Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer who is known as the first European to discover Mississippi river. He is also known for deep expedition inside the American continent in search of gold. He was born in Barcarrota in Spain in 1497 AD in an extremely poor family. He was influenced by the trips conducted by Magellan and Christopher Columbus.
Search for New World
De soto started his journey for New World in 1514 with the governor of Panama, Davila. He was known for his bravery, loyalty and diplomacy. He fought many battles with the natives and defeated many of them. He was also known for his brutuality and killing the battle prisoners and burning native villages.
Defeat of Inca Empire and Atahualpa, 1533
In 1530, he went to Peru in search of new territories for the Spanish king. He worked with Francisco Pizarro. In 1533 the Spanish forces defeated Inca Empire which was under the leadership of king Atahualpa. After returning back to Spain he was awarded 724 marks of gold and 17000 pesos. He was included in the order of Santiago. He married Isabel who belonged to the royal family.
Conquest of North America and Discovery of Mississippi River
The Spanish king gave de Soto authority to conquest North America. In May 1539 he landed on present day Shaw Point in Florida. He renamed it as ‘Spiritu Santu’ which means holy spirit. They came with huge amount of crew that included priests, engineers, farmers and merchants. They discovered various regions in the southeast US like Georgia, Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama. On the way, they were looting and burning native villages. They were in search of gold and other precious metals. On 8th May, 1541 they finally discovered Mississippi river. De soto crossed the river near present day Memphis.
On May 21, 1542 Hernando de Soto died in Arkansas due to semi-tropical fever at the age of 45.