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480 years ago today

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An email reminded me that today, April 14th, is the 480th anniversary of the Narvaez expedition landing on Florida soil. Somewhere around Pinellas County / St. Pete area.

Pánfilo de Narváez landed with 300 soldiers. He was to take over the conquest of Florida that Ponce de Leon left unfinished. His men discovered Tampa Bay, and they released to ships to find the opening of the bay. They never met up with each other again. Lack of knowledge of the land made them lose their way, and they never met up with the ships. Instead they decided to march around the gulf coast to Mexico.

The survivors would endure starvation and several attack from the Natives who did not want the Spanish to conquer them.

Finding once again that they underestimated the geography, they gave up on the march and made rafts around what is now St. Marks to try and sail to Mexico. But then a hurricane hit, and the cruel Narvaez was never seen again. His scribe Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca recorded the rest of the journey until himself and three other survivors reached Mexico eight years later.

Cabeza de Vaca had a very interesting journey, being a slave at different tribes, and then becoming a traveling healer and medicine man by using his knowledge of medicine to hear tribal members.

He petitioned the king of spain for governorship of Florida after returning to Spanish civilization, but that was already given to Hernando de Soto. So he was given governor of Argentina. He proved to be very sympathetic and benevolent towards native people, which led to his eventual arrest and return to Spain.
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