The European presence in what is now Alabama began in the early sixteenth century, when Spanish explorers reached the Gulf Coast. In 1540, Hernando de Soto and his men became the first Europeans to traverse Alabama's interior, bringing death and destruction to several Native American towns on his route. The arrival of the French, in the persons of the Le Moyne brothers, brought the first European settlements, including Mobile in 1711. Wars raging between major powers in Europe during the first half of the eighteenth century resulted in changes in control of various parts of the Southeast from France to Spain to Great Britain. The American Revolution and the ascendancy of the United States in the region ushered in the territorial period in 1798.