The Hernando de Soto Expedition: History, Historiography, and "Discovery" in the Southeast

By Patricia Galloway | Go to book overview
pared to return to Spain. In August 1535 he departed from Lima, the new capital city founded by Pizarro on 5 January of that year, and by the spring of 1536 he had reached Spain.91Once in the homeland, Soto asked the Crown to grant him either the governorship of Quito or that of Guatemala. Neither of these was forthcoming. He also requested the title of adelantado and sought membership in the Order of Santiago. Actually, it made no difference to Soto what area might be given to him to govern. He simply hungered for further adventure in the Indies; he missed the excitement of exploration and conquest.92 While waiting for the Crown's decision concerning his requests, Soto in 1536 married Pedrarias's daughter, doña Isabel de Bobadilla, in Valladolid. Because he was quite wealthy, possessing over 100,000 pesos from his adventure in Peru alone, and due to his unquestioned bravery and credentials, Soto in April 1537 at last was named governor of Cuba, received the title of adelantado, and was made a member of the Order of Santiago. Significantly, he was also granted permission to conquer "Florida."93 Accompanied by his new wife, Soto returned to the New World to prepare for his next expedition.The supreme irony of Hernando de Soto's life and career was about to be fulfilled. In his early forties, Soto had already achieved an enviable record. An adventurous, ambitious, volatile, and, in many ways, cruel man, Soto lived in a world where many viewed such qualities as assets. In Panama and Nicaragua as a youth and young man, he proved to be a survivor and an opportunist. In Peru he participated in the most important stages of a conquest that remains "the most astonishing military feat in history."94 He was indispensable to Pizarro's undertaking, indeed was the dominant player to a large extent. Yet ultimately he would be remembered not for these deeds but for a failed expedition which led to his death near the Mississippi River.
Notes
1. James Lockhart, The Men of Cajamarca: A Social and Biographical Study of the First Conquerors of Peru ( Austin: University of Texas Press, 1972), 192; John H. Parry and Robert G. Keith, eds., New Iberian World: A Documentary History of the Discovery and Settlement of Latin America to the Early Seventeenth Century, 5 vols. ( New York: Times Books, 1984], 3:49. This massive work is a valuable, indispensable source of reference for any investigator of Latin American history from discovery until the early 1600s.
2. Parry and Keith, New Iberian World, 3:5.
3. Parry and Keith, New Iberian World, 3:5-6.
4. Parry and Keith, New Iberian World, 3:5-6; many other specialists give the date of discovery as 25 September 1513. See, for example, John Hemming The Conquest of the Incas ( New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970),23. Parry and Keith based their date

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