History & Culture
Hernando de Soto was born around 1500 in the Extermadura region of Spain. De Soto was the second born son to a minor country noble or Hidalgo. He would learn in his youth the skills of horsemanship, reading, writing, and armed combat, but due to the laws of inheritance he would have to look outside of his estate for wealth and glory. At the age of 14, Hernando de Soto would leave Extermadura for Seville and enlist in an expedition set for the New World. He would arrive in present day Panama at the colony of Darien founded by his childhood hero Alviar Nunez de Balboa. De Soto would serve Balboa and the governor Pedrarias Davila as soldier of horse, where he would quickly distinguish himself.
Pedrarias named El Furor Domini the scourge of God by his men would quickly strike out and eliminate many of his chief rivals within the colonial government, including Balboa his Son-in-Law. He would wage a brutal conquest over the native people of Central America conquering Panama and Nicaragua. De Soto would carefully navigate the time of political upheaval and executions and would rise to a position of prominence in the colonial government under Pedrarias. De Soto would game wealth and fame due to his partnerships with several men. Entering into a compania or partnership with Hernan Ponce de Leon, and Francisco Companon, De Soto would make a decent fortune ranching horses and trading and shipping Indian slaves.
A Chance for Immortality
Did You Know?
The size and speed of the horse was one of the primary advantages the Spanish conquistadors had over Native Americans. An accomplished cavalryman, Hernando de Soto brought over 200 horses as part of his 1539 conquest of La Florida. To Learn more, visit De Soto National Memorial, Bradenton, Florida. More...