Pánfilo de Narváez was born in Vallenda, Spain, in 1470 or 1478. Before he died in 1528, Narváez was a soldier, explorer and important figure in the conquests of Cuba and Jamaica with a reputation for ruthlessness and poor strategic decisions.
In 1509, Narváez fought in the conquest of Jamaica with Juan de Esquirel, and in 1511, he fought in Cuba alongside Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar. On May 24, 1520, he was defeated in Mexico by Hernán Cortés and imprisoned for two years. In 1526, after returning to Spain, he was commissioned by Carlos V to colonize western Florida. He left on June 17, 1527, and landed near Tampa Bay on April 14, 1528. In September 1528, near Tallahassee, Fla., with few men and no supplies, he decided to return to Cuba on handmade rafts. Narváez died when his raft capsized during a storm in the Gulf of Mexico.