The Spanish in South Florida

The Spanish in South Florida


  • The Spanish in South Florida

Published Date

  • published 1940


[page 4]
man. He returned to Spain but the spirit of adventure moved him to seek
further conquests. Having received permission from his king, De Soto
fitted out an expedition at his own expense and set sail for the New
World. (5)

After many months' delay in Cuba, De Soto finally embarked for
Florida and landed on the west coast near Tampa in 1539. The small
army of nearly a thousand men included 600 knights in "doublets and
cassocks of silk," Portuguese in shining armor, priests, pages, and
servants, together with horses, hounds, and hogs. It was a formidable
force and, if there had been any kingdoms of gold and silver in Florida,
De Soto might have succeeded in his enterprise. (1 and 6)

In a letter which he wrote July 9, 1539, to the justice and Board
of Magistrates in Santiago is an account of his finding Ortiz, a survivor
of the Narvaez expedition which landed in Florida 12 years earlier.

"After our arrival, I received information of there being here a
Christian who was in the power of a cacique (chief); and I sent Baltazar
de Gallegos with 40 cavalry and as many infantry to endeavor to get
him. He met him in company with eight or ten Indians a day's journey
from this place and brought him to me. We were not a little glad to have
him for he speaks the language of the country and although he had
forgotten his own, it directly returned to him. His name is Juan Ortiz, a
native of Seville and an hidalgo." (9)