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Andres Urdaneta

URDANETA, Andres (oor-dah-nay'-tah), Spanish navigator, born in Villafranca, Guipuzcoa, in 1499; died in Mexico, 3 June, 1568. He early attained reputation as a skilful navigator, and in 1525 left Mexico as chief pilot of the fleet of Garcia de Loaysa in the expedition to the Moluccas. There he fought against the Portuguese till 1536, when he was sent to report to the emperor, but was shipwrecked on the coast of Portugal, imprisoned in Lisbon, and deprived of his papers and valuables. He escaped, and went to Valladolid, where Charles V. held his court, but, unable to obtain recognition for his services, he entered the order of St. Austin. On his return to Mexico, he was made librarian of his order. In 1558 Philip II., urged by the council of the Indies, decided to pursue the conquest of the Philippine islands. Urdaneta being named to him as the person that best knew those parts, the king wrote to him, in September, 1559, appointing him chief pilot of the expedition, which, under Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, left Acapulco, 21 November, 1564. After taking possession of Cebu, and conquering Mindoro, Legaspi despatched Urdaneta to New Spain with a request for re-enforcements. He reported afterward to the king at Madrid before returning to his convent in Mexico, where he died. He wrote several memoirs and letters which are preserved in the archives of the Indies at Seville. Among them are "Relacion del Viage del Comendador Garcia de Loaysa," "Relacion de la expedicion del Comendador Miguel Lopez de Legaspi," and "Cartas al rey Felipe II. Con descriptiones de los puertos de Acapulco y Navidad." In the first memoir he speaks of a strait which the French reported to exist " north of the codfish country" (Newfoundland or Labrador), communicating with the Pacific.

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