Very rare first French edition and one of the earliest available, of De Soto’s exploration of the Southern United States.

(CITRI DE LA GUETTE, S, TRANSLATOR.) Histoire de la Conqueste de la Floride, par les Espagnols, sous Ferdinand de Soto. Ecrite en Portugais par un Gentil-homme de la ville d’Elvas. Par M.D.C. A Paris, Chez Denys Thierry, 1685. [24], 300 pp. 12mo in 8s and 4s. Contemporary calf, spine gilt with raised bands, label with gilt lettering, a nice copy.

€ 2000

Sabin 24864; European Americana 685/90; JFBL H186; Chadenat 2828 (“Édition originale française, très rare”); Leclerc, ii, 907 “L’édition originale est excessivement rare, la traduction française, peu commune, devient de ce fait assez précieuse”); not in Echeverria & Wilkie; not in Conlon, Prélude; not in Howes; not in Streeter sale.

Very rare first French edition and one of the earliest available, of De Soto’s exploration of the Southern United States. It is a translation of Relaçam verdadeira dos trabalhos que o governador dom Fernando de Souto, first published in Evora, 1557, and of which apperently only a few copies are known.

“The first French edition, the source for the English translation issued the following year. The preface indicates it was published as the means to inform Frenchmen about Florida and as an example in the conduct of such expeditions” (JFBL).

Hernando de Soto  (c. 1500 – May 21, 1542) was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who was involved in expeditions in Nicaragua and the Yucatan Peninsula, and played an important role in Pizarro’s conquest of the Inca Empire in Peru, but is best known for leading the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States (through Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and most likely Arkansas). He is the first European documented as having crossed the Mississippi River.

De Soto’s North American expedition was a vast undertaking. It ranged throughout what is now the southeastern United States, both searching for gold, which had been reported by various Native American tribes and earlier coastal explorers, and for a passage to China or the Pacific coast. De Soto died in 1542 on the banks of the Mississippi River; different sources disagree on the exact location, whether it was what is now Lake Village, Arkansas, or Ferriday, Louisiana. This is a rare book consisting of the anonymous eyewitness account of De Soto’s expedition into Florida and the Southern United States. It also includes the dramatic history of Juan Ortiz, a member of the Narvaez expedition who was captured by the Indians and rescued by De Soto. As Ortiz had learned a number of the Indian languages, he served for years as interpreter for De Soto. – Some scribbling onto recto of front blank, same leaf with some stains, a good copy in its original binding.