Timeline Description: Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who led several successful expeditions into both Central America and North America. He is responsible for the colonization of several Central American cities; and is considered the first European to cross the Mississippi River.
|October 21, 1496||Hernando de Soto is born in Extremadura, Spain.
Hernando de Soto is born in either Barcarrota or Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain. Both cities take credit for being his birthplace, and there are no records to confirm or deny either location. De Soto is born into poverty; a situation that may have motivated his need to explore new lands.
|1516||de Soto is given command of a small troop of men.
De Soto is appointed captain of a small troop of horseman, which was the first time he had been given command of other men. He was given the appointment after exhibiting great courage and motivation, traits which caught the eye of Pedrarias Davila, the governor of Darien.
|1523||de Soto embarks on an expedition through Nicaragua and Honduras.
De Soto accompanies Francisco Frenandez de Cardoba on an expedition through Nicaragua and Honduras. This marked de Soto's first real expedition and systematic colonization of new land.
|1530||de Soto is appointed regidor and leads an expedition up the Yucatan Peninsula.
De Soto is appointed to the position of regidor, which is a member of a council of municipalities, for the city of Leon, Nicaragua. He is chosen to lead an expedition up the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula searching for a passage between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Discovering such a passage would have enabled trade with the Orient. Unfortunately, the expedition failed.
|1532||de Soto is named second-in-command on an expedition to Peru.
De Soto joins the expedition of Francisco Pizzara with plans to explore and colonize Peru. De Soto is named Pizzara's second-in-command.
|1533||de Soto leads a scouting mission in Peru.
In response to rumors that an Incan army was advancing toward their location in Cajamarca, Peru, de Soto is sent on a scouting missing with 200 soldiers. The rumors turned out to be unfounded. While he is gone, however, his fellow Spaniards invade Cuzco, Peru.
|1534||de Soto is appointed lieutenant governor of Cuzco.
De Soto is appointed lieutenant governor of Cuzco, a position he holds for several years.
|1536||de Soto returns to Spain(Early 1536).
After being rejected for a position as second-in-command of a new expedition, de Soto decides to return to Spain. He does not return empty handed, however, as he has acquired much treasure during his expeditions.
|1537||de Soto marries and settles in Selville, Spain.
De Soto marries Ines de Bobadilla. The couple plan to settle in Selville, Spain; but de Soto's curiosity and need to explore prevent that for happening.
|April 6, 1538||de Soto returns to Central America.
De Soto's need to explore and conquer gets the best of him and he departs with a sizable crew back to Central America, landing in Havana, Cuba. He spends the majority of his initial time on the island preparing for an expedition to Florida.
|May 18, 1539||de Soto embarks on an expedition to Florida.
De Soto and his troops set sail for Florida, landing twelve days later at what is now Tampa Bay.
|March 1540||de Soto heads into Georgia.
De Soto leads his expedition into what is now Georgia.
|May 8, 1541||de Soto becomes the first European to cross the Mississippi River.
De Soto reaches the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tennessee. He is believed to have been the first European to cross the river.
|Late 1541||de Soto becomes the first European to arrive in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
De Soto becomes the first European to see the "Valley of Vapors," now known as Hot Springs, Arkansas. Prior to his arrival, the only people to inhabit this area were the Native Americans.
|May 21, 1542||de Soto dies after contracting a deadly fever.
De Soto dies at the age of 46 after contracting a deadly fever while exploring North America. His exact location at the time of his death cannot be confirmed; but it is believed that he was either in Louisiana or Arkansas.