Hernando De Soto – Spanish explorer
Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer and conquistador with the title of admiral who led the first conquest expedition in Europe to the north of Mexico, into the territory of the modern United States. He was the first European to cross the Mississippi River and leave documentary evidence.
Hernando de Soto was born in 1498 in Extremadura or Andalusia. Two cities – Badajoz and Barcarrota claim that he was born there. It is known that he spent his childhood in both places.
In 1514 de Soto sailed to the New World together with the first governor of Panama, Pedrarias Davila. Later Hernando married his daughter. In Central America, he became known as an excellent rider, fighter and tactician, but was also known for his cruelty. In 1530, de Soto became the ruler of Leon in Nicaragua. He led an expedition to the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in order to find a passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to trade with the East, the richest market in the world. After the failure of the expedition and Davila’s death, he left his estate in Nicaragua. He hired vessels, and brought his men in Tumbes.
In 1531 he took part in Francisco Pizarro’s campaign against the Incas. De Soto became one of Pizarro’s captains.
Pizarro and his men went to Cuzco, the capital of the Inca Empire. In Cuzco Spaniards found a lot of gold and silver.
In 1534 de Soto was vice-governor of Cuzco and Pizarro built his new capital (Lima) on the coast.
In 1536 de Soto returned to Spain. A year later, the conquistador was appointed governor of Cuba and went to North America.
On May 30, 1539 he landed on the shores of Florida and on May 8, 1541 he became the first European to see the Mississippi River, which he called the Rio del Spirito Santo. They crossed the river on June 10 and continued west into Arkansas.
Hernando de Soto died of fever on May 21, 1542 in Louisiana. His body was dropped into the Mississippi River.
His companions returned to Mexico in September 1543.
A bridge that connects the states of Arkansas and Tennessee was named after de Soto.
American car brand DeSoto, which existed from 1928 to 1961, was named in honor of the conquistador.