April 9, 1522

Hola Diary!

I am Hernando de Soto and 21 years old. Born in Spain in the province of Extremadura, I attended the University of Salamanca. Because I needed to earn money, I became a soldier in Central America. My real goal, however, was to become rich. As a soldier my job was to try to calm down the natives who were angry about the presence of Spaniards. Soldiering did not make me rich, but I supplemented my income by gambling for extra money. Sometimes I was paid in gold and sometimes in slaves. Because of this, I have many slaves whom I have sent to my parents. I am now preparing to fight a native chieftain, Urraca. He had been planning a guerrilla attack on the Spanish soldiers of Panama. There is a small Spanish army in Panama led by Gaspar de Espinosa, but it will not be enough to fight them off. I am being led by my commander Francisco Pizarro. I hope this expedition, in some way, brings me great wealth!

September 22, 1526

Hola Diary!

Pizarro and I were successful in driving Urraca into the mountains. We became instant heros! Though I did not acquire as much wealth as I had hoped for it was enough for now. In the past couple of years I have been put in a difficult situation, but it has now been taken care of. A power-struggle between my lovely wife’s father, Pedrarias, and Hernandez de Cordoba has resulted in my loyalty to Pedrarias. At first, I merely supported him because he was family. I am glad of it now! Just a month ago Cordoba was executed for treason and I have already been rewarded for my loyalty by Pedrarias. I have been given money and glory, and just yesterday I partnered up with Francisco Companon and Hernan Ponce de Leon. We have been very successful in the business of native slave trading! By doing this I might reach my goal yet: being rich!

March 29,1531

Hola Diary!

What an exciting few days! I have met with my old commander Francisco Pizarro in Panama! He is here to gain support for his exploration against the native peoples of South America’s Andes Mountains. He needed ships, men, and supplies, and Ponce de Leon and I have agreed to provide all of those things for him! Together, Ponce de Leon and I have supplied him with about 200 men! I have also agreed to come along on the expedition as a scout! We are set to leave in thirty days and I cannot wait for this adventure since this is my third time to go to South America. The second time, I turned back quickly because of lack of supplies and men. However, I left something very valuable behind; I spread the disease of Small Pox. Hopefully this will provide support for our small Spanish force by diminishing their numbers!

November 14, 1532

Hola Diary!

It has been a long two years. This is what happened. We reached the Andes Mountains and met the Incas, who are spread throughout South America. Pizarro then met a local chieftain who informed him that the capital, Cuzco, held gold and riches. There were many men in our army, including Ponce de Leon, who did not believe him; they left to return home. I was also disappointed in Pizarro’s leadership. He had promised me the rank of lieutenant governor in Peru, but his brother, Hernando Pizarro, had already been given that position. To keep me from leaving or taking over the army, Pizarro gave me his other brothers, Juan and Gonzalo to join my unit. Pizarro created units so that our 168 soldier army could explore the area more efficiently. My unit traveled for a long time before I finally met an Inca tax collector in Caxas where an Inca army was located. The man informed me that the Spanish were unwelcome in Peru. Although I knew we were not welcome, I decided to keep going anyway. What is the most exiting news? The leader of the Incas, Atahualpa, has requested a meeting with me! I have turned him down and have gone back to tell Pizarro of these new developments. He, too, is very excited; we now know that Atahualpa is in Caxamarca. We plan to take the whole army with us to meet him tomorrow! I hope all goes well.

March 17 1535

Hola Diary!

I am now going home a wealthy man! My dreams of acquiring wealth have come true. The last three years have been monumental, as I have faced some of the hardest trials. We met with Atahualpa as planned, even though we believed he wanted to ambush us. We were amazed to learn that he had 50,000 soldiers under his command. Pizarro sensed that Atahualpa was up to something, so he changed the place of the meeting to our own barracks. He arrived with numerous soldiers who were well armed for protection. There was tension immediately as Father Vincent Valverde and he disagreed over Christianity. A fight broke out between his warriors and our soldiers. The result was that eventually, Atahualpa became our hostage. Strangely enough, however, we became friendly with Atahualpa having taught him chess and a little Spanish (I had already astounded Atahualpa with my horsemanship). Eventually, Atahualpa offered a two rooms of silver and one with gold for his freedom. Incas from places all over South America came to fill the rooms. At one point, I went to check on the progress and met Huascar, the deposed ruler, and took him back to Caxamarca with me. He and Atahualpa were enemies, and Atahualpa had Huascar murdered. Our army were split as to what punishment Atahualpa should receive. Half believed he should be burned alive and others thought he should be brought back to Spain for judgement by the King. Valverde intervened saying he had been baptized a Christian and should have the opportunity of being strangled or burned to death. He chose the former. Meanwhile, all the gold and silver was being melted down and all our men were given a fair share, making us all very rich. At last, I am returning home, a rich man!

May 15, 1539

Hola Diary!

Now, as dawn breaks, it is dwindling down towards my days before my adventures to the unexplored lands of La Florida, for we have had possession for a number of years now yet never explored the land in great depths like I hope to do. I find that I am well equipped and suitable for this situation, and I believe so does Spain’s beloved king, King Charles V (I), for he has just now appointed myself as the governor of Cuba and granted me permission to explore La Florida. I am ready to conquer any challenges and hindrances that possibly lie ahead of me and my eager men. If I can conquer the Incan Empire and strike wealthy, then I can accomplish great things.
Through my explorations I hope to encounter many things, gold would be a pleasure and maybe ever conquering a native empire. However, I ponder if my boats (nine to be exact) and group of 1,000 eager volunteering men from Spain and Cuba and Portugal and all over are prepared to accept and conquer this challenge. Though they are equipped with their personal guns and armor, numerous horses and clothes some even their wives, I do not know if the mental preparation has developed yet. I am a bit nervous but with the organization and energy that my men and I boast anything is possible.

March 7, 1540

Hola Diary!

After the first day and landing at what I like to call Espiritu Santo and naming possession of this country, we have been on this unexplored land for several months now, and my men and I have been fruitless in the search for our desire of silver and gold but I will not give up. Our boats have been sent back to Cuba due to the fact that I am still positive that we will be striking fortune. After spending the winter months at the capital of Apalachen; Anhaica, and thriving off of corn and natural crops of the land, we are refreshed and ready to move on with our journey.
My men and I have progressed and moved onwards, traveling northeast “towards the sun’s rising” for that is where we have heard our fortune can be found. This land we were told by an Indian boy, Perico that it was located on another sea. After encountering many aggressive and unpleasant natives through our exploration, we have stumbled upon a friendly native who was willing to give us anything we desired, yet still no gold. We had even rescued Ortiz; a Spaniard who was a member of the previous expedition led by Panfilo de Narvaez, who we could now use a translator. Hopefully, these encounters would bring some luck to our exploration.

October 20, 1540

Hola Diary!

Through the long, grueling hot months my men and I have been exploring, and only to encounter failure so far, and conflict with the natives. As we were traveling towards our ships, we encountered a group of natives who were located on the banks of a river in Mabila, we engaged in conflict, leading to a devastating thirty deaths of my honored men and one hundred and fifty wounded and the death of forty of our loyal horses. We were not going to give up without retaliation for this ambush.
We gathered together and attacked and burned the city causing damage on the natives under the Chief Tuscaloosa. Yet, due to the wounds that my men had acquired through this battle we stayed close by Mabila (for one moon-cycle) and healed the wounded and then headed out northwards. Though we won this conflict we do not have many of our possessions left over, for if I want to continue this exploration I cannot let my ships get word of our condition, therefore with the future of this expedition in mind I have concluded to lead my men away from the coast and ships and winter away from them until, my men and I regain our strength, and can continue the journey.

March 18, 1542

Hola Diary!

Now, after a long month of the construction of several floats we had completed it. During the month of May we had crossed four hundred of our men over the grand expanse of river and were able to continue the expedition, in which we kept traveling westward into vast and unknown land. At first, this seemed like a mighty hindrance and led to discouragement, but perseverance and wit led me and my men across the mighty river. We continued west, stopping in Antiamque along a river bank, where we endured a long and harsh winter. With the death of Ortiz that had plagued us the finding of food, direction and communication on the whole presented much more of a difficult duty. After winter passed, the expedition continued west and we encountered more natives who called themselves the Tula. They were by far the most skillful, dangerous and aggressive we had seen and we tried to stay as far as we could away without causing a disturbance. Many tribes gathered in this area for the peaceful hot springs, they were at peace with each other and we had stayed just long enough to claim this land for Spain. After, finding nothing of solid worth we turned back towards the grand and mighty river as what I decided to call the Mississippi River.

May 17, 1542

Hola Diary!

We eventually made it back to the Mississippi River with no gold, silver or empire to be found. My expedition was unsuccessful in encountering my goal and I have let down King Charles V of Spain who has funded my expedition, but we found many new lands some for Spain, and this mighty river. We are located now at the western banks of the Mississippi river at the Indian village of Guachoya. I gaze out at my men with only half remaining, a scarce amount of horses, animal skins for clothes and being overcome by poor health and injury. Including myself, I have found that over the past several days my health has been diminishing and I have become cold and shaky and I am nearing my death. I have pondered for many a time whose hands I shall place the rest of the expedition in. It is a crucial and important decision, for this person has to have skills like mine of organization and energy and intelligence to lead my men back home. Luis de Moscoso Alvarado one of my honored field officers, has stepped up and taken charge and in my opinion he deserves this title. But, I wonder about my men, and how they will keep my death sworn to secrecy, so the fellow natives do not find out that I have died, for we have told them I am a sun-god possessing unnatural powers in order to keep stability and peace. My men must keep my death a secret in order for peace to remain with themselves and the natives.

Work Cited

Axelson, Eric Congo to Cape: Early Portuguese Explorers London: Faber and Faber, 1973

Bourne, Edward G., ed. The Governor Don Hernando De Soto. Vol. I. New York City, N.Y.: ALLERTON BOOK Con.d.

Clayton, Lawrence A. "De Soto, Hernando." World Book Online Reference Center. 2008.  
http://www.worldbookonline.com/wb/Article?id=ar155920. (26 May 2008).

Gama, Capitão-Mór, Viceroy of India and Count of Vidigueira New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1950

Hart, Henry H. Sea Road to the Indies: An Account of the Voyages and Exploits of the Portuguese Navigators, Together with the Life and Times of Dom Vasco Da Prestage, Edgar The Portuguese Pioneers London: A. & C. Black LTD, 1933

Maynard, Theodore De Soto and the Conquistadores New York: Longmans, 1930 (E125.S7.M5)

Pennington, Piers.  The great explorers.  New York: Facts on File, 1979.

Stanley, Klos L., ed. Hernando De Soto. Carnegie, Penn.: Evisum Inc, 2006.

The Mariners Museum. Hernando de Soto; South America. http://www.mariner.org/exploration/index.php type=explorersectionid=232 (23 MAy 2008).

The Mariners Museum. Hernando de Soto; Florida. http://www.mariner.org/exploration/index.php type=explorersectionid=233 (MAy 23 2008).

The Mariners Museum. Hernando de Soto; Apalachen . http://www.mariner.org/exploration/index.php type=explorersectionid=234 (23 May 2008).

The Mariners Museum. Hernando de Soto; Cofitachequi. http://www.mariner.org/exploration/index.php type=explorersectionid=235 (23 May 2008).

The Mariners Museum. Hernando de Soto; Mabila. http://www.mariner.org/exploration/index.php type=explorersectionid=236 (23 May 2008).

The Mariners Museum. Hernando de Soto; Death. http://www.mariner.org/exploration/index.php type=explorersectionid=237 (23 May 2008).

Waldman, Carl, and Alan Wexler. "Soto, Hernando de." Encyclopedia of Exploration: The Explorers, volume 1. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE53&iPin=EEXI829&SingleRecord=True (May 26, 2008).

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