Pinzón, Martín Alonso

Pinzón, Martín Alonso märtēnˈ älōnˈsō pēnthōnˈ [key] d.1493, Spanish navigator. The commander of the Pinta on Columbus's first voyage to the New World in 1492, he was already an experienced seaman and an influential citizen of Palos de la Frontera. The support given to Columbus by Pinzón and his brothers is not definitely known, but it was important to the eventual success of the expedition. For reasons that are not clear, he abandoned Columbus in the Antilles for more than six weeks and upon rejoining him was censured for treasonable conduct. On the return voyage his ship was separated from that of Columbus in a storm, but both reached Palos the same day, Mar. 15, 1493. He died soon afterward. His younger brother, Francisco Martín Pinzón, fl. 1492, was pilot of the Pinta. Another brother, Vicente Yáñez Pinzón, fl. 1492–1509, commanded the Niña on Columbus's expedition. When the Santa María was wrecked on the coast of Hispaniola, Vicente Pinzón took aboard Columbus, who finished the voyage in the Niña. In 1495, Pinzón received letters patent for an expedition, but it is unknown whether he made a voyage immediately. He commanded an expedition which sailed from Palos in Nov., 1499, reached the coast of Brazil (Jan., 1500), probably near its easternmost point, and explored the mouth of the Amazon River. In 1505 he was made governor of Puerto Rico, with permission to colonize the island. He explored (1508–9) the coasts of Yucatán, Honduras, and Venezuela with Juan Díaz de Solís.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Explorers, Travelers, and Conquerors: Biographies