Hernando De Soto

(c. 1500—1542)

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(c. 1500–42)

Spanish conquistador and explorer. De Soto took part in the conquest of Central America, before joining Francisco Pizzaro's expedition in Peru; he returned to Spain when the Inca King Atahualpa, whom he had befriended, was executed by Pizarro. De Soto was then made governor of Cuba by Emperor Charles V, with the right to conquer the mainland of America. He landed on the Florida coast in 1539 and reached North Carolina before crossing the Appalachian Mountains and returning through Tennessee and Alabama. In 1541 he led another expedition, crossing the Mississippi (which he was probably the first White man to see) and going up the Arkansas River into Oklahoma. They were seeking gold, silver, and other treasure, but returned disappointed. De Soto died on reaching the banks of the Mississippi.

Subjects: Warfare and Defence — History.

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