De Soto, Hernando
De Soto, Hernando(dĭsō`tō, Span. ĕrnän`dō dā sō`tō), c.1500–1542, Spanish explorer. After serving under Pedro Arias de ÁvilaArias de Ávila, Pedro
, known as Pedrarias
, c.1440–1531, Spanish colonial administrator. He was sent (1514) as governor to Darién (now part of Panama), then under the rule of Vasco Núñez de Balboa.
..... Click the link for more information. in Central America and under Francisco PizarroPizarro, Francisco
, c.1476–1541, Spanish conquistador, conqueror of Peru. Born in Trujillo, he was an illegitimate son of a Spanish gentleman and as a child was an illiterate swineherd.
..... Click the link for more information. in Peru, the dashing young conquistador was made governor of Cuba by Emperor Charles V, with the right to conquer Florida (meaning the North American mainland). He led an expedition that left Spain in 1538 and landed on the Florida coast, probably near Tampa Bay, in 1539. That was the start of an adventure that took him and his band nearly halfway across the continent in search of gold, silver, and jewels, which they never found.
After wintering near Tallahassee they went N through Georgia and the Carolinas into Tennessee, then turned S into Alabama, where De Soto was wounded in a battle with Native Americans. He was so determined to continue his treasure hunt that he refused to inform his men that Spanish vessels were off the coast. In the spring of 1541 they again set forth and were probably the first Europeans to see and cross the Mississippi. A journey up the Arkansas River and into Oklahoma disclosed no treasures, and, discouraged, they turned back to the banks of the Mississippi. There De Soto died; he was buried in the river, so that the Native Americans, whom he had intimidated and ill-used, would not learn of his death.
His men went west again across the Red River into N Texas, then returned to the Mississippi and followed it to the sea. A remnant of the expedition made its way down the coast to arrive at Veracruz in 1543. The chief chronicle of the expedition is by a Portuguese called the Gentleman of Elvas.
See biographies by R. B. C. Graham (1924), T. Maynard (1930, repr. 1969), B. Shipp (1831, repr. 1971), and M. Albornoz (1986); studies by R. F. Schell (1966) and P. Lily (1983).
De Soto, Hernando
Born 1496(?) in Barcarrota, Spain; died May 21, 1542, on the Mississippi River, North America. Spanish conquistador.
De Soto participated in F. Pizarro’s Peruvian campaigns from 1532 to 1534 and was appointed governor of Cuba in 1538. Setting out in search of the mythical “Land of the Seven Cities,” he arrived with a detachment in Florida in 1539. In 1540 he discovered the Savannah River north of Florida and the Altamaha, Apalachicola, and Alabama rivers to the west. In 1541 he discovered the Tennessee and Arkansas rivers and the Ozark Plateau.