Hernando and the razorbacks

Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto earned mad cred and 724 marks of gold as a conquistador in the conquest of the Inca empire. Admitted into the prestigious Order of Santiago, he returned to the New World in search of even higher earnings.

On 12th May 1539, with a thousand men (not counting sailors), he set sail from Havana, Cuba with seven of the King's ships and two of his personal caravels, bound for La Florida. In the ship's holds were tons of heavy armour, equipment and livestock, including 237 horses and 200 pigs for their four-year search for a new El Dorado.

Finding a suitable bay for their immigration, they named it EspĂ­ritu Santo after the Holy Spirit.

Now, it's known as Bradenton, county seat of Manatee County, FLA.

De Soto and his men did not get close to the local residents. People already living in Florida told them tales of great wealth to be found "toward the sun's rising" usually, to get them to go far away because de Soto and his men were carriers for measles, smallpox, chicken pox and other diseases for which there was no immunity in the New World.

On May 8, 1541, de Soto's troops reached the Mississippi River. To the second European, to ever lay eyes on it, the Big Muddy was just something annoying in the way. It was a bigger barrier than he knew- less than two weeks later, he was dead of fever on its' western bank, in present-day Arkansas.

De Soto's major coup was the depopulation of many southern United States by disease. It should also be noted that the escape of his expedition's pigs introduced the feral pigs that later immigrants would call "razorbacks" to the south.


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