Pedro Menéndez de Avilés – First Spanish Settlement in America St Augustine – 1565 AD

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was Spanish General and Explorer who established the first settlement of Spain in America, St Augustine, Florida. The settlement was established in the year 1565. He established strong Spanish footholds in Florida and became the first governor of Spanish Florida. He was born in 1519, Aviles, Spain. Intially he was an admiral and later took political position due to his talent.

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Journey to the New World

In 1560 the king of Spain, Phillip II decided to appoint Pedro as the Captain General and sent him to conquer Florida Peninsula. Around 1561, son of Pedro,  Juan, was lost somewhere in this region and Pedro had a few good reasons to explore Florida. At that time Florida was under the control of French general René Goulaine de Laudonnière, who ruled Florida from his Fort Caroline. Later in 1565 Pedro established St Augustine and captured Fort Caroline.

Later Journey

Pedro was in search of his son after defeating the French he started negotiating with the local Calusa Tribe in order to locate his son Juan. He married the daughter of Calusa Tribe’s king but the relationship didn’t turn out well and he fled from Florida. On his way, in 1571, he was attacked many times by the natives. He was able to establish good relation with Tribe Tequesta. After a lot of hardship he finally reached Cuba. He was soon appointed governor of Cuba. He left Cuba in two years and went back to Spain.

He died in Spain on 17 September, 1574.

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