Cabeza De Vaca Biography

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Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish explorer, conquistador, and author of the book The Relation of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. He was born into a distinguished family in 1490 in Jerez de la Frontera, Andalusia, and was raised by paternal grandfather Pedro de Vera, one of the conquerors and governors of the Canary Islands. His strange name, literally meaning “head of a cow” came from his ancestor who used the skull of a cow to mark the pass for a Christian Army and therefore help them defeat the Muslim Moors in battle. While Cabeza de Vaca could read and write, there was no evidence that he got more than the most basic education available. In 1512, he fought in the Battle of Ravenna for King Ferdinand of Spain and in the early 1520’s, he…show more content…
Funded by King Charles V, the journey, meant to colonize Florida, included 600 men in five ships. On June 17, 1527, the expedition set sail for Mexico and the province of Pánuco, with Cabeza de Vaca as the treasurer and chief constable, in charge of overseeing expenses. Arriving in Santo Domingo on the island of Hispaniola, the group stayed for 45 days, restocking supplies before sailing on again. Unfortunately, a hurricane destroyed two boats near Cuba, killing most of Cabeza de Vaca’s men. By February 1528, Narváez and the other explorers were ready to sail again, and soon they reached modern-day Tampa Bay. Narváez had wanted to follow up on Native American reports, speaking of an abundance of gold in Apalachen, near modern-day Tallahassee. In March of 1528, Narváez made the horrible decision to split his land forces from his sea forces. He sent 250-300 spaniards out in search for gold, while the rest of the men sailed on to Pánuco, a place they mistakenly thought was very close by. By mid-June, the weary Spaniards made it to Apalachen but instead of gold, they discovered large stores of corn. The Native Americans constantly attacked them, killing few and wounding many more. The residents told the Spaniards to continue on to Aute, which was rich with gold, so they pushed on. Finally, after hiking for days, the group reached Aute only to find it entirely burned to the ground. With the constant attacks and no rest, the group decided to try and and sail to Pánuco instead of foraging on. The overland journey was nearly impossible, and so even with little food or supplies, they constructed barges using materials they found. They melted metal for nails, made sails out of clothing, wove horsehair into ropes, and used horsehide to contain water. By September 1528, five, roughly-made boats had been constructed. For two months, the barges floated along the Gulf Coast until they
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