Historic Pensacola

By Bauer, Deborah L. | Southeastern Archaeology, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Historic Pensacola


Bauer, Deborah L., Southeastern Archaeology


Historic Pensacola. JOHN J. CLUNE JR. and MARGO S. SPRINGFIELD. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 2009. xi +187 pp., illus., biblio., index. $27.00 (hardcover), ISBN 978-0-8130-3256-3.

Reviewed by Deborah L. Bauer

In 2009, the city of Pensacola, Florida, celebrated the 450th anniversary of its founding by Spanish explorer Don Tristan de Luna. Historic Pensacola, a volume authored by John J. Clune Jr. and Margo S. Stiingfield of the University of West Florida, was published to coincide with the year-long commemoration of that anniversary. Clune, a historian of colonial Spanish Florida, and Stringfield, a public archaeologist, worked to produce an interdisciplinary narrative of Pensacola's diverse history between the mid-sixteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Clune and Stringfield draw on a wide variety of historical primary source documents, archaeological reports, and recovered artifacts to construct a narrative that traces the story of Pensacola from its founding by the Spanish in 1559 until Florida became a territory of the United States in 1821.

Historic Pensacola is the first volume published in the University Press of Florida's Colonial Towns and Cities of the Atlantic World series. The editors hope the series will increase public awareness for, and appreciation of, the diverse nature of colonial towns and cities. At the same time, the series hopes to showcase scholarly work by historians and archaeologists whose research focuses on the local history of colonial cities juxtaposed against the backdrop of those cities relation to the larger Atlantic world of the early modern period. Clune, the coauthor of Historic Pensacola, serves as a coeditor of the series along with Gregory A. Waselkov. Historic Pensacola represents the type of publication to which all subsequent volumes in the series should aspire.

Clune and Stringfield arranged the book chronologically in five discrete parts that reflect a distinct chapter of Pensacola's colorful past. Each chapter begins with an explanation of how the discoveries of archaeological sites in Pensacola illustrate forgotten portions of the city's history. An elucidation of the major sites associated with each period of the city's development is followed by the resumption of the chronological narrative of Pensacola's history. Clune and Stringfield dedicated the final portion of each chapter to reconstructing the profile of the settlement and its colonists. Artifacts and botanical and faunal remains recovered from the sites previously introduced highlight settlement patterns and cultural trends in a way easily accessible to professional scholars and the general public. Each chapter concludes with a concise summary that transitions to the next period, and between each chapter Clune and Stringfield have inserted interesting sidebars about colonial life, including recipes for delicacies such as hardtack, Champurrado, Cocido Español, colonial punch, and Gaspache Salad.

Chapter 1, "First Settlement, 1559-1561," briefly treats the early exploration of Florida's Gulf Coast by Spanish explorers such as Panfilo de Narváez and Hernando de Soto. However, the major focus of the chapter recounts the story of the de Luna expedition to Pensacola Bay in 1559. Tristan de Luna y Arellano, a wealthy Spanish nobleman, arrived in Florida with the purpose of establishing the first of three planned settlements in the southeastern portion of North America. De Luna intended to follow the founding of Pensacola with a second settlement at Coosa in northwest Georgia /northeast Alabama, and the planned territorial capital on the South Carolina coast at Santa Elena. Supported by King Philip II of Spain, the crown hoped that de Luna's expedition would provide protection against the anticipated encroachment of the French and the British, who hoped to raid Spanish treasure gallons. Unfortunately, a massive hurricane simultaneously destroyed de Luna's fleet on September 9, 1559, and Spain's hopes for founding a successful colony based at Pensacola. …

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