Thursday, January 29, 2015

First Contact: The Soto Expedition, Part 5: Arrogant and Proud Barbarians

Garcilasco de la Vega, "The Inca"
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.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

First Contact: The Soto Expedition, Part 4: Panfilo de Narvaez

Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca
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.
Panfilo de Narvaez

Thursday, January 15, 2015

First Contact: The Soto Expedition, Part 3: Ponce de Leon

Juan Ponce de Leon
Hernando de Soto was not the first to make contact with Native Americans in Florida.  As “The Inca” [Part 1] tells in his chronicles of the expedition, “The first Spaniard who discovered La Florida was Juan Ponce de Leon, a gentleman who was a native of Leon and a nobleman, having been governor of Puerto Rico.  Inasmuch as the Spaniards of that time thought of nothing except the discovery of new lands, he fitted out two caravels and went in search of an island they called Bimini or, according to others, Buyoca.  There, according to fabulous tales of the Indians, was a fountain that rejuvenated the aged.  He traveled in search of it for many days, lost, and without finding it.  At the end of this time he was driven by a storm on the coast to the north of Cuba, which coast he named Florida because of the day on which he saw it being Easter.”

Thursday, January 8, 2015

First Contact: The Soto Expedition, Part 2: Like Deer

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]

Friday, January 2, 2015

First Contact: The Soto Expedition, Part 1: Hernando de Soto

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
Hernando de Soto
Part 1: Hernando de Soto
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.