Panfilo De Narvaez 

 

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Narvaez, PANFILO DE, explorer; born in Valladolid, Spain, about 1478; went to Santo Domingo in 1501, and thence to Cuba, where he was the chief lieutenant of Velasquez, the governor. Cortez carrying matters with a high hand in Mexico, Narvaez was sent by Velasquez to Cuba to supersede him, but was defeated, lost an eye, and was held a prisoner by Cortez. On his release Narvaez returned to Spain, and in June, 1527, sailed from San Lucar, by authority of the King, with 600 men in five vessels, commanded to conquer Florida and govern it. After long detention at Santo Domingo and Cuba, he sailed for Florida with 400 men and eighty horses, accompanied by CABEZA DE VACA as treasurer of the expedition, who was to be deputy-governor. They landed at Tampa Bay on April 13, 1528, where Narvaez raised the standard of Spain and took possession of the country in the name of its King, and his officers took the oath of allegiance to him as governor.

Instead of treating the native inhabitants kindly, and winning their friendship and an easy conquest, Narvaez followed the example of his countrymen in Santo Domingo and Cuba. He marched into the interior with high hopes, directing his vessels to sail along the coasts. He pressed forward in daily expectation of finding some city sparkling with wealth. All before him were creations of imagination, all behind him were gloomy disappointments. Treachery met his cruelty at every step. Compelled to fight foes and failing to find gold, Narvaez turned towards the sea—the Gulf of Mexico—and at the mouth of the Apalachicola, failing to find his ships, he caused frail boats to be built, embarked with his followers, and coasted towards the mouth of the Mississippi. One by one his followers died from starvation, and finally a "norther" struck and dispersed the flotilla. Narvaez was never heard of afterwards. The boat that carried De Vaca stranded on an island, where they were kindly treated by the natives. De Vaca was the only Spaniard of the expedition who returned to Spain.

 

 

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