|DESOTO VS. TUSCALOOSA AT THE BATTLE OF MAUVILA|
Tuscaloosa was the leading chief of a Mississippian tribe in present-day
Alabama. In 1539, the explorer Hernando de Soto was sent out to conquer what is
now the southern U.S., and by the next fall he had reached Tuscaloosa’s
territory. De Soto’s method of peaceful coercion had consisted of capturing the
ruler of each province through which he passed, and Tuscaloosa was no exception.
The chief first met the Spaniards with an envoy while they were still in Talisi,
in order to plan a trap for their demise. The Spanish reached Tuscaloosa’s own
village several weeks later, and upon their arrival the native leader welcomed
them into his court. There, de Soto demanded women and servants, and when
Tuscaloosa refused, the European explorers took him hostage. The chief tried to
relent, but he was only given a pair of boots and a cloak for his delayed
The expedition left Tuscaloosa’s village a few days later, but as de Soto
continued on his journey, he began to sense a newfound hostility among the
Indians. While in Piachi, he was refused canoes, and after building their own
boats and crossing the river, the Spaniards discovered that two of their men
were missing. Tuscaloosa answered only that the men would be returned at the
town of Mabila. As de Soto approached the village, he grew worried; the
buildings were heavily fortified, and the citizens seemed only to consist of
young, able-bodied warriors. Once in the city, however, the Spanish fears were
allayed by the festive spectacle that was shown in their honor, and de Soto even
allowed Tuscaloosa to meet with some of his nobles in private in one of the
large houses near the plaza. When he sent men into the house to retrieve the
chief, however, they were instead met by a band of armed warriors ready to
protect their leader. De Soto insisted that peace would be restored should the
chief of Mabila only deliver servants to the explorers, but the latter refused;
in the resulting brawl, the chief’s arm was cut off, and the Mabilians
immediately jumped in to defend him. The Spanish escaped the village before
reconvening with plans to attack the natives. At last, they were able to fight
their way back inside, at which opportunity they set the town on fire. Nearly
all the Indians, including Tuscaloosa, were killed.
Key events during the life of Tuscaloosa:
||Hernando de Soto arrived in America.
||De Soto captured Tuscaloosa and brought him to Mabila.
||Killed during the Battle of Mabila.
|Hernando De Soto
||Adventurer who aided in conquest of Peru, then explored Southwestern United States. Discovered Mississippi river.