History Timeline 1500s

Above: Painting, entitled Discovery of the Mississippi, by William H. Powell, 1847, is located in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Right: Giovanni de Verrazzano, 1889, engraving by F. Allcarini, Tocchi, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Giovanni da Verrazzano

Pre-Revolution Timeline - The 1500s


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  • Timeline

  • Detail - 1528

    April 12, 1528 - After much hardship and stops in the Caribbean, the Narváez expedition reaches Florida near Tampa Bay and debarks two days later in Boca Ciega Bay, where they encounter natives of the Safety Harbor region. For the next four years, the expedition met a dire fate due to battles with natives (Timucua, Apalachee, and Tocobaga), the sea, and starvation. The expedition had split into several forces by the end of this year, and in total, slightly more than eighty members of the original expedition had survived, some reaching the Galveston, Texas area by boat.

    Narvaez Expedition

    It had taken much hardship for the expedition headed by Pánfilo de Narváez to finally site land in their destination of Florida. Leaving Spain on June 17, 1527 under a contract with King Carlos I to colonize and explore Florida, there had been shipwrecks, desertion, and a strong Gulf Current that had prevented them from arriving before April of 1528. But now, on April 12, 1528, land had been sighted near Tampa, and there was talk of a great harbor somewhere nearby. For two days they searched for it, lost another ship to the sea, but finally, on April 15, 1528, they sighted what seemed like a good location already occupied by natives they could trade with.

    Excerpts from "The Journey of Alvar Núñez Cabeza De Vaca," 1542

    Expedition Arrives at Boca Ciega Bay

    "Departing from there and arrived at Guaniguanico (western Cuba), another tempest came up in which we nearly perished. At Cape Corrientes (further west in Cuba) we had another, which lasted three days. Afterward we doubled the Cape of Sant Anton (the most westerly cape of Cuba) and sailed with contrary winds as far as twelve leagues off Habana, and when, on the following day, we attempted to enter (Mariel Harbor, Cuba), a southerly storm drove us away, so that we crossed to the coast of Florida, sighting land on Tuesday, the 12th day of the month of April. We coasted the way of Florida, and on Holy Thursday cast anchor at the mouth of a bay, at the head of which we saw certain houses and habitations of Indians.

    On that same day the clerk, Alonso Enriquez, left and went to an island in the bay and called the Indians, who came and were with him a good while, and by way of exchange they gave him fish and some venison. The day following day the Governor disembarked, with as many men as his little boats would hold, and as we arrived at the huts or houses of the Indians we had seen, we found them abandoned and deserted, the people having left that same night in their canoes. One of those houses was so large that it could hold more than 300 people. The others were smaller, and we found a golden rattle among the nets. The next day the Governor hoisted flags in behalf of Your Majesty and took possession of the country in Your Royal name, exhibited his credentials, and was acknowledged as Governor according to Your Majesty's command. We likewise presented our titles to him, and he complied as they required. He then ordered the remainder of the men to disembark, also the forty-two horses left (the others having perished on account of the great storms and the long time they had been on sea), and these few that remained were so thin and weak that they could be of little use for the time. The next day the Indians of that village came, and, although they spoke to us, as we had no interpreters we did not understand them; but they made many gestures and threats, and it seemed as if they beckoned to us to leave the country. Afterward, without offering any molestation, they went away." Cabeza de Vaca 1542.

    Note: Dates quoted within the above are at some odds with actual dates, which may have been five days earlier.

    The First Month in Florida

    After the first day of trade with the Tocobaga tribe that inhabited the area of today's Jungle Prada site, which is now a park denoting the landing site of the Narváez expedition, the welcome was lukewarm at best. Narváez had been installed as Governor of Florida and the edict of the King had ordered that the natives would be converted to Christianity. They could refuse, but if they did, it would lead to war. For the remainder of the month, Narváez took charge of exploring parties, reaching Old Tampa Bay and what they thought the main town of the Tocobaga. He ordered a brigantine to scout the waters for that great harbor they were told of, and to return to Cuba if not found. Narváez never heard from the crew of that brigantine again.

    Expedition Timeline - 1528

    May 1, 1528 - Narváez splits forces into land (three hundred people) and sea (one hundred people) ventures, with plans to meet up later. Land force reaches Withlacoochee River, enslaving villagers. They never met up with the ships, which searched for the land party for over one year. Narváez land force continues north.

    June 18, 1528 - Timucua tribe meets land party of the Narváez expedition without incident as Narváez states he is headed north to Apalachee territory, enemies of the Timucua.

    June 25, 1528 - Narváez expedition arrives at small outlying village of the Apalachee and attack. Warriors from other larger village attacked back over two days with forces of two hundred on each. Attacks continued for three weeks. Expedition decides to move south toward Aute and are attacked by Apalachee in swamp for two weeks.

    August 4, 1528 - The expedition was in dire shape, starving with thoughts of cannibalism. Narváez, now ill, and de Vaca, decided that a plan to build new boats from their weapons and supplies and sail for Pánuco, Mexico would be best. Five boats were built by September 20.

    September 28, 1528 - Two hundred and forty-two men of the Narváez expedition sail from Apalachee Bay along the Gulf Coast toward Texas, reaching the sea on September 30.

    November 6, 1528 - Eighty survivors reach the western edge of Follet's Island in today's Texas, near Galveston, ravaged by starvation and weather. Hurricane forced landfall. Cabeza de Vaca survives. Narváez is swept out to sea on a raft and never seen again. Some contend that this was earlier when the expedition reached the mouth of the Mississippi River. de Vaca and the other men live on the island or just inland for over four years. By 1532, only Cabeza de Vaca and three other men are still surviving, now as slaves amongst the Indian tribes of the area, before escaping in 1534.

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    Image above: Tocobaga mound at site of the Jungle Prada landing site at Boca Ciega Bay of the Narváez expedition, 2016, MiaCass16. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons CC 3.0. Photo below: Montage of the Map of the Narváez and de Vaca Expedition (background), 2008, Lancer and (inset) engraving of Pánfilo de Narváez, date unknown. Both images courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Source info: "The Journey of Alvar Núñez Cabeza De Vaca," 1542; "The Narváez Expedition," historians.org; floridahistory.com; Wikipedia.

    Narvaez Expedition

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