Juan Díaz de Solís
His origins are disputed.1 One document records him as a Portuguese in the service of Spain.2 Others claim that his birth took place in Lebrija, in the province of Seville, Spain, but he began his naval career in nearby Portugal before serving the Spanish Crown.3
He served as navigator on expeditions to the Yucatán in 1506-15074 and Brazil in 1508 with Vicente Yáñez Pinzón. He became a Pilot-Major of Spain in 1512 following the death of Amerigo Vespucci,5 and was thereafter commissioned to update the Padrón Real with Juan Vespucci.67
Two years after appointment to this office, Díaz de Solís prepared an expedition to explore the southern part of the new American continent. His three ships and crew of 70 men sailed from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, in Spain, on 8 October 1515. He followed the eastern coast of South America southward as far as the mouth of the Río de la Plata. He reached and named the Río de la Plata in 1516, sailing up river to the confluence of the Uruguay River and Paraná River with two officers and seven men. The little party had not proceeded far when they were attacked by local Charrúa Indians. The Charrúa Indians practiced cannibalism, theory suggests that he was eaten by the Charrúa after disembarking his ship. Surviving crew members reported Díaz de Solís and most of the other men were killed, thus putting the expedition to an end. His brother-in-law, Francisco de Torres, took charge of the ships and returned to Spain.
Several places in Uruguay are named after Juan Díaz de Solís:
- bodies of water:
- populated places:
- E. Wright (2008) Lost Explorers (p.91)
- Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Alguns documentos do Archivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo açerca das navegações e conquistas portuguezas (Lisbon, 1892), pp. 262 – 263. A 1517 decree from the Spanish court also lists Díaz de Solís as a Portuguese. Source: Archivo General de Indias, INDIFERENTE, 419, L.6 ,F.602R-602V, ‘Orden a los oficiales de la Casa de la Contratación’, 21 January 1517.
- Medina, José Toribio: Juan Díaz de Solís. Estudio Histórico, Santiago de Chile : J.T. Medina, 1897
- Brevoort, James Carson (1873). "Notes on Giovanni da Verrazano and on a Planisphere of 1529, Illustrating His American Voyage in 1524, with a Reduced Copy of the Map". Journal of the American Geographical Society of New York 4: 145–297. JSTOR 196400.
- Hall, Elial F.: "Americus Vespucius", Journal of the American Geographical Society of New York, Vol. 24. (1892), page 376. 
- Archivo General de Indias,, "Comisión a Juan Díaz de Solís y Juan Vespucci", ES.41091.AGI/16404.46.5.1//CONTRATACION,5784,L.1,F.20-21.
- Stevenson, Edward L.: "The Geographical Activities of the Casa de la Contratacion", Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 17, No. 2. (Jun., 1927), pp. 39-59.
- Davies, Arthur :"The First Discovery and Exploration of the Amazon in 1498-99," Transactions and Papers (Institute of British Geographers), No. 22. (1956), pp. 87–96.
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