Pánfilo de Narváez

Pánfilo de Narváez (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpaɱfilo ðe naɾˈβae̯θ]; 147?[3]–1528) was a Spanish conquistador and soldier in the Americas. Born in Spain, he first embarked to Jamaica in 1510 as a soldier. He came to participate in the conquest of Cuba and led an expedition to Camagüey escorting Bartolomé de las Casas. Las Casas described him as exceedingly cruel towards the natives.

He is most remembered as the leader of two failed expeditions: In 1520 he was sent to Mexico by the Governor of Cuba Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, with the objective of stopping the invasion by Hernán Cortés which had not been authorized by the Governor. Even though his 900 men outmanned those of Cortés 3 to 1, Narváez was outmaneuvered, lost an eye and was taken prisoner. After a couple of years in captivity in Mexico he returned to Spain where King Carlos V named him adelantado, with the mission of exploring and colonizing Florida. In 1527 Narváez embarked for Florida with five ships and 600 men, among them Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca who later described the expedition in his Naufragios. A storm south of Cuba wrecked several of the ships. The rest of the expedition continued on to Florida, where the men were eventually stranded among hostile natives. The survivors worked their way along the US gulf coast trying to get to the province of Pánuco. During a storm Narváez and a small group of men were carried out to sea on a raft and were not seen again. Only four men survived the Narváez expedition.

Pánfilo de Narváez
Panfilo de Narvaez
Pánfilo de Narváez
Died1528 (age 50)
Gulf of Mexico
Cause of deathDrowning[1]
OccupationSpanish Conquistador and Explorer[1]
SalaryPermission to settle and rule the land from northern Mexico to the Florida peninsula[2]

Birth and family

Pánfilo de Narváez was born in Castile (in either Cuéllar or Valladolid) in 1470 or 1478. He was a relative of Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, the first Spanish governor of Cuba. His nephew was Antonio Velázquez de Narváez. Bartolomé de las Casas described him as "a man of authoritative personality, tall of body and somewhat blonde inclined to redness"[4]

Jamaica and Cuba

Narváez took part in the Spanish conquest of Jamaica in 1509. In 1511 he went to Cuba to participate in the conquest of that island under the command of Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar.[5]:81,111,114,117–119 He led expeditions to the eastern end of the island in the company of Bartolomé de las Casas and Juan de Grijalva. As reported by de las Casas, who was an eyewitness, Narváez presided over the infamous massacre of Caonao, where Spanish troops put to the sword a village full of Indians who had come to meet them with offerings of food.[6] Following the massacre, Narváez asked de las Casas, "What do you think about what our Spaniards have done?" to which de las Casas replied, "I send both you and them to the Devil!"

In 1515, Panfilo de Narvaez and Antonio Velazquez were Cuba's first procuradores.[5]


In 1519, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, the governor of Cuba authorized and paid for Hernán Cortés to man an expedition to Mexico. But having second thoughts about Cortés' loyalty, he recalled the expedition shortly after embarking. Cortés disobeyed and proceeded with the planned expedition that would eventually result in the overthrow of the Aztec Empire. Arriving from Cuba Narváez was named governor of Mexico by Velázquez who sent him and 1400 men on 19 ships to México to intercept Cortés.[7]:280–281

Narváez disembarked at Veracruz, where Cortés had left behind a small garrison as he set out with the rest of his men for the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. The garrison was manned by Cortés' captain Gonzalo de Sandoval who managed to capture some of Narváez's men and send them to Tenochtitlan to alert Cortés of the coming danger. Unable to defeat the garrison Narváez went to the Totonac town of Cempoala, where he set up camp.[7]:282

When the news of Narváez's arrival reached Cortés, the latter gathered a contingent of his troops, perhaps as few as 250 men, and returned to the coast. On May 27, 1520, Cortés men moved in on Narváez's camp at Cempoala under the cover of a driving rain, and quickly took control of the artillery and horses before entering the city. Narváez took a stand at the main temple of the city of Cempoala with a contingent of musketeers and crossbowmen. Finally Gonzalo de Sandoval arrived with reinforcements to Cortés who managed to set the main temple on fire, driving out Narváez and his men. Narváez was severely wounded, losing his right eye to a pike thrust. He was taken prisoner and spent two years as a prisoner at the garrison of Veracruz before he was sent back to Spain. His men, who had been promised gold by Cortés, joined the conquistadors and returned to Tenochtitlan where they participated in the conquest of the Aztec empire.[8]

In the meantime, the deadly disease of smallpox spread from a carrier in Narváez's party to the native population of New Spain, killing many.[7]:282


Narváez was subsequently appointed adelantado of Florida by Charles V. He sailed from Sanlúcar de Barrameda on June 17, 1527, with a fleet of five ships and 600 men. Though intending to sail west to the mouth of the Rio de las Palmas (modern Rio Soto la Marina) in northern Mexico, a combination of the Gulf current and an inexperienced navigator caused their course to veer north.[9] The expedition arrived on the west coast of Florida in April 1528, weakened by storms and desertions. He landed with 300 men near Tampa Bay—at what is currently known as the Jungle Prada Site in St. Petersburg—among hostile natives.[10]

St Petersburg FL Jungle Prada sign02
Marker at the Jungle Prada Site

From there, his expedition moved on northward through interior Florida until it reached the territory of the powerful Apalachee Indians. Unable to find the gold and other riches he sought and tired of the hostilities with the Indians, Narváez ordered the construction of four rafts to return to the sea from the interior. He manned one raft for himself with the strongest men, the other led by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca the second in command, who had had several heated confrontations with Narvaez over his strategy. Cabeza de Vaca pleaded with Narváez not to let the rafts become separated, but Narváez did so anyway. Narváez party moved slowly westwards with some men on land and others on the raft. As the party was crossing a river the wind pulled the raft to sea, with Narváez on board, and he was never seen again.[11]

The storm wrecked two of the four rafts, and the other two made it to the island of Galveston where they were captured by the local Indians. Only four of the 86 survivors escaped their captivity, the others having been either killed or starved to death. Only four men survived the trek: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, Alonso del Castillo Maldonado and the Berber slave Estevanico (Esteban).

Cabeza de Vaca wrote a narration entitled Naufragios (Castaways), in which he described the journey made by these four survivors on foot across the present day southwestern United States and northern Mexico. This trek took eight years before they arrived in Culiacán (Sinaloa), where they found Melchor Diaz as mayor and captain of the province.[12]


  1. ^ a b Alchin, Linda K., "Panfilo de Narvaez", Elizabethan Era, retrieved June 17, 2010
  2. ^ a b c "The Misadventures of Pánfilo de Narváez and Nuñez de Cabeza de Vaca", A Short History of Florida, Tampa: University of South Florida, retrieved June 17, 2010
  3. ^ Some sources give the year of birth as 1470 others as 1478
  4. ^ Goodwyn, F. (1949). Pánfilo de Narváez, A Character Study of the First Spanish Leader to Land an Expedition to Texas. The Hispanic American Historical Review, 29(1), 150-156.
  5. ^ a b Floyd, Troy (1973). The Columbus Dynasty in the Caribbean, 1492-1526. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. pp. 131, 164, 168.
  6. ^ de las Casas, Bartolomé, Historia de las Indias (in Spanish), Book III, Ch. 29–30.
  7. ^ a b c Diaz, B., 1963, The Conquest of New Spain, London: Penguin Books, ISBN 0140441239
  8. ^ Charles M. Robinson. 2004. The Spanish Invasion of Mexico 1519-1521. Osprey Publishing, pp. 49-50
  9. ^ Reséndez, Andrés (2007). A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca. New York: Basic Books. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-465-06841-8.
  10. ^ Oviedo y Valdez, G. F., & Davenport, H. (1923). The Expedition of Pánfilo de Narváez. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 27(2), 120-139.
  11. ^ We Came Naked and Barefoot: The Journey of Cabeza de Vaca Across North America. By Alex D. Krieger. Edited by Margery J. Krieger. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002
  12. ^ De Vaca, Alvar Nunez Cabeza (1993). Pupo-Walker, Enrique (ed.). Castaways, The Narrative of Alvar Nunez Cabeza De Vaca. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 115. ISBN 0520070631.

Further reading

External links


Year 1528 (MDXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.


Adelantado (Spanish pronunciation: [aðelanˈtaðo]) (meaning "advanced") was a title held by Spanish nobles in service of their respective kings during the Middle Ages. It was later used as a military title held by some Spanish conquistadores of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

Adelantados were granted directly by the monarch the right to become governors and justices of a specific region, which they were charged with conquering, in exchange for funding and organizing the initial explorations, settlements and pacification of the target area on behalf of the Crown of Castile. These areas were usually outside the jurisdiction of an existing audiencia or viceroy, and adelantados were authorized to communicate directly with the Council of the Indies.

Alafia River

The Alafia River is 25 miles (40 km) long, with a watershed of 335 square miles (870 km2) in Hillsborough County, Florida, United States, flowing into Tampa Bay. The watershed contains ten named lakes and ponds, and 29 named rivers, streams and canals. During the rainy season, excess water is pumped to the new C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, which opened in 2005.

For centuries the Alafia was home to the Tocobaga Indians. From their settlement at the mouth of the river to their hunting camps upstream, the Indians left traces of their lives and activities.

In the sixteenth century, the expeditions of Pánfilo de Narváez and Hernando de Soto explored the coastal areas of Tampa Bay and visited the Indians, making the first written account and charting the first maps of the Alafia River. On an early map the name 'Alafia' does not appear, but rather the translation, Hunting River. The 'Alafia' is a native word meaning "River of Fire." This is due to the strong red/brown color caused by tiny algae spores in the water.

Part of the river exists within the confines of the Alafia River State Park.

Alonso de Solís

Alonso de Solís (? - 1576) was a soldier and explorer who served as governor of Florida between April and July 4, 1576, when he was killed. He also participated in the Narváez expedition as royal inspector of mines.

Solís joined the Castilian army in his youth, where he excelled and he reached the rank of official. In June 17, 1527, he participated, together with six hundred other men (among them Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca), in the Narváez expedition, led by Pánfilo de Narváez, to conquer the provinces located between Rio de Palmas and Cape Florida. He served in the expedition as royal inspector of mines. Apparently, in 1574 De Solis and the governor of Florida Diego de Velasco took several fathoms of money to the Amerindians of Florida, who had a value equal to two ducats each, and also two canoes of the natives, without giving them any compensation.Solís was appointment governor of Florida in April 1576, being killed in July 4 this year.

Alonso del Castillo Maldonado

Alonso del Castillo Maldonado (died c. 1540) was an early Spanish explorer in the Americas. He was one of the last four survivors of the Pánfilo de Narváez expedition, along with Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Andrés Dorantes de Carranza and his African slave Estevanico. They were the early non-natives people to travel in the Southwest region of the modern United States. Castillo Maldonado lived with a Native American tribe in Texas in 1527 and 1528.

Andrés Dorantes de Carranza

Andrés Dorantes de Carranza (ca. 1500 – 1550), was an early Spanish explorer in the Americas. He was one of the four last survivors of the Narváez expedition, along with Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Dorantes' slave Estevanico, and Alonso del Castillo Maldonado. They were the first non-native people to travel in the Southwest region of the modern United States.


The Apalachee are a Native American people who historically lived in the Florida Panhandle. They lived between the Aucilla River and Ochlockonee River, at the head of Apalachee Bay, an area known to Europeans as the Apalachee Province. They spoke a Muskogean language called Apalachee, which is now extinct.

The Apalachee occupied the site of Velda Mound starting about 1450 CE, but had mostly abandoned it when Spanish started settlements in the 17th century. They first encountered Spanish explorers in 1528, when the Narváez expedition arrived. Traditional tribal enemies, European diseases, and European encroachment severely reduced their population. The survivors dispersed, and over time many Apalachee integrated with other groups, particularly the Creek Confederacy, while others relocated to other Spanish territories, and some remained in what is now Louisiana. About 300 descendants in Rapides and Natchitoches parishes assert an Apalachee identity today.

Apalachee Bay

Apalachee Bay is a bay in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico occupying an indentation of the Florida coast to the west of where the Florida peninsula joins the United States mainland. It is bordered by Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla, and Franklin counties.The Aucilla, Econfina, St. Marks, and Ochlockonee rivers drain into the bay. In 1528 five boats were constructed by Pánfilo de Narváez in the bay. It is named for the Apalachee tribe which lived between the Aucilla and Ochlockonee rivers until the 18th century. Most of the bay's coast is the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Colonial Argentina

Colonial Argentina is designated as the period of the History of Argentina when it was an overseas colony of the Spanish Empire. It begins in the precolumbian age of the indigenous peoples of Argentina, with the arrival of the first Spanish conqueror.

Fort Ward (Florida)

This article deals with Fort Ward, Florida, in the United States. For other Fort Wards, see: Fort Ward (disambiguation).

Fort Ward was a Confederate States of America fort located in Wakulla County, Florida, at the confluence of the Wakulla River and St. Marks River and named after Colonel George T. Ward, owner of Southwood Plantation, Waverly Plantation, and Clifford Place Plantation south of Tallahassee. During the American Civil War, Confederate troops placed a battery of cannons at Fort Ward.

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo (1497 – January 3, 1543) was a Spanish explorer born in Palma del Rio, Córdoba, Spain, although he is also claimed by tradition as a native of Portugal. Among other things he was a maritime navigator known for exploring the West Coast of North America on behalf of the Spanish Empire. Cabrillo was the first European to navigate the coast of present-day California. He is best known for his exploration of the coast of California in 1542–1543. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo served under the command of Pánfilo de Narváez and aided him in the conquest of Cuba about 1518.

Juan Velázquez de León

Juan Velázquez de León was a Spanish conquistador, who along with Hernán Cortés participated in the third Spanish expedition to continental America (present day Mexico) in 1519. He was distinguished by being relative of the then Governor of Cuba Diego Velázquez, but overall served Hernán Cortés and the cause of the Conquest. Cortés gave Juan the daughter of Maxixcatzin, baptized as Doña Elvira, after the Tlaxcallan's made peace with the Spanish.Juan had a determining participation in the defeat of the army of Pánfilo de Narváez, when Cortés sent him to "win him friends in Narváez' camp."He died when the Aztec army attacked the Spaniards as they fled the city of Tenochtitlán, during the La Noche Triste.

List of conquistadors

The following is a list of conquistadors.

Massacre in the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan

The Massacre in the Great Temple, also called the Alvarado Massacre, was an event on May 22, 1520, in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan during the Spanish conquest of Mexico, in which the celebration of the Feast of Toxcatl ended in a massacre of Aztec elites.While Hernán Cortés was in Tenochtitlan, he heard about other Spaniards arriving on the coast – Pánfilo de Narváez had come from Cuba with orders to arrest him – and Cortés was forced to leave the city to fight them. During his absence, Moctezuma asked deputy governor Pedro de Alvarado for permission to celebrate Toxcatl (an Aztec festivity in honor of Tezcatlipoca, one of their main gods). But after the festivities had started, Alvarado interrupted the celebration, killing almost everyone present at the festival, men, women, and children alike. The few who managed to escape the massacre climbing over the walls proceeded to inform the community of the treacherous Spaniards' atrocity.The Spanish version of the incident claims the conquistadors intervened to prevent a ritual of human sacrifice in the Templo Mayor; the Aztec version says the Spaniards were enticed into action by the gold the Aztecs were wearing, prompting an Aztec rebellion against the orders of Moctezuma. While differing so on Alvarado's specific motive, both accounts are in basic agreement that the celebrants were unarmed and that the massacre was without warning and unprovoked.

The Aztecs were already antagonistic towards the Spaniards for being inside their city and for holding Moctezuma under house arrest. When Cortez and his men, including those who had come under Narvaez, returned, the Aztecs began to commence full scale hostilities against the Spaniards. The Spaniards had no choice but to retreat from the city, which they did on what is called the Sad Night (La Noche Triste), losing most of their men, who were either killed in the battle or were captured and sacrificed.


Narvaez is a surname of Spanish and also Basque origin, and may refer to:

Francisco de Narvaez, Colombian-born politician and businessman

Kiko (footballer), born Francisco Miguel Narváez Machón, Spanish football player

Frankie Narvaez, Puerto Rican boxer

Israel Narvaez, gang leader in New York

José María Narváez, 18th-century Spanish explorer and navigator

Leonardo Narváez, Colombian track cyclist

Luis de Narváez, 16th-century Spanish composer

Luis Pacheco de Narváez, 17th-century author

Manuel Narvaez, Puerto Rican basketball player

Omar Andrés Narváez, Argentinian boxer

Pánfilo de Narváez, 16th-century Spanish conquistador and explorer

Ramón María Narváez y Campos, 1st Duke of Valencia

Darcia Narvaez, American psychologist

Narváez expedition

The Narváez expedition was a Spanish journey of exploration and colonization started in 1527 that intended to establish colonial settlements and garrisons in Florida. The expedition was initially led by Pánfilo de Narváez, who died in 1528. More men died as the expedition traveled west along the unexplored Gulf Coast of the present-day United States and into the American Southwest. Only four of the expedition's original members survived, reaching Mexico City in 1536. These survivors were the first known Europeans and Africans to see the Mississippi River, and to cross the Gulf of Mexico and Texas.

Narváez's crew initially numbered about 600, including men from Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Italy. The expedition met with disaster almost immediately. Making stops at Hispaniola and Cuba on the way to Florida, the fleet was devastated by a hurricane, among other storms, and lost two ships. After landing near Sarasota Bay, the expedition was split, with 300 men sent overland in search of gold. They encountered numerous attacks by indigenous peoples and suffered from disease and starvation. By September 1528, following an attempt by survivors to sail on makeshift rafts from Florida to Mexico, only 80 men survived after being swept onto Galveston Island off the coast of Texas. The stranded survivors were enslaved by Native American tribes, and more men continued to die from harsh conditions.

Only four of the original party—Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Alonso del Castillo Maldonado, Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, and Dorantes' enslaved Moor Estevanico—survived the next eight years, during which they wandered through what is now the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. They eventually encountered Spanish slave-catchers in Sinaloa in 1536, and with them, the four men finally reached Mexico City. Upon returning to Spain, Cabeza de Vaca wrote of the expedition in his La Relación ("The Relation"), published in 1542 as the first written account of North America. With later additions, it was published under the title Naufragios ("Shipwreck").

Panfilo (name)

Pánfilo de Narváez (1478–1528) was a Spanish conquistador and soldier.

The name Panfilo is the Italian and Spanish form of the Latin name Pamphilus. Other notable people named Panfilo include:

Pamphilus of Sulmona (7th century – 8th century), an Italian bishop and saint

Panfilo Castaldi (c. 1398 – c. 1490), an Italian physician and printer

Panfilo Gentile (1889 - 1971), an Italian journalist, writer and politician

Panfilo Nuvolone (1581 – 1651), an Italian painter

Pánfilo Natera García, a Mexican general and politician who served as Governor of Zacatecas

Panfilo Lacson (born 1948), a Filipino police officer and politician

Pánfilo Escobar (born 1974), a Paraguayan footballer

Rolena Adorno

Rolena Adorno is an American humanities scholar, the Spanish Sterling Professor at Yale University and bestselling author.

Writing in 2001, and in the context of a favorable review of a "magnificent study" that she coauthored, James Axtell called her "perhaps the preeminent student of colonial Latin American literature".

Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire

The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, or the Spanish–Mexica War (1519–21), was the conquest of the Aztec Empire by the Spanish Empire within the context of the Spanish colonization of the Americas. There are multiple 16th-century narratives of the events by Spanish conquerors, their indigenous allies and the defeated Aztecs. It was not solely a contest between a small contingent of Spaniards defeating the Aztec Empire but rather the creation of a coalition of Spanish invaders with tributaries to the Aztecs, and most especially the Aztecs' indigenous enemies and rivals. They combined forces to defeat the Mexica of Tenochtitlan over a two-year period. For the Spanish, the expedition to Mexico was part of a project of Spanish colonization of the New World after twenty-five years of permanent Spanish settlement and further exploration in the Caribbean.

Following an earlier expedition led by Juan de Grijalva to Yucatán in 1517, Spanish settler, Hernán Cortés, led an expedition (entrada) to Mexico. Two years later, in 1519, Cortés and his retinue set sail from Cuba for Mexico. The Spanish campaign against the Aztec Empire had its final victory on August 13, 1521, when a coalition army of Spanish forces and native Tlaxcalan warriors led by Cortés and Xicotencatl the Younger captured the emperor Cuauhtemoc and Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. The fall of Tenochtitlan marks the beginning of Spanish rule in central Mexico, and they established their capital of Mexico City on the ruins of Tenochtitlan.

Cortés made alliances with tributaries city-states (altepetl) of the Aztec Empire as well as their political rivals, particularly the Tlaxcalteca and Texcocans, a former partner in the Aztec Triple Alliance. Other city-states also joined, including Cempoala and Huexotzinco and polities bordering Lake Texcoco, the inland lake system of the Valley of Mexico. Particularly important to the Spanish success was a multilingual (Nahuatl, a Maya dialect, and Spanish) indigenous slave woman, known to the Spanish conquistadors as Doña Marina, and generally as La Malinche. After eight months of battles and negotiations, which overcame the diplomatic resistance of the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II to his visit, Cortés arrived in Tenochtitlan on November 8, 1519, where he took up residence with fellow Spaniards and their indigenous allies. When news reached Cortés of the death of several of his men during the Aztec attack on the Totonacs in Veracruz, he took Moctezuma captive, along with Cuitláhuac, his kinsman. Capturing the cacique or indigenous ruler was standard operating procedure for Spaniards in their expansion in the Caribbean, so capturing Moctezuma had considerable precedent.

When Cortés left Tenochtitlan to return to the coast and deal with the expedition of Pánfilo de Narváez, sent to rein in Cortés's expedition that had exceeded its specified limits, Cortés's right-hand man Pedro de Alvarado was left in charge. Alvarado allowed a significant Aztec feast to be celebrated in Tenochtitlan and on the pattern of the earlier massacre in Cholula, closed off the square and massacred the celebrating Aztec noblemen. The official biography of Cortés by Francisco López de Gómara contains a description of the massacre. The Alvarado massacre at the Main Temple of Tenochtitlan precipitated rebellion by the population of the city. Moctezuma was killed, although the sources do not agree on who murdered him. According to one account, when Moctezuma, now seen by the population as a mere puppet of the invading Spaniards, attempted to calm the outraged populace, he was killed by a projectile. According to an indigenous account, the Spanish killed Moctezuma. Cortés had returned to Tenochtitlan and his men fled the capital city during the Noche Triste in June 1520. The Spanish, Tlaxcalans and reinforcements returned a year later on August 13, 1521 to a civilization that had been weakened by famine and smallpox. This made it easier to conquer the remaining Aztecs.Many of those on the Cortés expedition of 1519 had never seen combat before, including Cortés. A whole generation of Spaniards later participated in expeditions in the Caribbean and Tierra Firme (Central America), learning strategy and tactics of successful enterprises. The Spanish conquest of Mexico had antecedents with established practices.The fall of the Aztec Empire was the key event in the formation of the Spanish Empire overseas, with New Spain, which later became Mexico.

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