Hernando de Soto (explorer)
Overview
 
Hernando de Soto was a Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 explorer and conquistador
Conquistador
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...

 who, while leading the first Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, was the first European documented to have crossed the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

.

A vast undertaking, de Soto's North American expedition ranged throughout the southeastern United States
Southeastern United States
The Southeastern United States, colloquially referred to as the Southeast, is the eastern portion of the Southern United States. It is one of the most populous regions in the United States of America....

 searching for gold and a passage to China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. De Soto died in 1542 on the banks of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 in Arkansas or Louisiana.

Hernando de Soto was born to parents who were hidalgos
Hidalgo (Spanish nobility)
A hidalgo or fidalgo is a member of the Spanish and Portuguese nobility. In popular usage it has come to mean the non-titled nobility. Hidalgos were exempt from paying taxes, but did not necessarily own real property...

 of modest means in Extremadura
Extremadura
Extremadura is an autonomous community of western Spain whose capital city is Mérida. Its component provinces are Cáceres and Badajoz. It is bordered by Portugal to the west...

, a region of poverty and hardship from which many young people looked for ways to seek their fortune elsewhere.
Encyclopedia
Hernando de Soto was a Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 explorer and conquistador
Conquistador
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...

 who, while leading the first Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, was the first European documented to have crossed the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

.

A vast undertaking, de Soto's North American expedition ranged throughout the southeastern United States
Southeastern United States
The Southeastern United States, colloquially referred to as the Southeast, is the eastern portion of the Southern United States. It is one of the most populous regions in the United States of America....

 searching for gold and a passage to China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. De Soto died in 1542 on the banks of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 in Arkansas or Louisiana.

Hernando de Soto was born to parents who were hidalgos
Hidalgo (Spanish nobility)
A hidalgo or fidalgo is a member of the Spanish and Portuguese nobility. In popular usage it has come to mean the non-titled nobility. Hidalgos were exempt from paying taxes, but did not necessarily own real property...

 of modest means in Extremadura
Extremadura
Extremadura is an autonomous community of western Spain whose capital city is Mérida. Its component provinces are Cáceres and Badajoz. It is bordered by Portugal to the west...

, a region of poverty and hardship from which many young people looked for ways to seek their fortune elsewhere. Two towns—Badajoz
Badajoz
Badajoz is the capital of the Province of Badajoz in the autonomous community of Extremadura, Spain, situated close to the Portuguese border, on the left bank of the river Guadiana, and the Madrid–Lisbon railway. The population in 2007 was 145,257....

 and Barcarrota
Barcarrota
Barcarrota is a Spanish municipality in the province of Badajoz, Extremadura. It has a population of 3,664 and an area of 136.1 km²....

—claim to be his birthplace. He spent time as a child at each place, and he stipulated in his will that his body be interred at Jerez de los Caballeros
Jerez de los Caballeros
Jerez de los Caballeros is a town of south-western Spain, in the province of Badajoz. It is situated on two heights overlooking the River Ardila, a tributary of the Guadiana, 12 miles east of the Portuguese frontier. The old town is surrounded by a Moorish wall with six gates. The newer portion is...

, where other members of his family were interred. The age of the Conquerors came on the heels of the Spanish reconquest
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

 of the Iberian peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 from Islamic forces. Spain and Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 were filled with young men seeking a chance for military fame after the Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 were defeated. With discovery of new lands to the west (which they thought at the time to be East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

), the poor young men were attracted to whispers of glory and wealth.

De Soto sailed to the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 in 1514 with the first Governor of Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

, Pedrarias Dávila
Pedrarias Dávila
Pedrarias Dávila y Ortiz de Cota , was a Spanish colonial administrator...

. Brave leadership, unwavering loyalty, and clever schemes for the extortion of native villages
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 for their captured chiefs became de Soto's hallmark during the Conquest of Central America
History of Panama
The History of Panama is about the Isthmus of Panama region's long history that occurred in southern Central America, from Pre-Columbian cultures, during the Spanish colonial era, through independence and the current country of Panama.-Indigenous period:...

. He gained fame as an excellent horseman, fighter, and tactician, but was notorious for his brutality.

During that time, de Soto was influenced by the achievements of Juan Ponce de León
Juan Ponce de León
Juan Ponce de León 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...

, who discovered Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

; Vasco Núñez de Balboa
Vasco Núñez de Balboa
Vasco Núñez de Balboa was a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador. He is best known for having crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, becoming the first European to lead an expedition to have seen or reached the Pacific from the New World.He traveled to the New World in...

, who discovered the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 (he called it the "South Sea" below Panama); and Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer. He was born in Sabrosa, in northern Portugal, and served King Charles I of Spain in search of a westward route to the "Spice Islands" ....

, who first sailed that ocean to the Orient
Orient
The Orient means "the East." It is a traditional designation for anything that belongs to the Eastern world or the Far East, in relation to Europe. In English it is a metonym that means various parts of Asia.- Derivation :...

s.

First expedition – The Conquest of Peru

In 1530, de Soto became a regidor of León, Nicaragua
León, Nicaragua
León is a department in northwestern Nicaragua . It is also the second largest city in Nicaragua, after Managua. It was founded by the Spaniards as Santiago de los Caballeros de León and rivals Granada, Nicaragua, in the number of historic Spanish colonial homes and churches...

. He led an expedition up the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula
Yucatán Peninsula
The Yucatán Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, with the northern coastline on the Yucatán Channel...

 searching for a passage between the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 and the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 to enable trade with the Orient, the richest market in the world. Failing that, and without means to explore further, de Soto, upon Dávila's death, left his estates in Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

. Bringing his own men on ships which he hired, de Soto joined Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro González, Marquess was a Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Incan Empire, and founder of Lima, the modern-day capital of the Republic of Peru.-Early life:...

 at his first base of Tumbez shortly before departure for the interior of Peru.

Pizarro quickly made de Soto one of his captains. When Pizarro and his men first encountered the army of the Inca Atahualpa
Atahualpa
Atahualpa, Atahuallpa, Atabalipa, or Atawallpa , was the last Sapa Inca or sovereign emperor of the Tahuantinsuyu, or the Inca Empire, prior to the Spanish conquest of Peru...

at Cajamarca
Cajamarca
Cajamarca may refer to:Colombia*Cajamarca, Tolima a town and municipality in Tolima DepartmentPeru* Cajamarca, city in Peru.* Cajamarca District, district in the Cajamarca province.* Cajamarca Province, province in the Cajamarca region....

, Pizarro sent de Soto with fifteen men to invite Atahualpa to a meeting. When Pizarro's men attacked Atahualpa and his guard the next day (the Battle of Cajamarca
Battle of Cajamarca
The Battle of Cajamarca was a surprise attack on the Inca royal entourage orchestrated by Francisco Pizarro. Sprung on the evening of November 16, 1532, in the great plaza of Cajamarca, the ambush achieved the goal of capturing the Inca, Atahualpa, and claimed the lives of thousands of his...

), de Soto led one of the three groups of mounted soldiers. The Spanish captured Atahualpa. De Soto was sent to the camp of the Incan army, where he and his men plundered Atahualpa's tents.

During 1533, the Spanish held Atahualpa captive in Cajamarca for months while his subjects brought gold and silver objects to fill a room for his ransom. During this captivity, de Soto became friendly with Atahualpa and taught him to play chess. By the time the ransom had been completed, the Spanish became alarmed by rumors of an Incan army advancing on Cajamarca. Pizarro sent de Soto with 200 soldiers to scout for the rumored army.

While de Soto was gone, the Spanish in Cajamarca decided to kill Atahualpa to prevent his rescue. De Soto returned to report that he found no signs of an army in the area. After executing Atahualpa, Pizarro and his men headed to Cuzco, the capital of the Incan Empire. As the Spanish force approached Cuzco, Pizarro sent his brother Hernando
Hernándo Pizarro
Hernando Pizarro y de Vargas was a Spanish conquistador and one of the Pizarro brothers who ruled over Peru...

 and de Soto ahead with 40 men. The advance guard fought a pitched battle with Incan troops in front of the city, but the battle had ended before Pizarro arrived with the rest of the Spanish party. The Incan army withdrew during the night. The Spanish plundered Cuzco, where they found much gold and silver. Receiving a mounted soldier's share of the plunder from Atahualpa's camp, Atahualpa's ransom, and the plunder from Cuzco, de Soto became very wealthy.

On the road to Cuzco, Manco Inca Yupanqui
Manco Inca Yupanqui
Manco Inca Yupanqui was one of the Incas of Vilcabamba. He was also known as "Manco II" and "Manco Cápac II" . Born in 1516, he was one of the sons of Huayna Cápac and came from a lower class of the nobility.Túpac Huallpa, a puppet ruler crowned by conquistador Francisco Pizarro, died in 1533...

, a brother of Atahualpa, had joined Pizarro. Manco had been hiding from Atahualpa in fear of his life, and was happy to gain Pizarro's protection. Pizarro arranged for Manco to be installed as the Inca leader. De Soto joined Manco in a campaign to eliminate the Incan armies who had been loyal to Atahualpa. By 1534, de Soto was serving as lieutenant governor of Cuzco while Pizarro was building his new capital (which later became known as Lima
Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

) on the coast. In 1535 King Charles
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 awarded Diego de Almagro
Diego de Almagro
Diego de Almagro, , also known as El Adelantado and El Viejo , was a Spanish conquistador and a companion and later rival of Francisco Pizarro. He participated in the Spanish conquest of Peru and is credited as the first European discoverer of Chile.Almagro lost his left eye battling with coastal...

, Francisco Pizarro's former business partner, the governorship of the southern portion of the Incan Empire. Pizarro and de Almagro quarreled over which governorship Cuzco was in. When de Almagro made plans to explore and conquer the southern part of the Incan empire (Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

), de Soto applied to be his second-in-command, offering a large payment for the position, but de Almagro turned him down. De Soto packed up his treasure and returned to Spain in 1534.

Return to Spain

De Soto returned to Spain with an enormous share of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire
Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire
The Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire was one of the most important campaigns in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. This historic process of military conquest was made by Spanish conquistadores and their native allies....

. He was admitted into the prestigious Order of Santiago
Order of Santiago
The Order of Santiago was founded in the 12th century, and owes its name to the national patron of Galicia and Spain, Santiago , under whose banner the Christians of Galicia and Asturias began in the 9th century to combat and drive back the Muslims of the Iberian Peninsula.-History:Santiago de...

. His share was awarded to him by the King of Spain, and he received 724 marks of gold, 17,740 pesos. He married Isabel de Bobadilla
Inés de Bobadilla
Inés de Bobadilla sometimes Isabel de Bobadilla was the daughter of Pedro Arias Dávila and Isabel de Bobadilla, she married, in 1537, Hernando de Soto who was then named governor of Cuba and Adelantado de Florida. Her husband leaving Cuba for his expedition in Florida, from 1539 to 1543, she...

, daughter of Pedrarias Dávila
Pedrarias Dávila
Pedrarias Dávila y Ortiz de Cota , was a Spanish colonial administrator...

 and a relative of a confidante of Queen Isabella
Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I was Queen of Castile and León. She and her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon brought stability to both kingdoms that became the basis for the unification of Spain. Later the two laid the foundations for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor...

.

De Soto petitioned King Charles
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 for the government of Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

 with "permission to make discovery in the South Sea," but was granted the governorship of Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 instead. De Soto was expected to colonize the North American continent for Spain within four years, for which his family would be given a sizeable piece of land.

Fascinated by the stories of Cabeza de Vaca
Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish explorer of the New World, one of four survivors of the Narváez expedition...

, Spain's just-returned North American explorer, de Soto selected 620 eager Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 and Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

 volunteers, some of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n descent, for the governing of Cuba and conquest of North America. Averaging 24 years of age, they eventually embarked from Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

 on seven of the King's ships
Galleon
A galleon was a large, multi-decked sailing ship used primarily by European states from the 16th to 18th centuries. Whether used for war or commerce, they were generally armed with the demi-culverin type of cannon.-Etymology:...

 and two caravel
Caravel
A caravel is a small, highly maneuverable sailing ship developed in the 15th century by the Portuguese to explore along the West African coast and into the Atlantic Ocean. The lateen sails gave her speed and the capacity for sailing to windward...

s of de Soto's. With tons of heavy armour
Armour
Armour or armor is protective covering used to prevent damage from being inflicted to an object, individual or a vehicle through use of direct contact weapons or projectiles, usually during combat, or from damage caused by a potentially dangerous environment or action...

 and equipment, they had a livestock count came to over 500, including 237 horses and 200 pigs for their four-year continental expedition.

De Soto's exploration of North America

Historiography

The main course of de Soto's expedition is subject to discussions and controversy among historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

s and local politicians. The most widely used version of De Soto's Trail comes from a study commissioned by the Congress of the United States. A committee chaired by the anthropologist John R. Swanton
John R. Swanton
John Reed Swanton was an American anthropologist and linguist who worked with Native American peoples throughout the United States. Swanton achieved recognition in the fields of ethnology and ethnohistory...

 published The Final Report of the United States De Soto Expedition Commission in 1939. Among other locations, Manatee County, Florida
Manatee County, Florida
Manatee County is a county in the state of Florida. According to the 2010 census by the U.S. Census Bureau there are 322,833 people living in Manatee Country.Manatee County is part of the North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota Metropolitan Statistical Area...

, claims an approximate landing site for de Soto and has a national memorial recognizing that event. The first part of the expedition's course until de Soto's battle at Mabila
Mabila
The town of Mabila was a small fortress town known to Chief Tuskaloosa in 1540, in a region of present-day central Alabama. The exact location has been debated for centuries...

 (in Alabama) is disputed only in minor details today; yet de Soto's trail beyond Mabila is contested. Swanton reported the de Soto trail ran from there through Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, and Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

. Other theories have argued for a northern route through Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, and Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

 from Mabila.

Historians have more recently considered archeological reconstructions and the oral history
Oral history
Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of planned interviews...

 of Native Americans. Most historical places have been overbuilt, however, and more than 450 years have passed between the events and current history tellers. The only site definitively associated with de Soto's expedition is the Governor Martin Site at the Apalachee village of Anhaica
Anhaica
.Anhaica was an Apalachee Indian town and capital of Apalachee Province located near Myers Park in the present-day city of Tallahassee, Florida. Anhaica's population was approximately 30,000. The province had an estimated population of around 60,000...

, located about a mile east of the present Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee is the capital of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat and only incorporated municipality in Leon County, and is the 128th largest city in the United States. Tallahassee became the capital of Florida, then the Florida Territory, in 1824. In 2010, the population recorded by...

. It was found by archaeologist B. Calvin Jones in March 1987.

Many archaeologists believe the Parkin Site
Parkin Archeological State Park
Parkin Archeological State Park, also known as Parkin Indian Mound, is an archeological site and state park in Parkin, Cross County, Arkansas. Around 1350–1650 CE an aboriginal palisaded village existed at the site, at the confluence of the St. Francis and Tyronza Rivers. Artifacts from this...

 in Northeast Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 was the main town for the province of Casqui
Casqui
Casqui was a Native American tribe discovered in 1541 by the Hernando de Soto expedition. This tribe inhabited fortified villages in eastern Arkansas....

, which de Soto noted. They base this on similarities between descriptions from the journals of the de Soto expedition and artifacts of European origin discovered at the site in the 1960s.

The latest theories draw a route based on accounts from two journal
Diary
A diary is a record with discrete entries arranged by date reporting on what has happened over the course of a day or other period. A personal diary may include a person's experiences, and/or thoughts or feelings, including comment on current events outside the writer's direct experience. Someone...

s of survivors of de Soto's exploration: de Soto's Secretary, Rodrigo Ranjel, and the King's agent, Luys Hernández de Biedma. They described De Soto's trail in relation to Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

, from which they sailed; the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

, which they skirted inland then later headed back toward; the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

, which they approached during their second year; high mountain
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

s, which they traversed immediately thereafter; and dozens of other geographic features
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 along their way - large river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

s and swamp
Swamp
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

s - at recorded intervals. Given that the Earth's natural geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 has not changed since de Soto's time, those journals have been analyzed with modern topographic intelligence
Topography
Topography is the study of Earth's surface shape and features or those ofplanets, moons, and asteroids...

, to render a more precise De Soto Trail.

1539 to early 1540 in Florida

In May 1539, de Soto landed nine ships with over 620 men and 220 horses at present-day Shaw's Point, in Bradenton
Bradenton, Florida
Bradenton is a city in Manatee County, Florida, United States. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's 2007 population to be 53,471. Bradenton is the largest Principal City of the Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a 2007 estimated population of 682,833...

, Florida. He named it Espíritu Santo after the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

. The ships brought priests, craftsmen, engineers, farmers, and merchants; some with their families, some from Cuba, most from Europe and Africa. Few had traveled before outside of Spain, or even their home villages.

Near de Soto's port, the party saw Juan Ortiz, who had come to Florida with the failed Narváez Expedition
Narváez expedition
The Narváez expedition was a Spanish attempt during the years 1527–1528 to colonize Spanish Florida. It was led by Pánfilo de Narváez, who was to rule as adelantado....

 and been held by an inland tribe. Ortiz had come to Florida in search of the earlier Narváez Expedition and was captured by the Uzita. When Chief Hirrihigua of the Uzita ordered Ortiz to be roasted alive, his daughter reportedly begged for the Spaniard's life. Having survived captivity and ritual torture, Ortiz joined the de Soto expedition as a guide and interpreter.

He established a unique method for guiding the expedition and communicating with various tribal dialects. He recruited Paracoxi guides from each tribe along the route. A chain of communication was established whereby a guide who had lived in close proximity to another tribal area was able to pass his information and language on to a guide from a neighboring area. Because Ortiz refused to dress as a hidalgo
Hidalgo (Spanish nobility)
A hidalgo or fidalgo is a member of the Spanish and Portuguese nobility. In popular usage it has come to mean the non-titled nobility. Hidalgos were exempt from paying taxes, but did not necessarily own real property...

 Spaniard, other officers questioned his motives. De Soto remained loyal to Ortiz, allowing him the freedom to dress and live among his Paracoxi friends. Another important guide was the seventeen-year-old boy Perico, or Pedro, from modern-day Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. He spoke several of the local tribes' languages and could communicate with Ortiz. Perico was taken as a guide in 1540 and treated better than the rest of the slaves, due to his value to the Spaniards.

The expedition traveled north, exploring Florida's West Coast, encountering native ambushes and conflicts along the way. De Soto's first winter encampment was at Anhaica
Anhaica
.Anhaica was an Apalachee Indian town and capital of Apalachee Province located near Myers Park in the present-day city of Tallahassee, Florida. Anhaica's population was approximately 30,000. The province had an estimated population of around 60,000...

, the capital of the Apalachee
Apalachee
The Apalachee are a Native American people who historically lived in the Florida Panhandle, and now live primarily in the U.S. state of Louisiana. Their historical territory was known to the Spanish colonists as the Apalachee Province...

. It is one of the few places on the route where archaeologists have found physical traces of the expedition. It was described as being near the "Bay of Horses". The bay was named for where the starving members of the preceding Narváez expedition killed and ate their horses while building boats for escape.

1540 – In Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama & Mississippi

From their winter location in the western panhandle of Florida, having heard of gold being mined "toward the sun's rising," the expedition turned north-east through what is now the modern state of Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. Recently archaeological finds were made at a remote, privately owned site near the Ocmulgee River
Ocmulgee River
The Ocmulgee River is a tributary of the Altamaha River, approximately 255 mi long, in the U.S. state of Georgia...

 in Telfair County
Telfair County, Georgia
Telfair County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the population was 11,794. The 2007 Census Estimate shows a population of 13,366...

. These included nine glass trade beads, some of which bear a chevron pattern
Chevron bead
Chevron beads are special glass beads, the first specimens of this type were created by glass bead makers in Venice and Murano, Italy, towards the end of the 14th century. They may also be referred to as Rosetta, or star beads...

 believed to be indicative of the de Soto expedition. Six metal objects were also found, including a silver pendant and some iron tools. The expedition continued on to present-day South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

. The expedition was received by a female chief (Cofitachequi
Cofitachequi
Cofitachequi was a paramount chiefdom encountered by the Hernando de Soto Expedition in South Carolina. They encountered the Chiefdom of Cofitachequi in April of 1540, at the Mulberry Site, a large mound at the junction of Pine Tree Creek and the Wateree River, near present-day Camden...

), who turned over her tribe's pearls, food and other goods to the Spanish soldiers. The expedition found no gold, however, other than pieces from an earlier coastal expedition (presumably that of Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón.)
De Soto headed north into the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

 of North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, where he spent a month resting the horses while his men searched for gold. De Soto next entered eastern Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

. At this point, De Soto either continued along the Tennessee River
Tennessee River
The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. It is approximately 652 miles long and is located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley. The river was once popularly known as the Cherokee River, among other names...

 to enter Alabama from the north (according to John R. Swanton
John R. Swanton
John Reed Swanton was an American anthropologist and linguist who worked with Native American peoples throughout the United States. Swanton achieved recognition in the fields of ethnology and ethnohistory...

), or turned south and entered northern Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 (according to Charles M. Hudson). The route that Swanton proposed in 1939 is still generally accepted by most archaeologists and by the U.S. government as the route of the de Soto expedition. The maps on this page (and others) depict Charles Hudson's proposed route, but it has not been substantiated by archaeological evidence, and is not considered the consensus route by academicians.

De Soto's expedition spent another month in the Coosa chiefdom
Coosa chiefdom
The Coosa chiefdom was a powerful Native American paramount chiefdom near what are now Gordon and Murray counties in Georgia, in the United States. It was inhabited from about 1400 until about 1600, and dominated several smaller chiefdoms...

 before turning south toward the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

 to meet two ships bearing fresh supplies from Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

. Along the way, de Soto was led into Mauvila (or Mabila), a fortified city in southern Alabama. The Mobilian
Mobilian
Mobilian may refer to:*Mobilian jargon - An informal Native Americans trade language used among the tribes of the Southeastern United States, primarily along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico*The Native American village of Mabila...

 tribe, under Chief Tuskaloosa, ambushed de Soto's army. Other sources suggest de Soto's men were attacked after attempting to force their way into a cabin occupied by Tuskaloosa. The Spaniards fought their way out, and retaliated by burning the town to the ground. During the nine-hour encounter, about 200 Spaniards died, and 150 more were badly wounded, according to the chronicler Elvas. Twenty more died during the next few weeks. They killed an estimated 2,000-6,000 warriors at Mabila.

The Spaniards won a Pyrrhic victory
Pyrrhic victory
A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with such a devastating cost to the victor that it carries the implication that another such victory will ultimately cause defeat.-Origin:...

, as they had lost most of their possessions and nearly one-quarter of their horses. The Spaniards were wounded and sickened, surrounded by enemies and without equipment in an unknown territory. Fearing that word of this would reach Spain if his men reached the ships at Mobile Bay
Mobile Bay
Mobile Bay is an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico, lying within the state of Alabama in the United States. Its mouth is formed by the Fort Morgan Peninsula on the eastern side and Dauphin Island, a barrier island on the western side. The Mobile River and Tensaw River empty into the northern end of the...

, de Soto led them away from the Gulf Coast, into Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, most likely near present-day Tupelo
Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo is the largest city in and the county seat of Lee County, Mississippi, United States. It is the seventh largest city in the state of Mississippi, smaller than Meridian, and larger than Greenville. As of the 2000 United States Census, the city's population was 34,211...

, where they spent the winter.

1541 – To the west through Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana & Texas

In the spring of 1541, de Soto demanded 200 men as porters from the Chickasaw
Chickasaw
The Chickasaw are Native American people originally from the region that would become the Southeastern United States...

. They refused his demand and attacked the Spanish camp during the night. The Spaniards lost about 40 men and the remainder of their limited equipment. According to participating chroniclers, the expedition could have been destroyed at this point, but the Chickasaw let them go.

On May 8, 1541, de Soto's troops reached the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 (Alonso Álvarez de Pineda
Alonso Álvarez de Pineda
Alonso Álvarez de Pineda was a Spanish explorer and cartographer. His map marks the first document in Texas history.-Expedition:The Spanish thought there must be a sea lane from the Gulf of Mexico to Asia...

 was the first European to see it, in 1519, and sailed twenty miles up the river).

De Soto was less interested in the river. In his view it was, first of all, an obstacle to his mission. He and 400 men had to cross the broad river, which was constantly patrolled by hostile natives. After about one month, and the construction of several floats, they finally crossed the Mississippi at or near Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers....

 and continued their travels westward through modern-day Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. They wintered in Autiamique, on the Arkansas River
Arkansas River
The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. The Arkansas generally flows to the east and southeast as it traverses the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The river's initial basin starts in the Western United States in Colorado, specifically the Arkansas...

.

In 1541, the expedition became the first Europeans to see what Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 referred to as the Valley of the Vapors, now called Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hot Springs is the 10th most populous city in the U.S. state of Arkansas, the county seat of Garland County, and the principal city of the Hot Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area encompassing all of Garland County...

. Members of many tribes had gathered at the valley over many years to enjoy the healing properties of the thermal springs. The tribes had developed agreements to put aside their weapons and partake of the healing waters in peace while in the valley. De Soto and his men stayed just long enough to claim the area for Spain.

After a harsh winter, the Spanish expedition decamped and moved on more erratically. Their interpreter Juan Ortiz had died, making it more difficult for them to get directions and food sources, and generally to communicate with the Natives. The expedition went as far inward as the Caddo River
Caddo River
The Caddo River is a tributary of the Ouachita River in the U.S. state of Arkansas. The river is about long altogther.-Course:The Caddo River flows out of the Ouachita Mountains through Montgomery, Pike, and Clark counties in Arkansas before flowing into DeGray Lake and then to its terminus at the...

, where they clashed with a militant Native American tribe called the Tula
Tula tribe
The Tula were a Native American tribe that lived in what is now western Arkansas.-History:The Tula are known to history only from the chronicles of Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto's exploits in the interior of North America....

. The Spaniards characterized them as the most skilled and dangerous warriors they had encountered. This may have happened in the area of present-day Caddo Gap, Arkansas
Caddo Gap, Arkansas
Caddo Gap is a small unincorporated community in Montgomery County, Arkansas, United States. It lies between Glenwood and Norman on the Caddo River. It is best known as the area in which explorer Hernando de Soto and his forces clashed with the Tula tribe, a band loosely affiliated with the Caddo...

 (a monument stands in that community). Eventually, the Spaniards returned to the Mississippi River.

De Soto's death

De Soto died of a semitropical fever on May 21, 1542, in the native village of Guachoya (historical sources disagree as to whether de Soto died near present-day MacArthur, Arkansas or in Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

) on the western banks of the Mississippi. Before his death, de Soto chose his former maestro de campo
Maître de camp
Maître de camp was a rank in the Ancien Régime French army equivalent to Colonel. A maître de camp commanded a regiment. A regiment's commander was initially called a Colonel from the time of Francis I to that of Henry II, then a Mestre de camp from then until 1661, after which the name of the...

 (roughly, field commander) Luis de Moscoso Alvarado
Luis de Moscoso Alvarado
Luis de Moscoso Alvarado was a Spanish explorer and conquistador.- Expeditions with Pedro de Alvarado :Luis de Moscoso Alvarado was born in Badajoz, Spain in 1505...

 to assume command of the expedition.

Since de Soto had encouraged the local natives to believe that he was an immortal sun god (as a ploy to gain their submission without conflict), his men had to conceal his death. They hid his corpse in blankets weighted with sand and sank it in the middle of the Mississippi River during the night. Native Americans had already become skeptical of de Soto's deity claims. Another possible location for his death is near present-day Lake Village, Arkansas
Lake Village, Arkansas
Lake Village is a city in Chicot County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 2,823 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Chicot County.Lake Village is named for its location on Lake Chicot, an oxbow lake formed from the Mississippi River...

.

Return of the expedition to Mexico City

De Soto's expedition had explored La Florida for three years without finding the expected treasures or a hospitable site for colonization efforts. They had lost nearly half their men, most of the horses had been killed, the soldiers wore animal skins for clothing, and many were injured and in poor health. The leaders came to a consensus (although not total) to abort the expedition and try to find a way home, either down the Mississippi River, or overland across Texas to the Spanish colony of Mexico City.

They decided that building boats would be too difficult and time–consuming, and that navigating the Gulf of Mexico too risky, so they headed overland to the southwest. Eventually they reached a region in present-day Texas that was dry. The native populations had thinned out to subsistence hunter-gatherers. There were no villages for the soldiers to raid for food and the army was too large to live off the land. They were forced to backtrack to the more developed agricultural regions along the Mississippi. They began building seven bergantínes, or brigantine
Brigantine
In sailing, a brigantine or hermaphrodite brig is a vessel with two masts, only the forward of which is square rigged.-Origins of the term:...

s. They melted down all the iron, including horse tackle and slave shackles, to make nails for the boats. Winter came and went, and the spring floods delayed them another two months, but by July they set off down the Mississippi for the coast.

Taking about two weeks to make the journey, the expedition encountered hostile tribes along the whole course. Natives followed the boats in canoes, shooting arrows at the soldiers for days on end as they drifted through their territory. The Spanish had no effective offensive weapons on the water, as their crossbows had long ceased working. They relied on armor and sleeping mats to block the arrows. About 11 Spaniards were killed along this stretch and many more wounded.

On reaching the mouth of the Mississippi, they stayed close to the Gulf shore heading south and west. After about 50 days, they made it to the Pánuco River
Pánuco River
The Pánuco River is a river in Mexico that flows from the River Moctezuma in the Valley of Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico.At its source, it serves as a channel for water-drainage for Mexico City. From there, it becomes the state border between Hidalgo and Querétaro as it moves towards San Luis...

 and the Spanish frontier town of Pánuco. There they rested for about a month. During this time many of the Spaniards, having safely returned and reflecting on their accomplishments, decided they had left La Florida too soon, leading to fights and some deaths. But, after they reached Mexico City and Viceroy Don Antonio de Mendoza offered to lead another expedition to La Florida, few of the survivors volunteered. Out of the initial 700 participants, somewhere between 300 and 350 survived (311 is a commonly accepted figure.) Most of the men stayed in the New World, settling in Mexico, Peru, Cuba and other Spanish colonies.

Effects of expedition in North America

From the point of view of the Spanish, de Soto's excursion to Florida was a failure. They acquired neither gold nor prosperity and founded no colonies. But, the expedition had several major consequences.

It began the process of the Columbian Exchange
Columbian Exchange
The Columbian Exchange was a dramatically widespread exchange of animals, plants, culture, human populations , communicable disease, and ideas between the Eastern and Western hemispheres . It was one of the most significant events concerning ecology, agriculture, and culture in all of human history...

. For instance, some of the swine
Domestic pig
The domestic pig is a domesticated animal that traces its ancestry to the wild boar, and is considered a subspecies of the wild boar or a distinct species in its own right. It is likely the wild boar was domesticated as early as 13,000 BC in the Tigris River basin...

 brought by de Soto escaped and became the ancestors of razorback
Razorback
Razorback is an Americanism, loosely applied to any type of feral pig or wild boar in North America. The term has also appeared in Australia, to describe said animals in that country.-Introduction to the Americas:...

 pigs in the southeastern United States
Southeastern United States
The Southeastern United States, colloquially referred to as the Southeast, is the eastern portion of the Southern United States. It is one of the most populous regions in the United States of America....

.

De Soto was instrumental in contributing to the development of a hostile relationship between many Native American tribes and Europeans. When his expedition encountered hostile Natives in the new lands, more times than not, his men instigated the clashes.

More devastating than the battles, were the diseases carried by the members of the expedition. Because they lacked immunity to Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

n diseases, the indigenous people suffered epidemics of illness after contracting infectious diseases, such as measles
Measles
Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Morbilliviruses, like other paramyxoviruses, are enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA viruses...

, smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 and chicken pox. Several areas which the expedition crossed became depopulated by disease caused by contact with the Europeans. Many natives fled the populated areas which had been struck by the illnesses and went toward the surrounding hills and swamps. In some areas, the social structure changed because of population losses due to epidemics.

The records of the expedition contributed greatly to European knowledge about the geography, biology and ethnology
Ethnology
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.-Scientific discipline:Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct...

 of the New World. The de Soto expedition's descriptions of North American natives are the earliest-known source of information about the societies in the Southeast. They are the only European description of North American native habits before the natives encountered other Europeans. De Soto's men were both the first and nearly the last Europeans to witness the Mississippian culture
Mississippian culture
The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American culture that flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from approximately 800 CE to 1500 CE, varying regionally....

.

De Soto's expedition led the Spanish crown to reconsider Spain's attitude toward the colonies north of Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. He claimed large parts of North America for Spain. The Spanish concentrated their missions in the state of Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 and along the Pacific coast.

Namesakes

Many parks, towns, counties, and institutions have been named after Hernando de Soto, to include:
  • DeSoto State Park
    DeSoto State Park
    DeSoto State Park is located in northeast Alabama, near Fort Payne. Named after Hernando de Soto, it was developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps after the Great Depression. The park's natural scenery includes more than of forest, rivers, waterfalls, and beautiful mountain terrain...

    , Alabama
    Alabama
    Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

  • De Soto County, Florida
  • Hernando County, Florida
    Hernando County, Florida
    Hernando County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. As of 2000, the population was 130,802. The U.S. Census Bureau 2006 estimate for the county is 165,409 . Its county seat is Brooksville, Florida. The majority of the county's population is in Spring Hill, west portion of Hernando...

  • Fort De Soto Park
    Fort De Soto Park
    Fort De Soto Park is located just outside the city of St. Petersburg, Florida. This park, operated by Pinellas County, is made up from five offshore keys, or islands lying to the city's south-southwest: Madelaine Key, St. Jean Key, St. Christopher Key, Bonne Fortune Key and the main island, Mullet...

     in St. Petersburg, Florida
    St. Petersburg, Florida
    St. Petersburg is a city in Pinellas County, Florida, United States. It is known as a vacation destination for both American and foreign tourists. As of 2008, the population estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau is 245,314, making St...

  • De Soto Parish, Louisiana
    De Soto Parish, Louisiana
    -Demographics:As of the census of 2010, there were 26,656 people, 9,691 households, and 6,967 families residing in the parish. The population density was 29 people per square mile . There were 11,204 housing units at an average density of 13 per square mile...

  • De Soto County, Mississippi and Hernando
    Hernando, Mississippi
    Hernando is a city in central DeSoto County, Mississippi. The population was 6,812 at the 2000 census. The 2006 census estimate reflects a population of 10,580. Hernando is the county seat of DeSoto County, the second-most-populous county in the Memphis metropolitan area. US Hwy 51 and the I-55...

     its the county seat.
  • DeSoto, Missouri
  • The De Soto National Memorial
    De Soto National Memorial
    De Soto National Memorial, 5 miles west of Bradenton, Florida, commemorates the 1539 landing of Hernando de Soto and the first extensive organized exploration by Europeans of what is now the southern United States.-De Soto expedition:...

     in Bradenton, Florida
    Bradenton, Florida
    Bradenton is a city in Manatee County, Florida, United States. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's 2007 population to be 53,471. Bradenton is the largest Principal City of the Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a 2007 estimated population of 682,833...

     marks the possible location of "Espiritu Santo", the point of disembarkation for the expedition.
  • The De Soto School, a private school in Helena, Arkansas
    Helena, Arkansas
    Helena is the eastern portion of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, a city in Phillips County, Arkansas. As of the 2000 census, this portion of the city population was 6,323. Helena was the county seat of Phillips County until January 1, 2006, when it merged its government and city limits with...

    .
  • The DeSoto automobile line
    DeSoto (automobile)
    The DeSoto was a brand of automobile based in the United States, manufactured and marketed by the Chrysler Corporation from 1928 to 1961. The DeSoto logo featured a stylized image of Hernando de Soto...

     developed by the Chrysler Corporation.
  • Hernando de Soto Bridge
    Hernando de Soto Bridge
    The Panda Bridge is a through arch bridge carrying Interstate 40 across the Mississippi River between West Memphis, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee...

    , which carries Interstate 40
    Interstate 40
    Interstate 40 is the third-longest major east–west Interstate Highway in the United States, after I-90 and I-80. Its western end is at Interstate 15 in Barstow, California; its eastern end is at a concurrency of U.S. Route 117 and North Carolina Highway 132 in Wilmington, North Carolina...

     across the Mississippi River
    Mississippi River
    The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

     at Memphis, Tennessee
    Memphis, Tennessee
    Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers....

    .

Sites visited by the de Soto expedition


Further reading

  • Clayton, Lawrence A. Clayton, Vernon J. Knight and Edward C. Moore (Editor): The de Soto Chronicles: The Expedition of Hernando de Soto to North America in 1539-1543; University of Alabama
    University of Alabama
    The University of Alabama is a public coeducational university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States....

     Press 1996. ISBN 0-8173-0824-5
  • Duncan, David Ewing
    David Ewing Duncan
    David Ewing Duncan is an American journalist, author and broadcaster with a special emphasis on new discoveries and their implications in biotechnology and the life sciences; he also reports on the environment and on green technologies...

    : Hernando de Soto: A Savage Quest in the Americas; University of Oklahoma Press 1997. ISBN 0-517-58222-8
  • Hudson, Charles M.
    Charles M. Hudson (author)
    Charles M. Hudson is the Franklin Professor of Anthropology and History Emeritus at the University of Georgia, and is one of the foremost authorities on the history and culture of the Indians of the U.S. Southeast.-Degrees:Charles Melvin Hudson Jr....

    , Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun: Hernando De Soto and the South's Ancient Chiefdoms, University of the Georgia Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8203-1888-4
  • Albert, Steve: Looking Back......Natural Steps; Pinnacle Mountain Community Post 1991.
  • Henker, Fred O., M.D. Natural Steps, Arkansas, Arkansas History Commission 1999.
  • Jennings, John. (1959) The Golden Eagle. Dell.
  • MacQuarie, Kim. (2007) The last days of the Incas. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-6049-X ISBN 978-0-7432-6049-7
  • Maura, Juan Francisco. Españolas de ultramar. Valencia: Universidad de Valencia, 2005.


External links

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