basque explorers in the pacific ocean
Yesterday I completed a Center for Basque Studies proofreading project on a book about Basque exploration in the Pacific Ocean by William Douglass. Such a great read, especially with me living in California and having spent time in many of the places detailed: Monterey Bay (reached in the mid 1500s), Morro Bay (late 1500s), and the San Francisco Bay (late 1700s). It’s amazing to read of the hardships and accomplishments of the crews, and at the same time sad to know the price the native populations paid for this European gain.
A few fun facts from the book: The Victoria of Ferdinand Magellan’s historic expedition was the first vessel to circumnavigate the globe. It was constructed in the Basque town of Zarauz in 1515 and completed the journey sailing into Sanlúcar de Barrameda, just north of Cádiz, Spain, in September of 1522 with just 18 survivors on board—Magellan not one of them, having died pursuing pagan conversion on Cebu Island in the Philippines. The Basque Juan Sebastian Elcano (Elkano) captained the vessel that historic day, though Magellan had already sailed to the Philippines there years prior so he technically completed his famed circumnavigation.
1589 Pacific Ocean map courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.