Barnard Shipp.

The history of Hernando de Soto and Florida; or, Record of the events of fifty-six years, from 1512 to 1568 online

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Online LibraryBarnard ShippThe history of Hernando de Soto and Florida; or, Record of the events of fifty-six years, from 1512 to 1568 → online text (page 26 of 75)
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V. Adventures of the Spaniards 467

VI. A Stratagem of the Indians, and the rashness of a

Spaniard 469

VII. The Return of the Indians to their Country, and the ar-
rival of the Spaniards at the Sea .... 471
VIII. The number of Leagues which the Spaniards travelled in

Florida, and a Fight with the Indians of the Coast . 472

IX. The Voyage of the Spaniards, and their Adventures . 473

X. The Adventure of two Caravels 475

XL Theysend to seek the General, and to Explore the Country 477

XII. The Spaniards know that they are in Mexico . . . 479

XIII. The Arrival of the Spaniards at Panuco, and their Dis-

sensions 480

XIV. The Arrival and Reception of the Spaniards at Mexico . 482
XV. Concerning some particulars of the Journey . . . 483

XVI. The Spaniards disband 484

XVII. What Maldonado and Arias did to get Information con-
cerning De Soto 484

XVIII. The Christians who have died in Florida .... 485







I DESIGN to write of the discovery of Florida and the memorable
deeds that have been done there. But as Hernando de Soto
performed great actions there, and as this relation particularly
concerns him, I shall commence his history from the beginning.
Soto was one of the twelve conquerors of Peru, and participated in
the capture of Atahualpa,* who was the last king of Peru. This
prince was the natural son of the Inca Huayna Capac, and had
usurped the kingdom from the legitimate heir, who was called
Huascar. But the cruelties of this usurper caused the people to
revolt against him, which facilitated to the Spaniards the conquest
of Peru, and procured them great riches. The fifth alone, for the
emperor, amounted to nearly two million three hundred thousand
ducats, and Hernando de Soto had more than a hundred thousand.f
This captain received, besides that, many presents from tlie In-
dians, and from Atahualpa himself, who gave him magnificent ones,
because he was the first Spaniard to whom he had spoken. When
Soto had thus enriched himself, he returned to Spain with seve-
ral others, who had all made fortunes at Caxa Malca. But in-

* Atabalipa in the French text.

t De Soto hrought from Peru to Spain one hundred and eighty thousand ducats.


stead of thinking of the acquisition of some great estate in his own
country, the remembrance of the glorious deeds which he had
achieved, inspired liim with a vast design. Therefore he went
to Valladolid to solicit Charles the Fifth to permit him to under-
take the conquest of Florida, and engaged to do it at his own
expense, and to do everything for the glory of the empire. What
most prompted him to this illustrious enterprise was seeing that he
had conquered nothing in his own right; that Hernando Cortes had
conquered Mexico; and Pizarro and Almegro, Peru. For, not
inferior to them, neither in valor nor in any other quality, he could
not endure that fortune should be more propitious to them than to
himself. He therefore renounced all his claims lipon Peru, and
turned all his thoughts upon the conquest of Florida, where he
died. It is thus, that great commanders have sacrificed themselves
for the interest of their sovereigns. Nevertheless, tliere are among
us, persons who maliciously saj', that Spain owes to the rashness of
some young fools, the greater part of the countries of the new
world. Bnt they do not reflect, that they themselves are the
children of Spain, and that this generous mother has not raised
those to whom she has given birth, but to conquer America and to
cany the terror of their arms into the rest of the earth.



Florida is so-called because it was discovered on Palm Sunday,
the 2'7th of March of the year 1513. But because it is a great
country, of which all the parts are neither conquered nor known, it
is difficult to describe them accurately. Jt is not known, in fact,
whether Florida is bounded on the north bj' the sea or by the land.
What is certain is, that it has the Gulf of Mexico and the Island of
Cuba to the south ; to the east, the ocean wliich faces Africa ; and
to the west, what is now called New Mexico. In this direction is
the province of the Seven Towns, wliich was so called by Vasquez
Coronado, who went, in 1539, to discover those regions. But as
tliey could not settle them, Antonio de Mendoca, who had sent him
there, lost with regret all tliat he had expended in this enterprise.




Juan Ponce de Leon was the first who discovered Florida. He
was a gentleman, born in the kingdom of Leon, and had been gov-
ernor of the island of Porto Rico. As the Spaniards then thought
only of making new discoveries, he equipped two caravels, and
endeavored by every means to discover the island of Bimini, on nc-
count of the report that there was there a fountain which restored
youth to old men. But after having searched in vain for this island,
a tempest cast him upon the coast which is opposite the north part
of Cuba ; and he named this continent Florida, and without consider-
ing whether it was an island or the mainland, he proceeded to Spain
to ask permission to conquer it, and obtained it. Wherefore, in the
year 1513, he equipped three vessels, and landed in the country
which he had discovered.* The Indians, on his arrival, forcibly re-
pulsed him, and slew nearly all his people, except seven wounded,
of which number he was, who fled to Cuba, where they all died of
their wounds. Such was the end of Ponce and iiis expedition. But
after him, it seemed, that all attempts upon Florida continued to be
fatal to those who made them. Some years after this misfortune,
the pilot Mirvelo, who commanded a caravel, going to traffic with the
savages, a storm drove him upon the coast of Florida, where he was
so favorably received, that he returned very well pleased to the is-
land of Saint Domingo. But he did not profit by this opportunity,
like a wise pilot, for he had not the precaution to take the latitude
of the places, and this neglect cost him dearly as will be seen.

At the same time seven of the richest men of Saint Domingo
formed a company, and sent two vessels to the islands of Florida,
in order to bring from them Indians to worfe in the mines which they
possessed in common. These vessels landed at the cape which was
named Saint Helena ; because thej' arrived there on tlie anniversary
of that saint. They passed thence to a river which they called the
Jourdain from the name of him who discovered it. The Spaniards
landed at this place, and the inhabitants of the country, who had
not yet seen ships, were led to consider them as supernatural things.
They were also astonished at the fashion of the attire of the stran-
gers, and at seeing men with beards. But that did not prevent them

* This was in 1521, and, as Garcllasso gives 1513 as the date of the discovery
of Florida, the above date in the text is evidently a misprint.


from receiving them kindly; for they gave them mai-ten skins, some
silver, and some seed pearls. The Spaniards made them presents
in return, and induced them, by their caresses, to visit the vessels.
The Indians, wlio trusted to these appearances of friendship, to the
number of one hundred and thirty, entered the ships. Our people
immediately weighed anchor, and went, with all sail, to Saint Do-
mingo But only one of the two vessels arrived at port, and also
they did not profit by their prize. These poor savages, in despair
at having been deceived, abandoned themselves to grief, and starved
themselves to death. This news having spread in Saint Domingo,
Vasquez Lucas d'Aillon went to Spain to- ask permission to conquer
Chicorie, one of the provinces of Florida, and the administration
of the country which he should subdue. The emperor* granted
to him what he desired, and in addition to this favor, conferred
upon him the order of San lago. Aillon,on his return to Saint
Domingo, equipped three vessels in 1524, and took Mirvelo to con-
duct him to the land where this pilot had been ; because it was be-
lieved to be the most fertile of all that had been discovered to that
time. But because Mirvelo no longer remembered the place where he
had first landed, he tried in vain to reach it, and he was so sensibly
affected by it that he lost both his reason and his life. Aillon did
not cease to go on, and even after the admiral ship was lost in
the Jourdain, he continued his voyage with his two remaining ves-
sels, and anchored near to Chicorie, on a very pleasant coast, where,
at first, he was very well received. So that, as he imagined it would
be very easy for him to conquer the country, he sent two hundred
men to reconnoitre it. The Indians, who concealed their evil de-
signs, conducted them into the interior of the country; and after
having manifested much friendship for them, they recalled the
treachery of the other Spaniards to them, and fell upon them and cut
them in pieces. Then they, came with fury upon Aillon and his
comrades, wiio had remained upon the vessels; tliey slew and
wounded many of them, and forced the rest to return qnickly to
Saint Domingo. The most important of those who escaped were
Aillon and a gentleman of Badajos, by whom I have heard narrated
the defeat which I have just related.(ii)

This misfortune did not deter Pamphile de Narbaez. He went
to Florida in 1529,* and took with him the young Mirvelo, the
nephew of him of whom I have spoken. But, tiiough lie had some
knowledge of the country, having been instructed by his uncle, lie
was not, however, more fortunate than he. Narbaez himself, in tiiis
voyage, perished with his people, excepting Alvar Nugnez, Cabeca

* The Emperor Charles V. f " Others say in 1528."


de "Vaca, and four of his companions, who returned to Spain, where
they obtained some public oflflces. But that did not succeed ; for
they died very miserably, and Alvar returned, a prisoner, to Valla-
dolid, where he ended his days. After those of whom I have just
spoken, Hernando de Soto undertook to invade Florida. He
arrived there in 1539, but finally he lost his fortune and his life
there. His death being known in Spain, many asked the govern-
ment of Florida, and permission to continue the discovery of it.
But Charles the Fifth would listen to no one upon the subject.
However, in 1549, he sent there Cancel Balbastro, a Dominican
monk, as the superior of those of his order, who should go to preach
the gospel to the inhabitants of Florida. This father, arrived in
these countries, began to catechise the natives ; but instead of lis-
tening to him, the Indians, who remembered the injuries they had
received from the Spaniards, slew him, and two of his companions.
The others, completely frightened, regained the vessels, and re-
turned in' haste to Spain, and said, as an excuse for their quick
return, that the barbarians had hardened hearts, and took no plea-
sure in hearing the word of God. Thirteen years afterwards the
government of Florida was promised to one of the sons of Aillon
if he would conquer it. But as he solicited his departure, and they
put off from one day to another the execution of his enterprise, he
died' of grief. Pedro Menendez and several others went afterwards
to Florida. Nevertheless, as I have not sufficient knowledge of
what they did there, I shall not speak of it.



The people of Florida are idolaters, and have the sun and moon
for divinities, which they adore without offering them either praj'ers
or sacrifices. However, they have temples, but they make use of
thetn only to inter those who die, and to shut up there their treas-
ures. They erect also at the- entrance of these temples, in the form
of a trophy, the spoils of their enemies.

These Indians espouse ordinarily but one wife, who is obliged to
remain faithful to her husband, under penalty of being punished
with a shameful chastisement, or sometimes With a cruel death.
But, by a privilege of the country, the great have permission to
have as many wives as they please. However, they have but one
legitimate wife. The others are but as concubines, so that the


children that spring from these last do not share eq.ually the estate
of the father with the children of his wife.

This custom is also observed in Peru, for, except the incas and
the caciques, who, in the quality of princes and lords, have as many
wives as tliej^ desire, or as thej' can support, it is not permitted to
tlie others to have more than one. These persons of rank say that
they are obliged to fight, and that it is necessary that they should
have many wives, in order to have many children who may share
their labors ; that the greater part of the nobles dying in battles, it
is necessary that thejr should have a great number of them ; and
tliat, as the multitude have no share in public affairs and are not
exposed to perils, there are always enougli people to labor and bear
the expenses of the government.

To return to the inhabitants of Florida. The3' have no cattle
and support no flocks. They eat instead of bread, corn ; and instead
of meat, fish and vegetables. However, as they are accustomed to
hunt, they often have game, for they kill with tlieir arrows harts,
roebucks, and deer, which they have in abundance, and larger than
those of Spain. They also catch many kinds of birds, which they
eat, and of which the plumage of different colors serves them to
deck their heads, and to distinguish during peace the nobles from
the people, and during war the soldiers from those who do not bear
arms. They drink only water; they eat their meat well cooked,
their fruit nearly ripe, their flsh well roasted, and ridicule the Span-
iards, who use them otherwise. So I cannot give faith to those
who report that these people eat human flesh. At least, I dare say
that it lias not happened in the provinces which Soto discovered;
and that, on the contrarj', they have an extreme horror of this
inhumanity; for, some Spaniards residing in a quarter where they
died Of hanger, and their companions eating them as they expired,
there was but the last who escaped it, at which the Indians were so
offended that they wished to go and slay the Spaniards who were
ill another place.

The people of Florida go almost naked ; they wear only a kind of
chamois or buckskin drawers. These drawers are of diverse colors,
and serve to cover what decency requires them to conceal. Their
cloak is a kind of cover which hangs from the neck to the middle of
the leg; it is ordinarily of fine marten- skills, and smells of a very
agreeable musk odor. They sometimes have them also of cat's,
deer, stag's, bear's, lion's, and even of cow's skins, which they pre-
pare so well that they can use it as cloth. As for their hair, they
wear it long, and tied on their heads. Their cap is a colored net-
work, which they attach to their forehead in such a manner that the


ends hang as far as below the ears. Their women are also clothed
with the skins-of deer or roebucks, and have all the body covered
in a decent and modest manner.(i2)

The Indians make use of all sorts of arms except the crossbow
and the musket. The}' believe that the bow and arrow give them
a particular grace, and for that reason they always carry them to
the chase and to the war. But as thej' have a very convenient
height, their bows are very long and large in proportion. They are
of oak ordinarily, or of some other wood of this sort ; it is for tliis
reason that they are difficult to bend, and there is no Spaniard who
can draw the cord to his face, whereas the Indians draw it even
behind the ear, and make astonishing shots. The cord of their bow
is of the skin of the stag, and this is how they make it : from tlie
skin of the stag they cut from the tail to the head a thong two
fingers in breadth. Then they take the hair from this thong, soak
it, twist it, and attach one end of it to the branch of a tree, and the
other to a weight of one hundred or one hundred and tvventy pounds,
and leave this skin until it becomes in the form of a large catgut.
Finally, in order not to wound the left arm with the cord when it is
discharged, they make use of a half armlet of large feathers, which
covers it from the wrist to the elbow, and which is secured with a'^
leather strap, with which they make several turns around the arm,
and thus they discharge the cord witli a force altogether remarkable.

These, in brief, are the customs of the inhabitants of Florida.
But as I iiave spoken also concisely of those who discovered it, and
as the enterprise of Soto upon this countrj' is more illustrious than
that of the others, I shall now relate at more length the things
which he did in these countries. I shall describe the provinces
which he discovered there, and tell tlie deeds of his soldiers to the
time when they left Florida and retired to Mexico.



SoTO obtained permission to conquer Florida and to erect a mar-
quisate, thirty leagues long by fifteen wide, in the country which he
should conquer. The emperor, who granted him this favor, gave
him also the government of St. lago de Cuba, in order to take in
this island wiiat should be necessary for his design, and appointed
him to be governor-general of Florida when he should conquer it.

This news spread through Spain, it was believed that Soto was
going to annex to the crown new kingdoms. As he was one of


those who had eonquerecl Peru, and as he employed in this last
enterprise all his fortune, they believed that it would greatly ex-
ceed the first, and that they would enrich themselves in following
his fortunes. This was the reason why persons of every degree
were attracted to this enterprise; and in the hope of acquiring
from it great wealth, thej' abandoned what was most dear to them,
and all presented themselves to accompany Soto. There joined
him, at the same time, seven gentlemen who had returned from the
conquest of Peru, and who had in view only the acquisition of
riches. As they were not contented with what they had, and the
desire to accumulate increased in them, they believed that they
would better satisfy their avarice in Florida than in Peru.

Soto, therefore, in virtue of his power, began to give his orders
for his vessels, and for everything which he needed. He chose per-
sons upon whom he could relieve himself of some of his cares ; he
raised troops and made captains and other officers. In the mean
time, they executed with so much despatch what he had com-
manded, that, in less than fifteen or sixteen months, everything was
ready and conducted to San Lucar de Barramede, so that the sol-
diers repaired there with great quantities of cordage, mattocks,
panniers, and other things necessary for their enterprise, and in
that manner they embarked.(i3)



There assembled for Florida, at San Lucar, more than nine hun-
dred Spaniards, all in the prime of life, because strength was re-
quired to support the fatigues of war, and to overcome the obstacles
that are met with in enterprises upon the countries of the new
world. However, as vigor alone did not suflSce, the general ordered
money to be distributed to the troops, having regard to the equi-
page and birth of those to whom it was given. Several officers who
were not equipped, received this favor ; others, who considered the
great expense which Soto was obliged to make, refused it, in the
belief that it would be more generous to employ their means fbi'
his service, than to be a burden to him.

When the weather was favorable for navigation, the troops em-
barked upon ten vessels, of which seven were large, and three
small. The general, with all his family, embarked upon the St.
Christopher, well provided with soldiers and materials. Nunez
Touar, lieutenant-general, with Carlos Henriquez, embarked upon


the Madelaine. Louis de Moscoso, colonel of cavalry, commanded
the ship Conception, which was of more than five hundred tons.
Andrez Vascoucelos was captain of the galleon Bonne Fortune, and
had a company of Portuguese gentlemen, some of whom had served
in Spain. Diego Garcia commanded the ship Saint Jean, and Arias
Tinoco that of Sainte Barbe. Alonzo Romo de Cai'denioso was
upon the galleon St. Antoine, and had with him Diego Arias Tinoco,
ensign colonel of the army. Pedro Calderon commanded a very fine
caravel, and had in his company Misser Espindola, captain of sixty
halberdiers of the general's guard. There were, besides these, two
brigantines, which were used for tenders, because they were lighter
than the ships. There also embarked upon these vessels, priests,
and some monks,* all men of exemplary probity. To this army was
joined, also, the fleet destined for Mexico, which consisted of twenty
ships. Soto was commander of it as far as the island of Cuba
(where it was necessary for this fleet to separate, in order to go to
Vera Cruz), and then he was to leave the command of it to Goncalo
de Salazar, the first Christian born in the town of Granada, after
the Moors had abandoned it (in 1492). Therefore, in consideration
of this quality, the Catholic sovereigns who conquered that place,
granted great privileges to this gentleman, and overwhelmed him
with their favors. These two fleets left San Lucar the sixth day of
April, of the year Qfteen hundred and thirty-eight, with everything
necessary, but especially there was nothing wanting to the troops
that were going to Florida.



The day that the fleet set sail, Soto, a little before night, ordered
Silvestre, in whom he confided, to visit the sentinels, with orders to
the captain of artillery to have the cannon ready, in order that
should any ship fail of its duty to fire thereupon. This was
immediately executed ; and about midnight a great confusion
happened. The sailors of Salazar's ship, wishing to show the speed
of their vessel, or to go at the head of the fleet with that of the
general, or rather having allowed themselves to be overcome by
sleep, and the pilot who then steered the vessel not' having a suffi-
cient knowledge of the rules which are observed in an armada, the
vessel went off a cannon-shot from the fleet, and gained the advance

* "Francisco de Pozo, Dionisio de Paris, Louis de Soto, Juan de Gallegos,
Francisco de Rooha, Juan de Torres."

246 HISTORY or floriba.

of Soto's ship, which was at the head. But as Silvestre, to whom
the general had given hi8 orders, was on the alert, and as he saw
the ship of Salazar, he awoke the captain of artillery, and asked
him if that vessel belonged to the fleet, and npon his reply -that it
had not the appearance of it, because the sailors who shonld thus
advance would deserve death, caused the ship to be fired npon.
The first shot broke the sails ; another carried away the gunnel,
and they heard those who were in the ship ask for quarter, crying
out that they belonged to the fleet. In the mean time the other
ships took to arms at the report of the cannon, and got ready to
lire upon this vessel, which, drifting with the wind because its sails
were torn, fell afoul of the admiral,* which was giving chase to it.
This misfortune was more vexatious than the other; some, in the
fear and the disorder in which they were, thought more of excusing
their fault than of managing their vessel ; otliers, on the contrary,
under the belief that the action of the people of Salazar was a
mark of contempt, breathed only vengeance, and did not mind
anj' method, nor how they sailed. Finally, however, when they
perceived that the two vessels were going to injure each other, they
made use of poles and pikes, and broke more than three hundred
of them to arrest the violence of the shock and save themselves
from danger. But they could not prevent the ships from entan-
gling their rigging and running the risk of being sunk. Not a ves-
sel succored them in this confusion. The pilot, aflTrighted, despaired
of extricating himself from the danger ; the night prevented them
from knowing what was necessary to be done ; the air resounded

Online LibraryBarnard ShippThe history of Hernando de Soto and Florida; or, Record of the events of fifty-six years, from 1512 to 1568 → online text (page 26 of 75)