GARCILASO de la Vega, "El Inca" (1539-1616)
Histoire de la Floride, ou Relation de ce qui s'est Passé au Voyage de Ferdinand de Soto ... traduit en François par P. Richelet ...
Paris: Gervais Clovzier, 1670. 2 volumes, 12mo. (5 3/4 x 3 1/2 inches). , 452; , 414 pp.
Contemporary vellum, manuscript title on spine
Provenance: Dukes of Arenberg, Nordkirchen (armorial bookplate)
First edition in French of the foundation work on the De Soto Expedition.
One of the basic works on the De Soto Expedition, written by the half Spanish-half Peruvian historian of the New World Garcilaso de la Vega ("El Inca"), the first distinguished man of letters to be born there. De Soto, one of the most famous of the conquistadors, landed in Florida, near Tampa Bay, in the spring of 1539. He explored northward, attacking and enslaving local Indians until retaliatory strikes made his progress a running battle. In 1540 the expedition moved north and then west, crossing present-day Georgia, through central South Carolina and into western North Carolina. From here he crossed northern Alabama and Mississippi, where several major Indian attacks deprived the expedition of much of its equipment. In the spring of 1541 he crossed the Mississippi, and spent all of that year in present-day Arkansas. De Soto died the following year and was buried in the Mississippi to conceal his loss from the Indians; the survivors of the expedition rafted down the river and managed to sail small boats to Mexico. The De Soto expedition is thus the first major European exploration of much of the Southeast United States, as well as Arkansas.
"This is a contemporary narrative of Hernando de Soto's Conquest of Florida, and the second to be published [following that of the Gentleman of Elvas]. The work is based upon the relations of eye-witnesses and was written forty years after the events which it narrates ... It is based upon conversations with a noble Spaniard who had accompanied de Soto as a volunteer, and upon the written but illiterate reports of two common soldiers, Alonzo de Carmona, of Priego, and Juan Coles, of Zabra" (Church). The "noble Spaniard" referred to was one Silvestre, who related details from memory to Garcilaso some time in the 1570s or 1580s. Via this, elements of exaggeration and romance entered the narrative which make it less reliable than the other narratives of the expedition, although still of great value.
"One of the major accounts of the travels of De Soto in Florida and throughout the present day Southeastern United States ... the Inca's work remains the major literary by-product of this historic invasion...[it] has earned the distinction of being the first work published by a native-born American author" (Servies).
First published in Spanish in Lisbon in 1605, the work was not translated into French until the present edition translated by P. Richelet. This first French edition is quite rare in the marketplace, with only one other copy located in the auction records.
Sabin 98749; Palau 354837; Eberstadt 130:226.