Spanish navigator and explorer, b. about 1470 at Lebrija (Seville), or, according to some accounts, in Asturias; d. in South America in 1516
Diaz de Solis, JUAN, 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 March 22, 1509, and carried with it a high salary. Two years after appointment to this office, de Solis prepared an expedition to explore the southern part of the new continent. His ships sailed from Lepe on October 8, 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 Parana 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 Diaz de Solis and most of his followers 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 Diaz de Solis, then took charge, and after naming the river Rio de Solis, they set sail, arriving in Spain, September 4, 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 Nufio Manuel visited the La Plata before Diaz de Solis. Manuel Trelles gives the same honor to Diego Garcia in a pamphlet published in Buenos Aires in 1879.