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Juan Ponce de León


Ethnic group



1474, Santervás de Campos, Valladolid, Castile and León, Spain


c. 1523, aboard the Santiago on an island[1]


Leonore (wife)
Two daughters
One son



Also known as

Juan Ponce de León y Figueroa[2]

Ship(s) captained or crewed



Fountain of Youth
Spanish Royal Navy

Behind the scenes
First appearance

On Stranger Tides

Last appearance

On Stranger Tides


Skeleton remains in the bed aboard the Santiago, examining the map of San Miguel for all eternity.


"No, I told you! Ponce de León died two hundred years ago."
"Aye, but he died searching for something, didn't he?"
"...The Fountain of Youth.
Captain, Fisherman and King Ferdinand[src]

Juan Ponce de León, born Juan Ponce de León y Figueroa, was a Spanish explorer and conquistador in the early 1500s. Born to a noble Spanish family in the late 15th century, he became the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown, and also led the first European expedition to Florida, which he named.

Ponce de León was mostly associated with the Fountain of Youth, a legendary spring which was said to grant eternal life. While the fabled Fountain was reputed to be in Florida, from a route shown on navigational charts, Ponce de León discovered the Fountain on an unchartered island. He captained the Santiago during his search for the Fountain until his death.


Early life[]

Juan Ponce de León y Figueroa was born to a noble Spanish family in the late 15th century.[2] Despite this, Ponce de León was poor, and like many in similar situations, he sought fame and fortune as a soldier. He received an education in fighting skills, manners and religion while serving a knight named Pedro Nunez de Guzman, later helping in the ten-year conquest of the Muslim kingdom of Granada in southern Spain.

Exploration in the New World[]

Juan Ponce de León accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World, and later helped conquer eastern Hispaniola, being appointed governor of the province of Higuey. He conquered Puerto Rico and was appointed it's first governor[3]. In 1512 he removed from office and started an expedition to the lands north of Cuba.

The Fountain of Youth[]

First discovery[]

In 1513, Ponce de León, a Spanish explorer and conquistador[4], discovered Florida during his search for the Fountain of Youth, but legends say that he never found it. He returned to Spain, later he tried to conquer Guadeloupe and was re-appointed Governor of Puerto Rico. In 1521 he organized another expedition to Florida, during which he was supposedly wounded with a poisoned arrow. He aborted the expedition and returned to Havana.[5]

Second search[]

"The Santiago. Famously captained by Ponce de León."
Jack Sparrow[src]

Two years later, Ponce de León led another expedition to discover the marvels of the New World. But his ship, the Santiago, was caught in a storm, and ended up on the edge of a cliff on an unchartered island. Through mysterious circumstances, almost all of the crew members, including Ponce de León himself, were soon dead. Holding a personal map of San Miguel in his hand, Ponce de León's corpse remained in a bed found in the captain's quarters aboard the Santiago. Only one Spanish sailor survived, ending up lost at sea for two centuries, carrying the logbook that chronicled every detail of Ponce de León's journey to the Fountain. Sometime after 1523, the route taken by Ponce de León was depicted on Mao Kun Map, the navigational charts that led to otherworldly realms. When rumors floated of Ponce de León's search, many men sought after the Fountain for the next two centuries.[6]

Ponce de León's skeletal remains in the captain's quarters of the Santiago.

In 1750, the quest for the Fountain of Youth began after his last surviving crew member, now over two hundred years old, brought the ship's log to the Spanish King Ferdinand VI. By that time, Ponce de León's now-skeletal corpse remained in the bed in the captain's quarters of the Santiago, being found by Jack Sparrow and Hector Barbossa, who were searching for the silver Chalices of Cartagena. When Jack attempted to grab the map that the skeletal corpse held, Ponce's head turned towards him. Barbossa silently told Jack to not touch the map, and Jack let go, causing the skeleton's head to turn back to the map. Ponce de León's body would remain aboard the Santiago, examining the map of San Miguel for all eternity.[1]

Behind the scenes[]

Juan Ponce de León's portrait



See also[]

External links[]

Notes and references[]