Isabel de Bobadilla: myth, memory, mentiras
Isabel de Bobadilla the younger, the first and only female governor of Cuba and married to Castilian conquistador Hernando de Soto, often has been written out of the historical record. Although she has been mentioned in many monographs, articles, and books about Hernando de Soto, she still does not have the same level of attention from historians as her husband or her father, who was the conquistador Pedro Arias (Pedrarias) Davila. My research questions are, firstly, what social situations allowed for Isabel de Bobadilla (the younger) to rise to become the first and only female governor of Cuba from 1539-1544? Secondly, what led to her history being documented but only included in Hernando de Soto's history rather than having a historiographical record of her own? My working theory is that Hernando de Soto was able to appoint her as his direct successor because of a Spanish law that allowed for a woman to take over husband's trade if she became widowed. In order to explore this line of investigation, I will be relying on documents from the Spanish Archives as well as work from historians like Asunción Lavrin, Woodrow Borah, and William Phillips to have a better understanding of the social situation at t he time that allowed for her rise to power.