Hernando de Soto (1496 - 1542) was a Spanish conquistador and explorer that is today best remembered for his exploration of Florida and landmass ofsoutheasternUnited States. During his exploration of North America (them believed to be Eastern Asia), he encountered the river Mississippi, becoming the first European who crossed it.
De Soto was born in either Barcarrota or Badajoz, in Extremadura, Spain as a son of the middle class family of hidalgos (Spanish nobility). After his initial education that lasted to his age of 14, he joined the military. Several years later Spanish finished their long lasting conflict against the Moors and the Islamic lands in Iberian Peninsula, and majority of Spanish youth and military personel set their sights on exploring, claiming the newfound lands and finding glory in New Indies, which were discovered several decades ago.
In 1514, at the age of 18, De Soto boarded the ship and sailed to the west with first Governor of Panama, PedrariasDávila. During the several next years he took part in several important exploratory missions in both North and South America. Between his arrival and 1530 he explored the South America (Panama) where he received his first command over ship, charted the waters around Nicaragua with Francisco de Cordoba, and was engaged in profitable slave trade between Africa and Nicaragua.
In 1530, Hernando de Soto was recruited by famous explorer and conquistador Francisco Pizarro in his mission to Peru. During that journey, Pizarro and De Soto invaded the Incan empire, captured emperor of the IncasAtahuallpa and killed several thousand of his people in search for gold. Their atrocities in the end paid off when Emperor Atahuallpa offered his ransom - enough gold to fill the space of his 22 foot prison room, from bottom to as high he could reach. Sadly after collecting their gold, they strangled the last Incan ruler and went to establish the city of Lima, which was later on used as a staging point in destruction of Incan capitol Cusco.
After the conquest of Incas , Hernando De Soto returned to Spain carrying his share of gold and brining news of his and Francisco Pizarro's successful mission. As a result of his newfound riches and honors, he settled in Seville, married Ines de Bobadilla, and started preparing the plans for his next mission to the West Indies. After gathering the force of 10 ships, and 950 soldiers, he left the Spain on April 6, 1538 and after serving a year in Cuba as a governor he finally reached the lands of Florida in May of 1539. He explored the lands of Florida and South East America for four years, searching the gold and violently exterminating any opposition from the local natives.
His life came to end on May 21, 1542 after being sick from fever. He was buried at the bank of the river Mississippi.
|Name||Hernando de Soto|
|Born||October 27, 1496 or 1498|
|Place of Birth||Jerez de los Caballeros, Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain|
|Died||May 21, 1542|
|Place of Death||Bank of Mississippi River, Present day Ferriday, Louisiana|
|Category (Occupation/Profession)||Explorer and conquistador|
|Known For||First documented European to have crossed the Mississippi River|
|Spouse(s)||Isabel De Rupodio|
|Expedition Partner(s)||Pedrarias Dávila, Gaspar de Espinosa, Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba|