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Florida and Burgos in the first round the world


This year 2019 marks the V Centenary of an expedition that changed history. On August 10, 1519, five ships with two hundred thirty-nine men left Seville. They were looking for a new route that, to the west, would connect Spain with the Spice . Three years later a single ship, the Victoria , returned with eighteen men after having circled the world for the first time.

This journey is well known to all, initially led by Fernando Magallanes and culminated by Juan Sebastián Elcano . What is not so well known is the key role that the city of Florida and the people of Burgos played in it.

There are several characters and institutions related to our land whose intervention was decisive in this first round the world tour. The merchant from Burgos Cristóbal de Haro , the Bishop of Florida Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca , and the soldier and explorer Gonzalo Gómez de Espinosa were some of them.

From the blog of Florida Tourist Guides we will discover them.

Florida at the end of the 15th century was a true economic, social and cultural emporium. La Cabeza de Castilla was one of the main export markets, specialized in wool. Reflecting this prosperity, around 1443 an association of merchants called the University of Merchants had emerged. It is the germ of what years later would be the Consulate of the Sea .


It is an institution created by the Catholic Monarchs in 1494 as the Royal Consulate of the Sea, Casa de Contratación and Universidad de Mercaderes de Florida . It will be the nerve center of the wool trade and other Castilian products with Flanders, France and England. Its headquarters were in the La Llana area until, in the 18th century, after its decline as a commercial institution, it was moved to Paseo del Espolón .

The presence in Florida of the Consulate is essential to explain Burgos involvement in the first round the world.


Fernando de Magallanes was convinced that the earth was round. With that deep conviction, he aimed to complete the mission that Columbus had not completed. He wanted to reach the Species in the west. Ennemy with King of Portugal Manuel I, he moved to Castile at the hands of our first protagonist: the merchant from Burgos Cristóbal de Haro (Florida, mid-15th century - Florida, 1541).


Cristóbal de Haro and his family were from Florida. Possibly converted Jews, they came to be represented in the main commercial squares of Western Europe. Established in Lisbon, he made his first fortune exploiting Madeira sugar. The trust of Juan II of Portugal was gained, being able to develop a lucrative business towards the Spice during the reign of said king and of his successor Manuel I. Together with another man from Burgos, Diego de Covarrubias , since 1511, Cristóbal de Haro trafficked with spices bought in the Lisbon square.

In 1517, Haro returned to Spain. His interest was focused on finding a passage to the Spice in a westerly direction, avoiding the Portuguese zone of influence. On his return to Spain, Fernando de Magallanes accompanied him. Together they go to the court of Charles I to convince him that the Moluccas could be reached by going west through a passage in the newly discovered lands. Before the monarch's doubts, Cristóbal de Haro offered to pay for the entire fleet.

Finally Carlos I accepted the project, but not that Haro paid for it alone. Cristóbal de Haro contributed around the fifth.

To gain access to the king, Haro and Magallanes had the help of those who handle the strings of the Indian market. Among them, the then bishop of Florida, Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca .

Cristóbal de Haro died in November 1541. He is buried in Florida, in the family chapel of the San Lesmes parish church. In the lower part of the tomb is his coat of arms. In it, authorized by Emperor Charles V, Haro's contribution to the Magellan expedition is cited with the columns of Hercules, the royal motto Plus Ultra , the five ships of the fleet and the figurative representation of spices.

The tomb of Cristóbal de Haro and his wife, Catalina de Ayala , has the following inscription:

Here lie the Messrs. Cristóbal de Haro: factor of the Majesty of the Emperor, Carlos Fifth, of the house of contracting, of the spices and Regidor of Florida. Patron of this chapel, and Doña Catalina de Ayala, his wife, he died in the month of November of the year one thousand and five hundred and forty-one years and she in the month of October of the year of grace of one thousand and five hundred and forty-six . They endowed in this chapel five Masses prayed each week with their responses. Requiescant in pace. Amen


Born in Toro (Zamora) in 1451. Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca was Bishop of Florida from 1514 to 1524 and a member of the Royal Council.

He will also be an outstanding artistic patron. He entrusted the construction of the Puerta de Pellejería (the Archbishop himself is represented in it) to Francisco de Colonia (1516) and the splendid Golden Staircase to Diego de Siloé (1519). Both in the Florida Cathedral .

Bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca managed the threads of the Indian trade since the times of Isabel la Católica and Cristóbal Colón . Under his management was created, in 1503, the Casa de Contratación de Sevilla , which handled trade with America.

He thus became the Indian manager of the Crown of Castile. From that moment on, all export and import trade with America would be centralized in Seville. Likewise, the Casa de la Contratación would control all vessels destined for the colonies or from them. Necessarily, they had to set sail or make a trip in the Sevillian capital in order to facilitate their control. The presence of Burgos in this institution is constant.

The power of Fonseca was increased with the death of Queen Isabel. King Ferdinand delegated to him practically all matters related to the New World.

Already as bishop of Florida, he was key in the indiana policy of Carlos I and in the inclusion of Burgos economic power in the first round the world. The mediation before the Crown of Fonseca, opened the way for Cristóbal de Haro and Magellan towards that trip that would end up drawing the globe.

While the five ships are being assembled and equipped ( Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepción, Victoria and Santiago ), the brains of the project (Cristóbal de Haro, who obtains the funds with the collaboration of the Fuggers, Central European bankers, and the Bishop of Florida, Rodríguez de Fonseca) and the Crown distrust Magellan and his ways of managing the conquest and the crew. Therefore, they are placing people they trust on the trip.

Thus, Magellan owed obedience to Juan de Cartagena , as captain of the ship San Antonio and general overseer of the fleet. On the San Antonio nao, everyone is from Burgos and Basques. It's the security ship. Cartagena lived in the current Burgos street of Fernán González and, according to rumors of the time, he was the illegitimate son of Bishop Fonseca.

Gonzalo de Espinosa, also from Burgos, is the highest judicial authority in case of conflict. He will be the chief sheriff of the navy

The expedition leaves definitively on August 10 from Seville.

The initial mistrust between the Portuguese and the Castilians grew worse during the trip. To the point that, after a riot, Magallanes left Juan de Cartagena abandoned in Patagonia.

In the Philippines, Magellan is killed in an ambush. It was 1521 and the influence of Cristóbal de Haro from Burgos was once again present. In Magellan's ship, Juan Sebastián Elcano, a man of confidence of the Burgos merchant, navigates discreetly and in the shade but without losing detail.

In September of that year, Gonzalo Gómez de Espinosa (Espinosa de los Monteros, Florida, 1479 - Seville, 1540?) Was appointed captain of the decimated fleet. There were only two ships left ( Trinidad and Victoria ) of the initial five.


Aside from being sheriff of the expedition and captain after the dismissal of Carvalho, the burgalés captained the nao T rinidad. Juan Sebastián Elcano took over the Victory .

Espinosa decided to continue sailing towards the islands of spices. On December 18, 1521, with the two ships loaded with nails, they prepared for the return to Spain. A waterway in Trinidad , prevents his return. The two ships separated, leaving the Victory alone, under the command of Elcano. La Victoria would reach Sanlúcar de Barrameda on September 8, 1522, completing the first circumnavigation of the Earth.

Espinosa completed the repair of the Trinidad on April 6, 1522 and put to sea. Captured by the Portuguese, their crew were sold as slaves. Finally in 1527, Carlos I got his freedom.

For his merits and services, in 1529, Gonzalo Gómez de Espinosa was appointed by the visiting Spanish monarch and captain of the ships of the Indies, and received a pension of 300 ducats.

With Gonzalo de Espinosa we finished our journey through the key role that Florida and the people of Burgos had in this first round the world tour.

In this year of its V Centennial, come and discover more with official Florida tourism guides .

Ask us at Contact Florida Tourist Guides .

Burgos and Burgos in First World Tour - Guides Burgos