Luis de Moscoso Alvarado

Luis de Moscoso Alvarado
Born 1505
Badajoz, Spain
Died 1551
Nationality Spanish
Occupation explorer and conquistador

Luis de Moscoso Alvarado (1505 1551) was a Spanish explorer and conquistador. Luis de Moscoso Alvarado assumed command of Hernando De Soto's expedition upon the latter's death.

Early life

Luis de Moscoso Alvarado was born in Badajoz, Spain in 1505. He was the son of Alonso Hernández Diosdado Mosquera de Moscoso and Isabel de Alvarado (otherwise given as Isabel de Figueroa), natives of Zafra, Spain. De Moscoso had 2 brothers, Juan de Alvarado and Cristóbal de Mosquera. His uncle was the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado, who had excelled in the conquests of Mexico and Central America.[1]


Expeditions with Pedro de Alvarado

Alvarado accompanied his uncle on expeditions to the Americas, where he participated in the conquest of present-day Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.[1] In 1530 Pedro sent Alvarado to set up a colony in present-day eastern El Salvador. On May 8, 1530 Alvarado founded the town of San Miguel de la Frontera in modern San Miguel Department.[2]

In 1534, he traveled to Peru with his uncle on an expedition through what is now Ecuador. As Alvarado explored the area, he and Pedro discovered several tribes in the Manabí Province.[1]

Expeditions with Hernando de Soto

After returning to Peru,[1] Alvarado and his two brothers decided to work with Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto.

Alvarado returned to Spain in 1536 due to discord between Diego de Almagro and Francisco Pizarro. In Spain, apparently, Alvarado made improper use of the wealth he had acquired in Peru, forcing his return to the Americas to recover it. He left the Spanish port of Sanlucar de Barrameda with de Soto's army, commanding one of the expedition's seven ships.

On April 7, 1538 the expedition reached Florida's coast via Cuba. Alvarado obtained the title of "maestro de campo" (field commander) and kept this title until an incident with the Chickasaw Native American band, in March 1541. In this incident many of the horses and twelve Spaniards died, apparently (and mainly) because of Alvarado's error. De Soto died on May 21, 1542, in what became Arkansas, leaving Moscoso as the commander of the army. After consulting with the other leaders, Moscoso decided to abandon the mission to found a colony and take the expedition to Mexico.[1][4]

Own expeditions

Moscoso and his army marched west, possibly reaching northwest Louisiana and Texas. They encountered Late Caddoan Mississippian peoples along the way, but lacked interpreters to communicate with them and eventually ran into territory too dry for maize farming and too thinly populated to sustain themselves by stealing food from the local populations. The expedition promptly backtracked to Guachoya on the Mississippi River.[1][4]

Over the winter of 1542-1543 they built seven bergantines, or pinnaces, with which to seek a water route to Mexico. On July 2, 1543, the 322 survivors of originally more than 600 soldiers and servants went down the Mississippi. Along the way they had a running three day battle with the chiefdom of "Quigualtam", in which more men were lost. Alvarado's expeditionary group eventually made it to the Gulf Coast on July 16th, 1543, and began sailing westward along the Louisiana and Texas shores. The group probably also found some of Texas' bays (possibly Matagorda Bay, Corpus Christi Bay or Aransas Bay) before finally reaching the Pánuco River, and then traveling on to Mexico City.[5]

There Moscoso wrote two brief letters to king of Castile at the time, Charles V, although they explained little about the expedition. In present-day Mexico he served to the viceroy of New Spain Antonio de Mendoza and accompanied him to Peru in 1550, where Luis Moscoso died in 1551.

Personal life

After sending the letters to the King of Spain, Moscoso Alvarado married his cousin, Leonor (the daughter of his uncle Pedro de Alvarado) in Mexico City.


Mosca Pass, in the Alamosa County´s Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, is named for Luis de Moscoso de Alvarado.[6]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Robert S. Weddle. Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "," Luis de Moscoso Alvarado. Posted on Handbook of Texas Online. Accessdate on May 8, 2010.
  2. FISDL. Conoce a tu municipio Archived 2009-03-01 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved in September 19, 2008
  3. Hudson, Charles M. (1997). Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun. University of Georgia Press.
  4. 1 2 Hudson, Charles M. (1997). Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun. University of Georgia Press. pp. 353–379.
  5. Hudson, Charles M. (1997). Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun. University of Georgia Press. pp. 380–392.
  6. Sangre de Cristo. National Hereditage Area: Alamosa Communities
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