Andrés de Urdaneta and the Manila Galleons

In 1565, Andrés de Urdaneta would successfully cross the Pacific Ocean – going from the Far East to New Spain. This would open up a west-to-east trade route between Asia and the Americas.


Andrés de Urdaneta and the Manila Galleons
In this single episode topic, we follow the life of Andrés de Urdaneta. The Spanish mariner would spend 10 years in the Spice Islands fighting the Portuguese, circumnavigate the world, become an Augustinian priest, and then be the first to discover and accurately map the route from Asia to New Spain. For over 200 years, this route would be plied by the famed Manila Galleons – great ships bringing the treasures of Asia to the west in exchange for the silver of Peru and Mexico.

Download this episode or listen online.


There is not a lot about Urdaneta available – even less in English. I found one biography of the man – written back in the early 60s – but it is not in print anywhere. And no one has posted a digital version of it. Thus, I cobbled together his story. Here’s some of the main sources I used.

Basque Explorers of the Pacific Ocean – This online document (PDF) had the most information I could find on Urdaneta.

Wikipedia Pages

Friar Andrés de Urdaneta, O.S.A. by Mairin Mitchell is the only biography I could find of Urdaneta – but it is not in print and difficult to find.

Images: courtesy of Wikipedia.

“Reception of the Manila Galleon by the Chamorro in the Ladrones Islands, ca. 1590”