Juan Ponce de León

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Juan Ponce de León y Figueroa[1] (1474 – July 1521)[2] was a Spanish explorer. He became the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown. He led the first European expedition to Florida, which he named. He is associated with the legend of the Fountain of Youth, reputed to be in Florida.

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Spain

Juan Ponce de León was born in the village of Santervás de Campos in the northern part of what is now the Spanish province of Valladolid. Although early historians placed his birth in 1460, more recent evidence shows he was likely born in 1474. His family genealogy is extremely confusing and poorly documented[citation needed]. There is no consensus on who his parents were but it seems that he was a member of a distinguished and influential noble family. His relatives included Rodrigo Ponce de León, the Marquess of Cádiz and a celebrated figure in the Moorish wars[3].

Ponce de León was also related to another notable family, Núñez de Guzmán, and as a young man he served as squire to Pedro Núñez de Guzmán, Knight Commander of the Order of Calatrava. A big contemporary chronicler, Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes, states that Ponce de León became an experienced soldier fighting in the Spanish campaigns that defeated the Moors in Granada and completed the re-conquest of Spain in 1492.[4]

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