Hernando De Soto was a famous Spanish explorer and conquistador best known for leading the first exploration deep into North American which included being the first known
European to have crossed the Mississippi River. This ruthless conquistador amassed a fortune by pillaging the peoples of the New World. On this page we list interesting facts
about Hernando De Soto. This information, written for kids and adults, includes what famous explorations he made, and where and how he died.
Hernando De Soto Early Life and Explorations
He was born in the current province of Badajoz, Spain around 1496 AD.
As young man he heard stories of voyages to new lands to the west and dreamed of traveling there in search of wealth and glory.
In 1514, at a very young age, De Soto sailed to the New World for the first time with Pedro Arias de Avila (known as Pedrarias) who was about to be named the first Governor of
In the 1520s, with Pedrarias's permission, De Soto explored Central America including modern Costa Rica and Honduras.
In 1524 Hernando De Soto took part in the conquest of Nicaragua. For his efforts he received an encomienda; which is official control over a certain number of native tribes.
In 1531 he assisted the famous explorer Francisco Pizarro in his conquest of Peru. In this conquest De Soto stood out as an important leader.
In 1536, now an extremely wealthy man, he sailed back to Spain where he married Isabella de Bobadilla. She was the daughter of Pedro Arias de Avila; the governor of Panama who
De Soto had first sailed to the New World with.
Facts about Hernando De Soto's Exploration of North America
Emperor Charles V of Spain made Hernando De Soto governor of Cuba as a reward for his part in the conquest of Peru. In 1538 he once again sailed from Spain to the new World;
this time to assume the governorship of Cuba.
In 1539 Hernando De Soto embarked from Cuba on a voyage to La Florida (modern-day southeastern United States), a region that had been previously explored by Ponce de Leon and
other explorers. There he had hoped to find advanced native civilizations with treasures he could plunder as he had done in Central America.
De Soto's fleet consisted of ten ships and several hundred sailors.
In May of 1539, after a stop in Cuba, De Soto landed at what is today Tampa Bay, Florida.
De Soto led his men inland through modern day Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, and then on to what is today Alabama. All the way searching for treasure they could
confiscate from the Native Americans.
De Soto led brutal attacks against the Native Americans he encountered as he searched for treasure including silver and gold.
Near present-day Mobile, Alabama the Spaniards engaged in a bloody battle with Native Americans. Both sides suffered numerous casualties.
After recovering from the battle with Indians in Alabama Hernando De Soto headed back North.
In 1541 he and his men spotted and crossed the Mississippi River and explored as far as modern day Arkansas and Louisiana. His exploration of North America never yielded the
great riches that he had stolen in Central America.
In the early part of 1542 Hernando De Soto and his men headed back towards Florida, upon reaching the Mississippi River he contracted a fever and died. His men laid him to rest
near the Mississippi River.
Luis de Moscoso took De Soto's place and led the Spaniards on rafts down the Mississippi River and into Mexico in 1543.