he asked for the protection of Spanish priests in Japan, support for shipwrecked boats on the Japanese coasts, and the expulsion of Dutch merchants from Japan, the last request being rejected by Ieyasu.

In order for the Spanish to return to Mexico, Ieyasu lent them William Adams's ship, also lent them the equivalent of 4,000 ducados for the trip.

Rodrigo de Vivero made it back to Mexico on board the ship in 1610. Twenty-two Japanese were also on board, led by Tanaka Shōsuke, who became the first recorded Japanese to reach the continent. Luis de Velasco, the viceroy of Nueva España received the 22 Japanese and expressed his great satisfaction at the treatment the Spanish sailors had received in Japan. He confiscated the San Buena Ventura however, fearing that the Japanese would become expert at trans-oceanic navigation.

The viceroy of Nueva España decided to send an embassy to Japan in the person of the famous explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno.

Vizcaino also had a mission to return the 4,000 ducados and to research "gold and silver islands", supposedly to the east of Japan. He left for Japan on 22 March 1611, and after another shipwreck eventually returned in 1613 on board the Japanese-built galleon San Juan Bautista with the first official Japanese embassy to the Americas and Europe, led by Hasekura Tsunenaga.

Labrisomus xanti

Labrisomus xanti, the Largemouth blenny, is a species of labrisomid blenny native to the Pacific coast of Mexico from Sebastián Vizcaíno Bay, Baja California to Bahía Tenacatita, Jalisco. It inhabits shallow waters. This species can reach a length of 17.8 centimetres (7.0 in) TL. The specific name honours the collector of the type, the Hungarian zoologist John Xantus (1825-1894).

Martín de Aguilar

Martín de Aguilar (fl. 1603) was a Spanish explorer whose log contains one of the first written descriptions of the coast of the U.S. state of Oregon.Aguilar was the commander of the ship Tres Reyes in an expedition led by Sebastián Vizcaíno. Vizcaíno set out from Mexico in 1602 in search of usable harbors and the mythical city of Quivira. While exploring along the northern California coast, a storm separated Vizcaíno and Aguilar's ships. While Vizcaíno may have reached the present Oregon-California border, Aguilar continued up the coast. Aguilar is thought to have sighted and named Cape Blanco, and he may have sailed as far as Coos Bay.Aguilar reported sighting a "rapid and abundant" river that he did not enter because of the current. He then turned back to Mexico because of scurvy among his crew. It is unknown what river he sighted, but maps referred to the "Rio d'Aguilar" in the 18th century. No deliberate exploration of the Northwest Coast occurred again until some 150 years after Aguilar, though accidental sightings and shipwrecks were possible.Aguilar and most of his crew died on the way to Acapulco.

Megamouth shark

The megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) is a species of deepwater shark. It is rarely seen by humans and is the smallest of the three extant filter-feeding sharks alongside the whale shark and basking shark. Since its discovery in 1976, few megamouth sharks have been seen, with fewer than 100 specimens being observed or caught. Like the other two planktivorous sharks, it swims with its enormous mouth wide open, filtering water for plankton and jellyfish. It is distinctive for its large head with rubbery lips. It is so unlike any other type of shark that it is usually considered to be the sole extant species in the distinct family Megachasmidae, though suggestion has been made that it may belong in the family Cetorhinidae, of which the basking shark is currently the sole extant member. Researchers have predicted the feeding patterns of megamouth sharks in relation to the other two planktivorous sharks; the three plankivourous sharks have ram feeding in common, as it evolved from ram feeding swimming-type ancestors that developed their filtering mechanism to capture small prey like plankton. In addition to the living M. pelagios, however, two extinct megamouth species – the Priabonian M. alisonae and the Oligocene–Miocene M. applegatei – have also recently been proposed on the basis of fossilized tooth remains. However, the Cretaceous-aged M. comanchensis has been recently reclassified as an odontaspid shark in the genus Pseudomegachasma, and is in fact unrelated to the megamouth shark despite similar teeth morphology.

Mikiw, California

Mikiw was a Native American village of the Chumash people located in the modern-day county of Santa Barbara, California in the United States.

In 1602, the Sebastián Vizcaíno expedition stopped by the Goleta Valley and the nearby Chumash village of Mikiw. The village was situated on the Pacific coast, at the site of the current Dos Pueblos in the present day city of Goleta, California. To its east, across the Dos Pueblos Creek, was the adjacent coastal village of Kuya'mu. The two settlements on either side of Dos Pueblos Creek, at the ocean's edge, undoubtedly impressed Crespi.In August 1769, the Spanish missionary and explorer Juan Crespí recorded that Mikiw and Kiya'mu were "very large villages with vast numbers of people and a great many houses in each, where they have their towns at the very edge of the sea."

Misión de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de La Paz Airapí

Mission La Paz was established by the Jesuit missionaries Juan de Ugarte and Jaime Bravo in 1720 and financed by the Marqués de Villapuente de la Peña, at the location of the modern city of La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

La Paz was the location of the earliest Spanish activity in Baja California, and was frequently the site of conflicts between the Spanish and the local Guaycura and Pericú Indians. Fortún Ximénez, mutineer on an expedition sent by Hernán Cortéz, landed at La Paz in 1533. Two years later, Cortés himself led a large party that attempted but failed to establish a settlement. Sebastián Vizcaíno in 1596 gave it its anomalously pacific name. Isidro de Atondo y Antillón and Eusebio Francisco Kino attempted to establish a mission settlement in 1683 but again failed because of conflicts with the native inhabitants. When Jesuit missions finally took root in Baja California after 1697, the initial focus of activity was to the north, in the area around Loreto.

The Jesuits finally returned to the site of Airapí (probably a Guaycura name) in 1720, in coordinated expeditions from Loreto that traveled both by sea (under Ugarte and Bravo) and overland (under Clemente Guillén). The mission had little success, however. It was sacked in the Pericú Revolt of 1734 and finally abandoned in 1748, when its Indian neophytes were relocated to Todos Santos.

Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay is a bay of the Pacific Ocean located on the coast of the U.S. state of California. The bay is south of the major cities of San Francisco and San Jose. The county-seat city of Santa Cruz is located at the north end of the bay. The city of Monterey is on the Monterey Peninsula at the south end. The Monterey Bay Area is a local colloquialism sometimes used to describe the whole of the Central Coast communities of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

Nicolás de Cardona

Nicolás de Cardona was a Spanish entrepreneur and adventurer with residence in Seville, who was involved in the exploration of the Western coast of the North American continent

In 1610, Nicolas sailed from Spain to the Americas, as a captain in the fleet of General Juan Gutiérrez de Garibay. Nicolas commanded six ships together with Captain Francisco Basilio.

On 13 August 1611 a concession for the exploitation of pearl fishing along the California coast, previously held unsuccessfully by Sebastián Vizcaíno, was given to Tomás de Cardona (the uncle of Nicolás), Sancho de Merás, and Francisco de la Paraya, all Sevillans.

Nicolas was put in charge of the exploration. He went to Acapulco end of 1614 and built three frigates there, the San Antonio, San Francisco and San Diego.

During the following years, Nicolas attempted in vain to establish a pearl business, and fought against Dutch intrusions by Joris van Spilbergen.

Ruined, Nicolas went back to Spain to obtain more funds, and once again set to develop the pearling business, receiving Royal Orders in May 1618.

He finally returned to Spain in 1623, where he published in 1624 his Hydrographic and Geographic Descriptions of Many northern and Southern Lands and Seas in the Indies, Specifically of the Discovery of the Kingdom of California.

Sebastián Vizcaíno Bay

Sebastián Vizcaíno Bay (Spanish: Bahía de Sebastián Vizcaíno) is a bay along the west coast of the Baja California Peninsula in northwestern Mexico.

Tanaka Shōsuke

Tanaka Shōsuke (田中 勝助, also 田中 勝介) was an important Japanese technician and trader in metals from Kyoto during the beginning of the 17th century.

According to Japanese archives (駿府記) he was a representative of the great Osaka merchant Gotō Shōsaburō (後藤 少三郎). He is the first recorded Japanese to have travelled to the Americas in 1610 (although some Japanese, such as Christopher and Cosmas, are known to have sailed across the Pacific on Spanish galleons as early as 1587). Returning to Japan in 1611, he again went to North America in 1613, with the embassy of Hasekura Tsunenaga. In total, he accomplished two roundtrips between Japan and North America and helped establish trade and diplomatic relations between Japan and the Spanish Empire.

Villa Jesús María

Villa Jesús María, Baja California is a small town in Baja California, Mexico, on Highway 1 between El Rosarito to the north and Guerrero Negro to the south.

It is located toward the southern end of the Sebastián Vizcaíno Bay, due east of Isla de Cedros.


Vizcaíno may refer to:

Biscayne (ethnonym), an ethnonym in use in Spanish the Renaissance - 19th century, meaning a Basque speaking person

Vizcaíno-Serra Oak

The Vizcaíno-Serra Oak (also known as the Junipero Oak) was a large California live oak tree closely associated with Junípero Serra and the early history of Monterey, California. First described in 1602 by the explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno, it stood next to a creek in what is now Monterey State Historic Park. The tree was declared dead in 1904 and cut down in 1905. The preserved trunk and lower branches were erected in the grounds of the Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo where they remained for most of the 20th century. Although the remains of the tree have since been removed, pieces of it are on display in local museums.

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