Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Pedro MenÚndez de AvilÚs
Pedro Menendez de Aviles was about forty-six years when he had risen to the highest rank in the Spanish navy ; he was a man of huge fortune. In 1554, he commanded the vessel which bore as his king to England to marry Queen Mary; and in 1561, he commanded the great treasure-fleet of galleons on their voyage from Mexico to Spain. When he had delivered the fleet in Spain, he asked permission to go back in search of the lost vessel, but was then refused. This was the vessel that he lost his son and other family and friends on. However, after a couple of years of delay, his request was granted only on the condition that he would explore and colonize Florida. He fitted out an expedition for the purpose at his own expense, but when he was about to sail, orders came to him to kill all Protestants he might find there, or in whatever corner of the world he should discover them, on land or sea, in forests or marshes.
Pedro was credited as the Spanish leader who began the royal fortresses at major Caribbean ports. He was appointed captain-general of the armada de la carrera in 1554 where he took out the Indies fleets 1555 and brought back safety to Spain. The experienced he gained assured him of the importance of the Bahama Channel .
When Pedro arrived off the coast of Florida, it was August 28, 1565, the Feast Day of St. Augustine. Pedro Menendez De Aviles, led a charge to Florida, wiping out a French colony and building a Spanish base. Eleven days later, he and his 600 soldiers and settlers came ashore at the site of the Timucuan Indian village of Seloy with banners flying and trumpets sounding. He hastily fortified the fledgling village and named it St. Augustine.
Pedro's brilliant military maneuvers, allowed him to destroy the French garrison on the St. Johns River and, with the help of a hurricane, also defeated the French fleet. With the coast of Florida firmly in Spanish hands, he then set to work building the town, establishing missions to the Indians for the Church, and exploring the land.
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