A Tide Unchecked
The stories told by Cabeza de Vaca and the other survivors of the ill-fated Narváez expedition led to dreams of souls to be saved and wealth to be taken. Their embellished tales spread from Mexico across the ocean. In August 1537, Cabeza de Vaca himself arrived in Portugal and then went on to Spain, where he continued to tell stories of La Florida and his extraordinary journey. In 1538, one of the chroniclers of the de Soto expedition noted that Cabeza de Vaca, while at the Spanish court in Seville, led people "to understand that it [La Florida] was the richest country in the world."1De Soto, in Seville, tried to enlist Cabeza de Vaca in his planned expedition to La Florida, but failed.
Cabeza de Vaca's stories must have been colorful. Among the people signing on or investing in de Soto's La Florida expedition were some of his relatives. A few people even sold property to finance their participation.2
De Soto, like Pánfilo de Narváez, was a veteran of Spain's conquests in the Americas. He was a successful conquistador who had participated in campaigns in Central America, gaining fame and wealth from the slave trade and mercenary activities. He also had served the Pizarro