Saturday, December 22, 2007

First European Set Foot on Baja 1533

Fortún Ximénez
was Spanish sailor who led a mutiny during an early expedition along the coast of Mexico and founded the first known European settlement in Baja California.
Ximénez was the pilot of a ship sent by Hernán Cortés in 1533 to travel north along the coast of New Spain from present-day Manzanillo, Colima, in search of two ships that had been lost without a trace on a similar voyage the previous year. The previous voyages had been in search of the mythical Strait of Anián and the Island of California, which according to a previously published romance novel in Spain, was supposedly a terrestrial paradise populated only by dark-skinned women. During the voyage, Ximénez lead a revolt in the which captain was killed. The mutineers then landed near present day La Paz, on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, which the mutineers believed to be the Island of California.
Ximénez was later killed by local Native Americans. The survivors returned to New Spain with the story of having discovered dark-skinned women and black pearls, which seemed to confirm the early legends of the Island of California.
The stories of the survivors prompted several follow-up expeditions by Cortés in the following years.

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