La Florida


Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

The key figure in the conquest of La Florida, known for his piety, navigational skills, and loyalty to King Philip II of Spain. After defeating French forces in Florida, he took possession of the land in 1565 in hopes of building a commercial enterprise.

La Florida

The French defeat

Of the 1,000 Frenchmen in the conflict, about 300 were killed. Others fled or were captured, while "the most useful" were taken prisoner. Among the captives were the French navigator, four carpenters and caulkers, twelve sailors and some musicians.

A shattered dream

He commenced his colonization plan by setting up more than ten fortresses between Tequesta (Miami) and Tennessee. When he died (1574), only two remained: St Augustine and Santa Elena.


Coffin and portrait of Menéndez de Avilés

Mission of Nombre de Dios Museum, St Augustine, Florida.

La Florida enterprise

The great fleet of Menéndez de Avilés

Menéndez de Avilés left from Cadiz on June 29, 1565, with a great fleet and nearly 1,000 people on-board!

• The Royal Galleon San Pelayo (900 metric tons, 992 US tons).

• Four longboats (75 metric tons / 82 US tons and 60 metric tons / 66 US tons).

• A galley.

• A brigantine.

• Two caravels.

• Two ships.


Agreement with Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, by which he undertakes to conquer and discover in peace, friendship and Christianity. March 15, 1565.

Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla.


Fort Caroline, built by the French next to Mayo river, converted by the Spanish into San Mateo.

Theodor de Bry. Florida Memory, Tallahasse. FL.


Provisions paid for by Menéndez de Avilés; they included, among others: tuna fish, chickpeas, beans, rice, bacon and seeds.

Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla.


Provisions supplied by the Spanish Crown; they included, among others: cheese, oil, garlic, artillery and other weaponry.

Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla.

What did Menéndez de Avilés's fleet carry?

It carried a large quantity of "useful" people, food, tools and weapons in order to supply the crew, and carry out the conquest and colonization of La Florida.


Manila Galleon, prototype of the large Spanish galleons.

Fundación Nao Victoria, Sevilla, España.


First Spanish forts and garrisons in La Florida, 1565-1587.


Replicas of the English ships that landed in Jamestown (Virginia) in December, 1606.

Mr. Virginia. Williamsburg, VA.


Santa Elena Fort, one of the first in La Florida, 1576 (today, Parris Island, South Carolina).

Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla.