Ponce de Leon

Ponce de Leon’s Search for the Elusive Fountain

Ponce de Leon’s quest for the fountain of youth led to the discovery of
Florida

and many other unexpected yet significant discoveries. His discoveries helped
him to

become a rich man and a brave conquistador.

On March 3, 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon sailed from the island of Puerto Rico
with

three ships. After asking King Ferdinand of Spain permission to conquer and
settle the

island of Bimini, Ponce de Leon set sail on a quest for a mythical fountain
of youth. The

thought of a mythical fountain that was said to give eternal youth to
whomever drank

from it, allured the king. Perhaps this was one of the ways Ponce de Leon
persuaded the

king into letting him sail on this voyage. Maybe by alluring the king into
thinking the

fountain existed, Ponce was able to explore North America. It is very hard to
believe for

many people that such an incredible fountain existed. King Ferdinand and
Ponce believed

in such a fountain. There are many versions of the legend that refer to this
mystical spring,

pool, stream, or river. If one bathed in this water, one’s youth was
restored. If a whole

new world could be revealed, why not a fountain of youth? After Christopher
Columbus

had sailed to many undiscovered places, it is very easy to see why many
Europeans

believed that there were places that held unknown phenomenons like the
fountain out

there somewhere. This was a European tale that neither Ponce de Leon nor King

Ferdinand could resist.1

2.

The first specific indication that Ponce aimed on exploring the Bahamas was a

letter about the fountain of youth. It was a 1514 letter from Pictro Martire
d’Anghiera to

Pope Leo X. D’Angheria was a diplomat who represented the Pope in the
Spanish royal

court. The letter that d’Angheria wrote provided Pope Leo with a brief
account of

Ponce’s amazing explorations in the Bahamas, which had taken place in the
previous

year.2



d’ Anghiera wrote: Ponce explored and investigated among the farthest
countries

an island called /by us [Bimini] ; there is a fountain continuing throughout
the year that is

so remarkable, that the water of this fountain being drunk makes old men
young,” Still, it

is not certain whether this fountain was originally one of the objects of
Ponce’s search and

thus a reason for his expedition, or whether he heard of the phenomenon in
the course of

his voyage and reported its purposed existence afterward to his king.3

Juan Ponce de Leon was born in San Campos, Leon, in the year of 1460. His

mother was a daughter of Don Rodrigo Ponce de Leon, one of the heroes of the
wars to

expel the Moors. Ponce de Leon is said to have resembled his grandfather in
both

appearance and courage.4

Ponce de Leon was the first explorer to claim a part of North America’s
mainland

for Spain. On his first voyage to the New World, he was accompanied by
Christopher

Columbus. Ponce de Leon soon became a soldier in the Spanish settlement of
Hispaniola

in the West Indies. From approximately 1502-1504, he led Spanish forces
against the

brutal Indians in Higuey, the eastern province of Hispaniola. After they
conquered them,

Juan Ponce de Leon was appointed governor as his reward. He left the island
of

Hispaniola in 1508 to explore Puerto Rico and found gold on the island;
furthermore, he

conquered the island within a year. Ponce de Leon became governor in 1509 and
then

rose to be a very wealthy and powerful man. He governed Puerto Rico for about
three

years. Political rivals removed him from office in 1512. This is when he
received

permission from King Ferdinand to colonize the island of Bimini. In 1513, he
led an

3.

expedition to the various different areas of the Bahamas and other several
unknown

islands. In April of 1513, Ponce de Leon found Florida. He claimed Florida
part of Spain

and continued to explore the coast and the tip of Florida. This is where he
searched for

the fountain of youth. On the west coast of Florida, he looked for the
fountain only to

come to the disappointment that it didn’t exist.5

Along the southeast coast of Florida near the Indian River, Ponce de Leon and
his

crew encountered a group of Indians. This group of Indians were the Ais
Indians. They

called out to Ponce de Leon, so he went ashore. They tried to steal a boat
from the

Spanish, but Ponce was not going to retreat so easily. They then fought the
Indians in a

ferocious battle; an Indian clubbed a Spaniard in the head. They then
captured an Indian

and took him aboard their ship. From a captured Indian, the crew learned that
the land

was called Cautio by the Ais. Of course, the Indian told stories