Juan Ponce de Leon was born into a noble family in San Servas, Spain. Although of noble lineage, he was penniless and like so many destitute bluebloods sought fame and fortune as a soldier. Ponce de Leon arrived in Borinquen in 1508, found gold, and conquered the island for Spain. He became the island’s first governor in 1509 and founded Puerto Rico’s first European settlement, Caparra. In 1512, however, he was pushed out of office by political rivals and once again set out to find and conquer new territories and to discover the legendary Fountain of Youth for his king, Ferdinand II. The fountain was rumored to have magical properties that would allow men to attain immortality and eternal youth, and was said to exist on an island called Bimini. Did Ponce de Leon find the Fountain of Youth? Ponce de Leon never found Bimini or the Fountain of Youth, though he did make several other important discoveries, including the Gulf Stream and was the first westerner to discover Florida.
Questions Answered Below About Ponce de Leon
- What did Juan Ponce de Leon bring on his trip to Florida?
- what did Ponce de Leon originally call Florida?
- why did Ponce de Leon want to explore?
- what encounters did Ponce de Leon have with people of other nations?
Timeline of the Life of Ponce de Leon
1474: When was Ponce de Leon born? Juan Ponce de Leon was born in 1474 in the village of Santervás de Campos, Spain.
1490: He fought as a soldier in the Spanish army against the Muslims in southern Spain, after serving as page to Don Pedro Nunuz de Guzman, a Spanish knight.
1493: why did Juan Ponce de Leon go to America with Christopher Columbus? Ponce de Leon joined Christopher Columbus during his second voyage for the new world, along with some 1200 sailors, colonists, and soldiers.
1494: He stayed back in Santo Domingo, Hispaniola, after the return of Christopher Columbus to Spain.
1502: Ponce de Leon was assigned the task of crushing the native Taínos, who were considered to be rebellions in Hispaniola.
1505: Ponce de Leon established a new town in Higüey and named it Salvaleón.
1506: Ponce de León discovered a nearby island named Borinquen. While there, he found large deposits of gold.
1508: On account of his earlier exploration and stories heard from the native Tainos, Ponce de Leon was sure of the presence of gold on the Boriquen island.
June 12, 1508: He anchored in San Juan Bay and created the first settlement in Puerto Rico by the name of Caparra.
1509: Ponce de Leon returned to Hispaniola in the early 1509 bringing back a good quantity of gold with him. He was appointed as the governor of San Juan Bautista and was instructed to extend the settlement of the island. These appointments were made by Diego Colón, the son of Christopher Columbus and were meant to override the authority of the governor.
1512: Ponce de Leon was given a royal contract which outlined his rights and authorities to search for the ‘Islands of Bimini’ also spelled Benimy.
1513: Ponce de Leon set out from San German in Puetro Rico with three ships, at his own expense.
March 4, 1513: After traveling for a few days, the fleet sighted land, which Ponce de Leon believed was another island. What did Ponce de Leon originally call Florida? He named it as La Florida.
June 21, 1513: He went on searching for a chain of islands in the west and reached the Dry Tortugas. There the crew members captured many giant sea turtles, Caribbean Monk Seals and seabirds.
October 19, 1513: Ponce de Leon reached the shore of Puerto Rico, almost eight months after the beginning of his exploration. According to many historians, he discovered Florida while searching for the Fountain of Youth.
1514: Ponce de Leon secured a second grant, which gave him the power to make settlements on the Islands of Bimini and Florida.
September 1514: After partly pacifying Puerto Rico, which had been in revolt, he sailed to Spain, where the king commissioned him.
1521: Ponce de Leon set out with two ships which consisted of some 200 men, including priests, farmers and artisans, in order to colonize Florida. He landed on the west coast of Florida but was met by Native American warriors.
July, 1521: When did Ponce de Leon die? As they went inland for fresh water, the Calusa ambushed them. Ponce de León was shot in the thigh by an arrow and was seriously wounded. He suffered serious injuries in the conflict and died of his wounds in Havana, Cuba. His tomb is in the cathedral in Old San Juan.