In his account of the Soto expedition, “The Inca” [see Part 1] gives what I believe to be the most accurate and eloquent account of the attitudes of the Spaniards towards the Indians, and the Indians towards the Spaniards I have ever read. So, this week, I want to simply quote his articulate description of those attitudes. Note: the Inca’s reference to “Acuera” does not agree with other chroniclers. However, it was most likely the chief of the “Timucua” Indians that Soto was trying to befriend.
Inspired by the stories of Cabeza de Vaca, who had survived in North America after becoming a castaway and just returned to Spain, in 1540, Hernando de Soto petitioned the King of Spain and was appointed governor of Cuba and granted the right to explore and colonize North America [refer to Part 1]. Cabeza de Vaca had originally gone to Florida with Panfilo de Narvaez in 1527. The King of Spain had granted Narvaez the right to explore and colonize Florida and de Vaca was his second in command.
In 1537, after amassing a sizable fortune as a conquistador, slave trader, and business man in South America, Hernando de Soto quickly grew bored of civilian life in Spain and acquired permission from King Charles I of Spain to conquer, colonize, (and plunder) what was then known as Florida and, in addition was made governor of Cuba. [see Part 1]
This is part of a series of articles by Courtney Miller on the subject of “First Contact”–the initial contact of the Native Americans with the Europeans. “The Soto Expedition” delves into Hernando de Soto’s commission from King Charles I of Spain to “conquer and colonize” Florida.
Hernando de Soto, grew up poor in the impoverished Extremadura region of southwestern Spain and dreamed of travelling to the New World to make a fortune. Around the age of 14, de Soto managed to join an expedition to the West Indies led by Pedro Arias Dávila where he earned a fortune from Dávila’s conquest of Panama and Nicaragua. Sixteen years later, he was the leading slave trader and one of the richest men in Nicaragua.