|Juan Ponce de León|
|Also known as||
Juan Ponce de León y Figueroa
|Ship(s) captained or crewed|
|Behind the scenes|
- "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, Ponce de León 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. Ponce de León captained the Santiago during his search for the Fountain until his death.
Juan Ponce de León y Figueroa was born to a noble Spanish family in the late 15th century. Although born into a noble family, Ponce de León was poor, and like many in similar situations, he sought fame and fortune as a soldier. Ponce de León received an education in fighting skills, manners, and religion while serving a knight named Pedro Nunez de Guzman, and later helped in the ten-year conquest of the Muslim kingdom of Granada in southern Spain.
Discovery of the New World
Juan Ponce de León accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World, later he helped conquering eastern Hispaniola and was appointed governor of the province of Higuey. He conquered Puerto Rico and was appointed it's first governor. In 1512 he removed from office and started an expedition to the lands north of Cuba.
The Fountain of Youth
In 1513, Ponce de León, a Spanish explorer and conquistador, 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 Havanna.
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. Ever since rumors floated of Ponce de León's search, many men had sought the Fountain for the next two centuries.
In 1750, the quest for the Fountain of Youth began after the ancient sailor brought the ship's log to the Spanish King Ferdinand VI. By that time, Ponce de León's now-skeletal corpse would still be in the bed in the captain's quarters of the Santiago. When Jack Sparrow and Hector Barbossa were searching for the silver Chalices of Cartagena, Jack wanted to take a look at the map Ponce's skeletal corpse held. But when he put his hands on it, Ponce's head turned towards him. Barbossa told Jack to not touch the map, which Jack did, making Ponce's head turn back to the map. The body of Ponce de León would remain aboard the Santiago, examining the map of San Miguel for all eternity.
Behind the scenes
- Ponce de León was portrayed by a skeleton prop in On Stranger Tides.
- Before working on On Stranger Tides, the film crew had no idea how to introduce Ponce de León into the story. They later decided to use the skeleton in the bed from the "Captain's Quarters" tableau from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, inserting Ponce de León as the skeletal corpse looking at a map with a magnifying glass, surrounded by mounds of treasure. This overt link to the original attraction resulted from director Rob Marshall's research of the ride before he began filming On Stranger Tides. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer stated, "The Ponce de León cabin set symbolizes what we've tried to do in all of the films, which is to reference the original ride but re-invent in fresh and exciting ways."
- In real-world history, Juan Ponce de León died in 1521 on Cuba because of a wound from the poisoned arrow.
- In the first screenplay draft of At World's End, Hector Barbossa starts to search for the Fountain of Youth, using the captain's journal of Juan Ponce de León that he took from Tia Dalma who in turn received it from a mermaid.
- It is implied in Legends of the Brethren Court: Day of the Shadow that Ponce de León is related to the Spanish stable boy Diego de Leon.
- In LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game, Ponce de León's portrait hangs on the wall of his cabin on the Santiago. The portrait shows him holding the Chalices of Cartagena.
- Juan Ponce de León is a minor character in Tim Powers' novel On Stranger Tides, which was used as the basis for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. In the novel, he found the Fountain on his first expedition, and prolonged his life for the next two centuries. By 1718, he was known as Governor Sawney, an old drunkard on New Providence.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Six Sea Shanties (Mentioned only)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Name first appears on Sao Feng's map)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (First appearance) (As a skeleton)
- LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game (Non-canonical appearance) (As a skeleton)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide
- The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook
- Legends of the Brethren Court: Day of the Shadow
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Disney Second Screen
- ↑ The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook, p142.
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide, p24.
- ↑ Juan Ponce de León: Discovery of Florida
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide
- ↑ The Art of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides