Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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NARVAEZ, Pfinfilo de (nar-vah'-eth), Spanish adventurer, born in Valladolid in 1470; died in Florida in November, 1528. He went in his youth to South America, served under several adventurers, and in 1510 was sent by Juan de Esquivel, governor of Jamaica, to the relief of Alonso de Ojeda (q. v.), who had been shipwrecked upon the coast of Cuba. Joining Diego Velasquez in 1512 with an auxiliary force, he aided him to conquer Cuba, and, being sent to Spain in 1516 to promote Velasquez's interests, obtained for the latter the commission of governor-general of Cuba, and permission to conquer the neighboring continent. In 1520, Velasquez, being envious of Cortes's success in Mexico, and displeased at the latter's resistance to his authority, prepared an expedition against him, and appointed Narvaez commander. Sailing from Havana in March, 1520, the latter landed on 23 April at San Juan d'Ulda, and took and fortified Cempoala, where Cortes tried to open negotiations with him. But Narvaez demanded complete submission, and on 26 May, 1520, was defeated by Cortes, severely wounded, and kept a prisoner for several months in Vera Cruz. On his return to Spain he obtained in 1526 the government of Florida, and prepared an expedition in Cuba to conquer that country. Sailing from Havana in March, 1528, with six ships and 300 soldiers, he landed on 1 May near Cape Corrientes, and discovered the Bay of Pensacola. Afterward, entering the territory of the Appalache Indians, he began the march westward in search of the rich empire of which he had heard, but after several months of hardship, being continually harassed by hosthe tribes, the Spaniards resolved to return to Cuba. With the loss of about half their force, they reached the coast, and constructed five boats, which were shipwrecked at the mouth of Mississippi river, and Narvaez with nearly all his followers perished. Only Cabeza de Vaca (q. v.) and three others returned.
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