Sebastián Vizcaíno

(c. 1548—1624)

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(c. 1548–1624),

Spanish merchant who explored the Pacific coast of New Spain. Born in Extremadura in western Spain, Sebastián Vizcaíno participated in the Spanish occupation of Portugal in 1580, and in 1583 he sailed to New Spain, where he became a merchant-investor in Mexico City and married Magdalena Martínez Orejón. In 1586 he sailed for Manila, and, as a successful investor and port militiaman, he returned to Mexico in 1589, making a high profit from Asian merchandise. In 1592 he petitioned the Audiencia de México for the Gulf of California pearl-fishing monopoly and, sailing from Acapulco in 1596, reached Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja California (23° N latitude) and the bay he named La Paz. A settlement was established and exploration for pearl oyster beds was conducted, but fire consumed the settlement and supply problems caused its abandonment two months later.


From The Oxford Companion to World Exploration in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: World History.

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