Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpeðɾo mẽˈnẽndeθ ðe aβiˈles]; 15 February 1519 – 17 September 1574) was a Spanish admiral and explorer from the region of Asturias, Spain, who is remembered for planning the first regular trans-oceanic convoys and for founding St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565. This was the first successful Spanish settlement in La Florida and the most significant city in the region for nearly three centuries. St. Augustine is the oldest continuously-inhabited, European-established settlement in the continental United States. Menéndez de Avilés was also the first governor of Florida (1565–74).[1][2]

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés
Pedro Menéndez de Avilés
Pedro Menéndez de Aviles
1st Governor of Florida
In office
Succeeded byDiego de Velasco
Personal details
Born15 February 1519
Avilés, Asturias, Spain
Died17 September 1574 (aged 55)
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
OccupationAdmiral; 16th-century colonial governor of La Florida and Cuba, in New Spain


Menéndez had made his career in the Spanish Navy, in the service of the king, Philip II of Spain. His initial plans for a voyage to Florida revolved around searching for his son, Juan, who had been shipwrecked there in 1561. He could not find his son and he was assumed dead.

Following the founding of Fort Caroline in present-day Jacksonville by French Huguenots under René Goulaine de Laudonnière, he was commissioned to conquer the peninsula as Adelantado (an elite military and administrative position). He established Saint Augustine, or San Agustín, in 1565; then he seized Fort Caroline and displaced the French.[3]

His position as governor now secure, Menéndez explored the area and built additional fortifications. He returned to Spain in 1567[4] and was appointed governor of Cuba, in October of that year.[5] He voyaged to La Florida for the last time in 1571, with 650 settlers for Santa Elena, as well as his wife and family.[6][7] Menéndez died of typhus[8] at Santander, Spain, in 1574.

La Florida

In 1560, Pedro Menéndez commanded the galleons of the great Armada de la Carrera, or Spanish Treasure Fleet, on their voyage from the Caribbean and Mexico to Spain. He was appointed by King Philip II of Spain, who chose him as Captain General, and his brother Bartolomé Menéndez as Admiral, of the Fleet of the Indies.[9] When he had delivered the treasure fleet to Spain, he asked permission to go back in search of one lost vessel which had contained his son, other relatives, and friends, but the crown repeatedly refused his request.

In 1565, however, the Spanish decided to destroy the French outpost of Fort Caroline, located in what is now Jacksonville. The crown approached Menéndez to fit out an expedition to Florida[10] on the condition that he explore and settle the region as King Philip's adelantado, and eliminate the Huguenot French,[11] whom the Catholic Spanish considered to be dangerous heretics.[12]

Menéndez was in a race to reach Florida before the French captain Jean Ribault,[6] who was on a mission to secure Fort Caroline. The two fleets met in a brief skirmish off the coast, but it was not decisive. On 28 August 1565, the feast day of St. Augustine of Hippo, Menéndez's crew finally sighted land. They landed shortly after to found the settlement they named San Agustín (Saint Augustine). The settlement was founded in the former Timucua village of Seloy. The location of the settlement was chosen for its defensibility and proximity to a fresh water artesian spring. To this day, the locals of St. Augustine claim that it was here that Menéndez held the first Catholic mass in what is now the continental United States.

A French attack on St. Augustine was thwarted by a violent squall that ravaged the French naval forces. Taking advantage of this, Menéndez marched his troops overland to Fort Caroline on the St. Johns River, about 30 miles (50 km) north. The Spanish easily overwhelmed the lightly defended French garrison, which had been left with only a skeleton crew of 20 soldiers and about 100 others, killing most of the men and sparing about 60 women and children. The bodies of the victims were hung in trees with the inscription: "Hanged, not as Frenchmen, but as "Lutherans" (heretics)."[13][14] Menéndez renamed the fort San Mateo and marched back to St. Augustine, where he discovered that the shipwrecked survivors from the French ships had come ashore to the south of the settlement. A Spanish patrol encountered the remnants of the French force, and took them prisoner. Menéndez accepted their surrender, but then executed all of them except a few professing Catholics and some Protestant workers with useful skills, at what is now known as Matanzas Inlet (Matanzas is Spanish for "slaughters").[15] The site is very near the national monument Fort Matanzas, built in 1740-1742 by the Spanish.


Estatua pedro mendez-adelantado de la florida
Monument to Pedro Menéndez in Avilés, Spain

Menéndez is credited as the Spanish leader who first surveyed and authorized the building of the royal fortresses at major Caribbean ports. He was appointed Captain-General of the Spanish treasure fleet in 1554, when he sailed out with the Indies fleet and brought it back safely to Spain. This experience assured him of the strategic importance of the Bahama Channel and the position of Havana as the key port to rendezvous the annual Flota of treasure galleons. Later, in his capacity as adelantado and the private instrument of his sovereign's will, he was required to implement the royal policies of fortification for the defense of conquered territories in La Florida and the establishment of Castilian governmental institutions in desirable areas.[16]

Menéndez' military experience served him well when he led a successful overland expedition from St. Augustine to surprise and destroy the French garrison at Fort Caroline on the St. Johns River. On 20 September 1565, a hundred and thirty-two Frenchmen were massacred within the fort; only the women and children and a few drummers and trumpeters were spared.[17] Menéndez left a Spanish garrison at the captured fort, now renamed San Mateo (it was later destroyed and the Spanish there massacred as revenge by the French in 1568). Menéndez then pursued Jean Ribault, who had already left with four ships to attack the Spanish at St. Augustine. A storm wrecked three of the French ships near what is now the Ponce de León inlet and the flagship was grounded near Cape Canaveral.[18] The survivors made their way up the coast to an inlet, and it was here that Menéndez ordered them to be put to death after their surrender. The slaughter of these men led to the area of their execution being called 'Matanzas' ('Massacre' or 'Slaughters'). With the coast of Florida now firmly in Spanish hands, Menéndez then set to work finishing the construction of a fort in St. Augustine, establishing missions to the natives for the Catholic Church, and exploring the east coast and interior of the peninsula.

Treasure fleet

Pedro Menéndez de Aviles was appointed Captain General of the Fleet of the Indies in 1554 by King Phillip II of Spain. This position carried great honor, and it was an unusual appointment as the Casa de Contratación in Sevilla had appointed the Captain General in the past. Phillip II and Menéndez maintained a close relationship, Menéndez was even invited to be a part of the Royal Party when Phillip married Mary I, Queen of England.[19] Menéndez was the chief planner of the formalized Spanish treasure fleet convoy system that was to be the main link between Spain and her overseas territories. He was also the designer, in partnership with Álvaro de Bazán, of the great galleons that were employed to carry the trade between Cadiz in Spain and Vera Cruz in Mexico.[20]

Later years

Menéndez traveled to southwest Florida, looking for his son. There he made contact with the Calusa tribe, an advanced maritime people, at what is now known as Charlotte harbor. He negotiated an initial peace with their leader, King Carlos, which was solidified by Menéndez's marriage to Carlos's sister, who took the baptismal name Doña Antonia. The peace was uneasy, and Menéndez's use of his new wife as a hostage in negotiations with her people, as well as his negotiating with the Calusas' enemies, the Tocobagas, helped cause the decline of relations to all out war, which continued intermittently into the next century. Menéndez was unsuccessful in locating his son Juan.

Establishing a Spanish garrison of 200 men further up the coast, he sailed to what is today the Georgia coast making contact with the local Indians of St. Catherines Island[21] before returning to Florida, where he expanded Spanish power throughout southeastern Florida. In 1567, he marched south encountering the Ais (Jece) as he reached the Indian River near present-day Vero Beach.

In December 1571, Menéndez was sailing from Florida to Havana with two frigates when, as he tells it, "I was wrecked at Cape Canaveral because of a storm which came upon me, and the other boat was lost fifteen leagues further on in the Bahama Channel, in a river they call the Ais, because the cacique (chief) is so called. I, by a miracle reached the fort of St. Augustine with seventeen persons I was taking with me. Three times the Indians gave the order to attack me, and the way I escaped them was by ingenuity and arousing fear in them, telling them that behind me many Spaniards were coming who would slay them if they found them."[22] The Ais, like the Tequesta and Calusa tribes, proved hostile to Spanish settlement as war continued on and off until 1670.[23]

Menéndez later made contact with the less hostile Tequesta at their capital in El Portal (Miami) and was able to negotiate for three chieftains to accompany him to Cuba as translators to the Arawak. Although Menéndez left behind Jesuit missionaries Brother Francisco de Villareal and Padre Rogel in an attempt to convert the Tequesta to Roman Catholicism, the tribe were indifferent to their teachings. The Jesuits returned to St. Augustine after a year.

In August 1572, Menéndez led a ship with thirty soldiers and sailors to take revenge for the killing of the Jesuits of the Ajacán Mission in present-day Virginia.[24]

At the end of his life, he was appointed as governor of Cuba shortly after his arrival. He died in Santander, Spain, on 17 September 1574.


Casa natal pedro menendez
The house in Avilés where Pedro Menéndez de Aviles was born

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was born to an old noble family in the kingdom of Asturias.[25] He was one of the younger sons of Juan Alfonso Sánchez de Avilés, who had served the Catholic Monarchs in the war of Granada, and María Alonso y Menéndez Arango. His parents had twenty children, and Pedro was still a child when his father died. When Doña Maria remarried, the boy was sent to live with a relative who promised to oversee his education. Pedro and his guardian did not get along, and he ran away from home. He was found six months later in Valladolid and taken back to his foster home. Eventually he went off to fight in one of the wars with France, serving in a small armada against the French corsairs who harassed the maritime commerce of Spain.

After two years of fighting, Menéndez returned to his people, having conceived a plan to use part of his inheritance to build his own vessel. He built a patache, a small but fast row-sailer, suitable for patrolling the coast. He was then able to persuade a number of his relatives to sail with him in search of adventure. It was in this little ship that the youthful Menéndez won his first victory of command in an engagement with French corsairs who attacked three slow Spanish freighters off the coast of Galicia. Through daring and resourceful cunning he separated the two swift zabras (Biscayan frigates) that pursued him and captured them both, and drove away the third. The exploits of Pedro Menéndez soon became a topic of conversation on the waterfronts of Spain and France, and even in the royal courts.[26] The Seville merchants and the associated Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) were chagrined by the success of Menéndez' adventures and his growing influence with the Crown. In 1561 he was jailed by Casa officials for alleged smuggling but he was able to get his case transferred to court and win his release.

Philip II was alarmed when he received the report from France of the Spanish spy Dr. Gabriel de Enveja that Jean Ribault had secured for himself the title of "Captain-General and Viceroy of New France", and that an expedition of ships, soldiers and supplies was being fitted at Dieppe for a voyage to Florida—more than 500 arquebusiers and many dismounted bronze cannons were loaded aboard the vessels. Menéndez was now available to serve the king's purposes, having been granted an appointment as adelantado of La Florida, and standing to receive a large land grant and the title of marquis if he was successful in his commission. He advised the king of the strategic importance of exploring the Florida coast for discovery of trade passages to the riches of China and Molucca—waterways that might lead to the mines of New Spain and the Pacific — and of settling in several areas to defend the territory against incursions by the Indians and foreign powers.

Menéndez expected to make vast profits for himself and to increase the royal treasury with this Florida enterprise, which was to include the development of agriculture, fisheries, and naval stores. This ambitious venture was supported materially and politically by his kinship alliance of seventeen families from northern Spain, all tied by blood relations and marriage, who pledged their persons and their fortunes to the adelantado, hoping to enrich themselves with large grants of lands and the royal honors of civil and military offices in La Florida. The support of this familial elite of partners sharing his vision of enlarged estate and enhanced prestige gave Menéndez a loyal cadre of lieutenants and officials who not only had blood connection to him, but also had invested their futures in his success.[27]


Pedro Menendez High School on State Road 206 in Saint Johns County is named after him, as well as several streets in the area.

See also


  1. ^ R. A. Stradling (2003). The Armada of Flanders: Spanish Maritime Policy and European War, 1568-1668. Cambridge University Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-521-52512-1.
  2. ^ Lyon, Eugene (July 1988). "Pedro Menéndez's Strategic Plan for the Florida Peninsula". The Florida Historical Quarterly. Florida Historical Society. 67 (1): 12. JSTOR 30147920.
  3. ^ Margaret F. Pickett; Dwayne W. Pickett (2011). The European Struggle to Settle North America: Colonizing Attempts by England, France and Spain, 1521-1608. McFarland. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-7864-6221-6.
  4. ^ Federal Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Florida (1 January 1976). Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State. North American Book Dist LLC. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-403-02161-1.
  5. ^ Willis Fletcher Johnson (1920). The History of Cuba. B.F. Buck, Incorporated. pp. 205, 208.
  6. ^ a b Eugene Lyon (1991). "Pedro Menéndez de Avilés". In Gary Mormino (ed.). Spanish Pathways in Florida: 1492-1992/Los Caminos Espanoles En LA Florida 1492-1992 (in English and Spanish). Ann L Henderson (1st ed.). Pineapple Press Inc. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-56164-003-4. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  7. ^ Antonio de Arredondo; Mary Ross (1925). Arredondo's Historical Proof of Spain's Title to Georgia: A Contribution to the History of One of the Spanish Borderlands. University of California Press. p. 339.
  8. ^ Secrets of Spanish Florida – A Secrets of the Dead Special (26 December 2017)
  9. ^ Woodbury Lowery (1911). The Spanish settlements within the present limits of the United States: Florida, 1562-1574. G.P. Putnam. p. 144. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  10. ^ Pickett Pickett 2011, p.84
  11. ^ Lowery 1911, p.100
  12. ^ Lowery 1911, p.105
  13. ^ René Goulaine de Laudonnière (1853). L'histoire notable de la Floride: situèe es Indes Occidentales. P. Jannet. pp. 218–219. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
  14. ^ Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire (1773). Essais sur les Moeurs et l'esprit des Nations. p. 75. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
  15. ^ Richard R. Henderson; United States. National Park Service (March 1989). A Preliminary inventory of Spanish colonial resources associated with National Park Service units and national historic landmarks, 1987. United States Committee, International Council on Monuments and Sites, for the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service. p. 87. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  16. ^ Eugene Lyon (28 May 1983). The Enterprise of Florida: Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and the Spanish Conquest of 1565-1568. University Press of Florida. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-8130-0777-9. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  17. ^ Lyon 1983, p.122
  18. ^ Lyon 1983, p.124
  19. ^ extracted from the historical text available at Written History
  20. ^ "The galleon evolved in response to Spain's need for an ocean-crossing cargo ship that could beat off corsairs. Pedro de Menéndez, along with Álvaro de Bazán (later a hero of the Battle of Lepanto, is credited with developing the prototypes which had the long hull - and sometimes the oars - of a galley married to the poop and prow of a nao or merchantman. Galeones were classed as 1-, 2- or 3-deckers, and stepped two or more masts rigged with square sails and topsails (except for a lateen sail on the mizzenmast). Capacity ranged up to 900 tons or more. Menéndez' San Pelayo of 1565 was a 900-ton galleon which was also called a nao and galeaza. She carried 77 crewmen, 18 gunners, transported 317 soldiers and 26 families, as well as provisions and cargo. Her armament was iron." Menéndez: Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Captain General of the Ocean Sea. Albert C. Manucy. Pineapple Press, Inc. (1992). p.100
  21. ^ R. Edwin Green (1 November 2004). St. Simons Island: A Summary of Its History. The History Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-59629-017-4. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  22. ^ Rouse, Irving. Survey of Indian River Archaeology. Yale University Publications in Anthropology 45. ISBN 978-0-404-15668-8.
  23. ^ History of the Tekesta - Part 6. Late Contact Period (1565 to the Present).
  24. ^ Seth Mallios (28 August 2006). The Deadly Politics of Giving: Exchange And Violence at Ajacan, Roanoke, And Jamestown. University of Alabama Press. pp. 53–57. ISBN 978-0-8173-5336-0. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  25. ^ María Antonia Sáinz Sastre (1992). La Florida, Siglo XVI: Descubrimiento y Conquista. Editorial Mapfre. p. 131. ISBN 978-84-7100-475-8. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  26. ^ Albert C. Manucy (1983). Menéndez: Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Captain General of the Ocean Sea. Pineapple Press Inc. pp. 9–11. ISBN 978-1-56164-015-7. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  27. ^ Eugene Lyon (1996). "Settlement and Survival". In Michael Gannon (ed.). The New History of Florida. University Press of Florida. pp. 42–44. ISBN 978-0-8130-1415-9. Retrieved 13 December 2012.


  • Forbes, James Grant (1821). Sketches, Historical and Topographical, of the Floridas: More Particularly of East Florida. C.S. Van Winkle.
  • Green, R. Edwin. (1 November 2004). St. Simons Island: A Summary of Its History. The History Press. ISBN 978-1-59629-017-4.
  • Henderson, Richard R. (March 1989). A Preliminary inventory of Spanish colonial resources associated with National Park Service units and national historic landmarks, 1987. United States Committee, International Council on Monuments and Sites, for the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service.
  • History of the Tekesta - Part 6. Late Contact Period (1565 to the Present).
  • Laudonnière, René Goulaine de (1853). L'histoire notable de la Floride: situèe es Indes Occidentales. P. Jannet
  • Lowery, Woodbury. (1911). The Spanish settlements within the present limits of the United States: Florida, 1562-1574. G.P. Putnam.
  • Lyon, Eugene (28 May 1983). The Enterprise of Florida: Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and the Spanish Conquest of 1565-1568. University Press of Florida.
  • Lyon, Eugene (1996). The New History of Florida. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-1415-8.
  • Lyon, Eugene (1991). "Pedro Menéndez de Avilés". Edited by Gary Mormino (in English and Spanish). Spanish Pathways in Florida: 1492-1992/Los Caminos Espanoles En La Florida 1492-1992. Ann L Henderson (1st ed.). Pineapple Press Inc. ISBN 978-1-56164-003-4.
  • Mallios, Seth. (28 August 2006) The Deadly Politics of Giving: Exchange And Violence at Ajacan, Roanoke, And Jamestown. University of Alabama Press. ISBN 978-0-8173-5336-0.
  • Manucy, Albert C. (1992). Menéndez, Pedro Menéndez de Aviles, Captain General of the Open Sea. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, Inc. ISBN 1-56164-015-8.
  • Pickett, Margaret F. ; Pickett, Dwayne W. (15 February 2011). "Four". The European Struggle to Settle North America: Colonizing Attempts by England, France and Spain, 1521-1608. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-5932-2.
  • Ponce De Leon's Discovery, Written History section at
  • Rouse, Irving. Survey of Indian River Archaeology. Yale University Publications in Anthropology 45. ISBN 978-0-404-15668-8.
  • Sáinz Sastre, María Antonia. (1992). La Florida, Siglo XVI: Descubrimiento y Conquista. Editorial Mapfre. ISBN 978-84-7100-475-8.
  • Viele, John (1999). The Florida Keys: True stories of the perilous straits. Pineapple Press Inc. ISBN 1-56164-179-0.
  • Voltaire, Francois Marie Arouet (1773). Essais sur les Moeurs et l'esprit des Nations.

Primary resources

Further reading

Ais people

The Ais or Ays were a Native American people of eastern Florida. Their territory included coastal areas and islands from approximately Cape Canaveral to the Indian River. The Ais chiefdom consisted of a number of towns, each led by a chief who was subordinate to the paramount chief of Ais; the Indian River was known as the "River of Ais" to the Spanish. The Ais language has been linked to the Chitimacha language by linguist Julian Granberry, who points out that "Ais" means "the people" in the Chitimacha language.The best single source for information on the Ais at the end of the 17th century is Jonathan Dickinson's Journal, in which he makes observations on their appearance, diet, and customs. Dickinson and his party were shipwrecked, and spent several weeks among the Ais in 1696. By Dickinson's account, the chief of the town of Jece, near present-day Sebastian, was paramount to all of the coastal towns from the Jaega town of Jobe (at Jupiter Inlet) in the south to approximately Cape Canaveral in the north (that is, the length of the River of Ais).The Ais had already had considerable contact with Europeans by this time. The Spanish became acquainted with the Ais in middle of the 16th century. In 1566 Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, founder of St. Augustine, Florida, established a fort and mission at an Ais town, which the Spanish called Santa Lucía. After the Ais attacked the fort, killing 23 of the soldiers, the Spanish abandoned the fort and mission. Spain eventually established some control over the coast; at the time, the Ais considered them friends (comerradoes) and non-Spanish Europeans as enemies. A number of Ais men learned some Spanish, and a patrol of Spanish soldiers from St. Augustine arrived in Jece while the Dickinson party was there. One Ais man in Jece had been taken away by the English to work as a diver on a wreck east of Cuba. He got away when the ship put in for water in Cuba, and made his way back to his home via Havana and St. Augustine.


The Calusa ( kə-LOO-sə) were a Native American people of Florida's southwest coast. Calusa society developed from that of archaic peoples of the Everglades region. Previous indigenous cultures had lived in the area for thousands of years.

At the time of European contact in the 16th and 17th centuries, the historic Calusa were the people of the Caloosahatchee culture. They are notable for having developed a complex culture based on estuarine fisheries rather than agriculture. Calusa territory reached from Charlotte Harbor to Cape Sable, all of present-day Charlotte and Lee counties, and may have included the Florida Keys at times. They had the highest population density of South Florida; estimates of total population at the time of European contact range from 10,000 to several times that, but these are speculative.

Calusa political influence and control also extended over other tribes in southern Florida, including the Mayaimi around Lake Okeechobee, and the Tequesta and Jaega on the southeast coast of the peninsula. Calusa influence may have also extended to the Ais tribe on the central east coast of Florida.

Esteban de las Alas

Esteban de las Alas (died 1577) was a Spanish sailor who served as interim governor of La Florida from October 1567 to August 1570, in absence of official governor Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. He was also governor of Fort San Felipe, in Santa Elena, Florida, in 1566 and 1567.

Fort Caroline

Fort Caroline was an attempted French colonial settlement in Florida, located on the banks of the St. Johns River in present-day Duval County. It was established under the leadership of René Goulaine de Laudonnière on June 22, 1564, as a new territorial claim in French Florida and a safe haven for Huguenots. The French colony came into conflict with the Spanish, who established St. Augustine in September 1565, and Fort Caroline was sacked by Spanish troops under Pedro Menéndez de Avilés on September 20. The Spanish continued to occupy the site as San Mateo until 1569.The exact location where the fort once stood is unknown. In 1953 the National Park Service established the Fort Caroline National Memorial along the southern bank of the St. John's River near the point that commemorates Laudonnière's first landing. This is generally accepted by scholars as being in the vicinity of the original fort, though probably not the exact location. The memorial is now managed as a part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve although it remains a distinct National Park Service entity.


Galleons were large, multi-decked sailing ships first used by the Spanish as armed cargo carriers and later adopted by other European states from the 16th to 18th centuries during the age of sail and were the principal fleet units drafted for use as warships until the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the mid-1600s. Galleons generally carried three or more masts with a lateen fore-and-aft rig on the rear masts, were carvel built with a prominent squared off raised stern, and used square-rigged sail plans on their fore-mast and main-masts.

Such ships were the mainstay of maritime commerce into the early 19th century, and were often drafted into use as auxiliary naval war vessels—indeed, were the mainstay of contending fleets through most of the 150 years of the Age of Exploration—before the Anglo-Dutch wars brought purpose-built ship-rigged warships that thereafter dominated war at sea during the remainder of the age of sail.

Hernando de Miranda

Hernando de Miranda (1550–1593) was a Spanish conquistador and explorer who was governor of Spanish Florida from 1575–1577. He took office after the death of the first governor of the province, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. He was the brother-in-law of the subsequent governor, Pedro Menéndez de Márquez, and the brother of Gutierre de Miranda, who would also become governor.

History of St. Augustine, Florida

The history of St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the United States, began in 1565 when it was founded by the Spanish admiral, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. The Spanish Crown issued an asiento to Menéndez, signed by King Philip II on March 20, 1565, granting him various titles, including that of adelantado of Florida, and expansive privileges to exploit the lands in the vast territory of Spanish Florida, called La Florida by the Spaniards. This contract directed Menéndez to explore the region's Atlantic coast and report on its features, with the object of finding a suitable location to establish a permanent colony from which the Spanish treasure fleet could be defended and Spain's claimed territories in North America protected against incursions by other European powers.

Juan Pardo (explorer)

Juan Pardo was a Spanish explorer who was active in the later half of the sixteenth century. He led a Spanish expedition through what is now North and South Carolina and into eastern Tennessee on the orders of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, who had built Fort San Felipe (1566), and established Santa Elena, on present-day Parris Island; these were the first Spanish settlements in what is now South Carolina. While leading an expedition deeper in-country, Pardo founded Fort San Juan at Joara, the first European settlement (1567–1568) in the interior of North Carolina.

List of colonial governors of Florida

The colonial governors of Florida governed Florida during its colonial period (before 1821). The first European known to arrive there was Juan Ponce de León in 1513, but the governorship did not begin until 1565, when Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded St. Augustine and was declared Governor and Adelantado of Florida. This district was subordinated to the Viceroyalty of New Spain. In 1763, following the transfer of Florida to Britain, the territory was divided into West Florida and East Florida, with separate governors. This division was maintained when Spain resumed control of Florida in 1783, and continued as provincial divisions with the Spanish Constitution of 1812. The Spanish transferred control of Florida to the United States in 1821, and the organized, incorporated Florida Territory was established on March 30, 1822. This became the modern State of Florida on March 3, 1845.

Martín de Argüelles

Martín de Argüelles, Jr. (born 1566) was the first white child known to have been born in what is now the United States. His birthplace of St. Augustine, Florida (San Agustín, La Florida) is the oldest continuously occupied, European-founded city in the United States.

Matanzas Bay

Matanzas Bay is a saltwater bay in St. Johns County, Florida; the entrance to the bay from the South Atlantic is via St. Augustine inlet. Bodies of water that connect to the bay in addition to the South Atlantic are clockwise from the inlet:

Salt Run: an inlet of Anastasia Island creating a peninsula of the eastern portion of Anastasia State Park.

Matanzas River: a tidal channel; part of the Intracoastal Waterway which flows in an easterly direction then south for approximately 15 miles, separating Anastasia Island from the mainland. Another tidal channel the San Sebastian River flows westerly from the Matanzas River creating a peninsula of the original Spanish era section of St. Augustine.

Hospital Creek: tidal channel flowing north from confluence of Matanzas Bay and North River. Creek in which Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sailed into and initially established St. Augustine on its mainland shore.

Tolomato River (also known locally and historically in the British period as the North River): tidal channel flowing northMunicipalities: St. Augustine and Vilano Beach.

Tides: The average fall of the tides in Matanzas Bay is 4.5 feet between high and low tide.

Bridges: State road A1A crosses the bay via the Bridge of Lions which connects the mainland portion of St. Augustine with the portion of the city located on Anastasia Island.

Wetlands: A large portion of the tidal wetlands directly fronting the bay have been obliterated due to construction of the seawall in the old quarter of St. Augustine and the construction of Davis Shores a residential development created on reclaimed land on Anastasia Island and a subsequent seawall. The portions of the Intracoastal Waterway connected to Matanzas Bay have wetlands of varying amounts and degrees of natural state.

Parks: Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, Spanish era fort completed in 1675 and Anastasia State Park.

Matanzas River

The Matanzas River is a body of water in St. Johns and Flagler counties in the U.S. state of Florida. It is a narrow saltwater bar-bounded estuary sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by Anastasia Island.

The Matanzas River is 23 miles (37 km) in length and extends from St. Augustine Inlet southward to approximately 6.5 miles (10.5 km) south of the Matanzas Inlet on the southern tip of Anastasia Island. The river is part of the Intracoastal Waterway.

The Matanzas River at St. Augustine was the main entrance to the historic city, America's oldest port. The body of water is often referred to as the Matanzas Harbor in the immediate vicinity of the city's waterfront. The southern portion of the Matanzas River was traditionally considered the "backdoor" to the city of St. Augustine, and control of the river was considered a strategic necessity for early Spanish colony at St. Augustine. Spanish engineers and laborers built Fort Matanzas in the 18th century to control access to the river from Matanzas Inlet, about 14 miles (23 km) south of St. Augustine.

The Matanzas River supports an extensive tidal marsh habitat. Extensive conservation efforts including the Matanzas marsh, Faver-Dykes State Park, Princess Place preservation area, Pellicer Place preservation area, Pellicer Creek Aquatic Preserve, the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the Moses Creek conservation area have been established to preserve the ecosystem. The preserved areas include salt marshes, mangrove tidal wetlands, oyster bars, estuarine lagoons, upland habitat, and marine environments. The Matanzas River faces several pollution issues, mostly related to urbanization in St. Augustine and the northern portion of Anastasia Island.

Two major bridges cross the Matanzas River, the Bridge of Lions and the Mickler-O'Connell Bridge, both between St. Augustine and Anastasia Island.

The Matanzas River was named by Spanish forces for a massacre, led by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés of Spain, of a group of several hundred shipwrecked French Huguenots from Fort Caroline, led by Jean Ribault. The Huguenots were executed somewhere near the present site of Matanzas Inlet in 1565. Menéndez had been ordered to kill all Protestants he found in the New World. "Matanzas" means "killings" or "slaughters" in Spanish. Matanzas is thus the tenth-oldest surviving European place-name in the US.

Pedro Menendez High School

Pedro Menendez High School is a public high school in the St. Johns County School District, located in southern St. Johns County, Florida (United States). It was named for Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, a sixteenth-century Spanish admiral and pirate hunter who founded St. Augustine, the first permanent European settlement and oldest port city in what is now the continental United States, on August 28, 1565.

It has a student body of over 1,300 students. The school building is a two-story octagon with an open courtyard in the center. The gymnasium and auditorium are attached on the east and west sides, respectively. The school was built simultaneously with Bartram Trail High School; Menendez was intended to relieve overcrowding at St. Augustine High School. The school opened August 28, 2000, and graduated its first class in 2001.

Their curriculum offers academy programs in the areas of business & computer technology, health science and architectural & building sciences.

Pedro Menéndez Márquez

Pedro Menéndez Márquez (? – 1600) was a Spanish military officer, conquistador, and governor of Spanish Florida. He was a nephew of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, who had been appointed adelantado (an elite military and administrative position) of La Florida by King Philip II. Márquez was also related to Diego de Velasco, Hernando de Miranda, Gutierre de Miranda, Juan Menéndez Márquez, and Francisco Menéndez Márquez, all of whom served as governors of La Florida.

Philippe Park

Philippe Park is a Pinellas County park located in Safety Harbor, Florida. The park is named after Count Odet Philippe, who is credited with introducing grapefruit to Florida. It is situated on 122 acres (0.49 km2) that was once part of Philippe's plantation. Philippe was the county's first non-native settler, arriving in 1842. Philippe is buried in the park but the exact location is undetermined.A Tocobaga Indian mound that is situated in the park is a National Historic Landmark known as the Safety Harbor Site.

The temple mound is one of the last remnants of the Tocobaga on the Pinellas Peninsula. Records indicate that Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the founder of St. Augustine, Florida, visited the site in 1566 to help broker a truce between the Tocobaga and the Calusa to the south. During the visit Pedro Menéndez founded a Spanish outpost nearby, but by 1567 it was reported to have been wiped out by the Tocobaga. Eventually the temple mound was deserted. The Tocobaga succumbed to European diseases, and many were forced into slavery working in the Caribbean.

Santa Elena (Spanish Florida)

Santa Elena, a Spanish settlement on what is now Parris Island, South Carolina, was the capital of Spanish Florida from 1566 to 1587. It was established under Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the first governor of Spanish Florida. There had been a number of earlier attempts to establish colonies in the area by both the Spanish and the French, who had been inspired by earlier accounts of the plentiful land of Chicora. Menéndez's Santa Elena settlement was intended as the new capital of the Spanish colony of La Florida, shifting the focus of Spanish colonial efforts north from St. Augustine, which had been established in 1565 to oust the French from their colony of Fort Caroline. Santa Elena was ultimately built at the site of the abandoned French outpost of Charlesfort, founded in 1562 by Jean Ribault.

Santa Elena was founded following the destruction of the French Fort Caroline by Menéndez in 1565. The settlement housed a sizeable community, and became the base of operations for the Jesuits and military working in the northern zone of Spanish Florida. From this base the Spanish founded a number of other ephemeral forts as far inland as the Appalachian Mountains, but resistance from local Native American tribes and the lack of interest of Spain in the area, caused these to be abandoned, relocated or destroyed. Santa Elena was ultimately abandoned in 1587, with its survivors relocating to St. Augustine. The Spanish never pressed their colonial claims to the area again, focusing on other areas of the American continent.

Spanish treasure fleet

The Spanish treasure fleet, or West Indies Fleet from Spanish Flota de Indias, also called silver fleet or plate fleet (from the Spanish plata meaning "silver"), was a convoy system of sea routes organized by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 1790, which linked Spain with its territories in America across the Atlantic. The convoys were general purpose cargo fleets used for transporting a wide variety of items, including agricultural goods, lumber, various metal resources such as silver and gold, gems, pearls, spices, sugar, tobacco, silk, and other exotic goods from the overseas territories of the Spanish Empire to the Spanish mainland. Spanish goods such as oil, wine, textiles, books and tools were transported in the opposite direction. The West Indies fleet was the first permanent transatlantic trade route in history. Similarly, the Manila galleons were the first permanent trade route across the Pacific.

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine (Spanish: San Agustín) is a city in the Southeastern United States, on the Atlantic coast of northeastern Florida. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, it is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. It is the second oldest city in United States territory after San Juan, Puerto Rico (founded in 1521).The county seat of St. Johns County, St. Augustine is part of Florida's First Coast region and the Jacksonville metropolitan area. According to the 2010 census, the city's population was 12,975. The United States Census Bureau's 2013 estimate of the city's population was 13,679, while the urban area had a population of 71,379 in 2012.St. Augustine was founded on September 8, 1565, by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida's first governor. He named the settlement "San Agustín", as his ships bearing settlers, troops, and supplies from Spain had first sighted land in Florida eleven days earlier on August 28, the feast day of St. Augustine. The city served as the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years. It was designated as the capital of British East Florida when the colony was established in 1763 until it was ceded to Spain in 1783.

Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1819, and St. Augustine was designated the capital of the Florida Territory upon ratification of the Adams–Onís Treaty in 1821. The Florida National Guard made the city its headquarters that same year. The territorial government moved and made Tallahassee the capital in 1824. Since the late 19th century, St. Augustine's distinct historical character has made the city a major tourist attraction.


Tocobaga (occasionally Tocopaca) was the name of a chiefdom, its chief, and its principal town during the 16th century. The chiefdom was centered around the northern end of Old Tampa Bay, the arm of Tampa Bay that extends between the present-day city of Tampa and northern Pinellas County. The exact location of the principal town is believed to be the archeological Safety Harbor Site, which gives its name to the Safety Harbor culture, of which the Tocobaga are the most well-known group.

The name "Tocobaga" is often applied to all of the native peoples of the immediate Tampa Bay area during the first Spanish colonial period (1513-1763). While they were culturally very similar, most of the villages on the eastern and southern shores of Tampa Bay were likely affiliated with other chiefdoms, such as the Pohoy, Uzita, and Mocoso. Study of archaeological artifacts has provided insight into the everyday life of the Safety Harbor culture. However, little is known about the political organization of the early peoples of the Tampa Bay area. The scant historical records come exclusively from the journals and other documents made by members of several Spanish expeditions that traversed the area in the 1500s.

The Tocobaga and their neighbors disappeared from the historical record by the early 1700s, as diseases brought by European explorers decimated the local population and survivors were displaced by the raids and incursions of other indigenous groups from the north. The Tampa Bay area was virtually uninhabited for over a century.

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