Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who, while leading the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States, was the first European to discover the Mississippi River. A vast undertaking, de Soto's expedition ranged throughout the southeastern United States searching more>>
for gold and a passage to China. The age of the Conquerors came on the heels of the Spanish reconquest of the Iberian peninsula from Islamic forces. Spain and Portugal were filled with young men begging for a chance to find military fame after the Moors were defeated. With discovery of new lands to the west more>>
(which seemed at the time to be East Asia), the whispers of glory and wealth were too compelling for the poor. De Soto sailed to the New World in 1514 with the first Governor of Panama, Pedrarias Davila. Brave leadership, unwavering loyalty, and clever schemes for the extortion of native villages for their captured chiefs more>>
became de Soto's hallmark during the Conquest of Central America. He gained fame as an excellent horseman, fighter, and tactician, but was notorious for the brutality with which he wielded these gifts. more>>
The records of the expedition contributed in large part to geographic, biological, and ethnological knowledge in Europe. The de Soto expedition's descriptions of the North American natives are the earliest known source of knowledge on the societies in the southeastern North Americas. more>>
They are, in fact, the only European description of North American native habits before the natives encountered other Europeans. De Soto's men were, at the same time, the first and nearly last Europeans to experience the Mississippian culture. De Soto's expedition also led the Spanish crown to reconsider more>>
Spain's attitude towards its colonies north of Mexico. He created a claim on large parts of the North Americas for the Spaniards, with their missions concentrated mainly on the state of Florida and the Pacific coast. Join the spirit of adventure and explore the New World through the eyes of this infamous Conquistador. more>>
When you bring de Soto to your classroom or event, you will find out more about this little known adventurer than you imagined, and view the intrepid expeditions through new eyes. Breathe new life into your understanding of history today and reserve this Conquistador for your next adventure!