First Encounters: Spanish Explorations in the Caribbean and the United States, 1492-1570

By Jerald T. Milanich; Susan Milbrath | Go to book overview

Eugene Lyon


II Pedro Menéndez's Plan for Settling La Florida

The efforts of the several sixteenth-century explorers of North America were based on shared geographical and other knowledge, some fact and some fiction. Each learned from those who had gone before. And the later adventurers inherited the wisdom or folly of their predecessors, whatever their nationalities.

Among the motives that had brought them was the lure of precious metals--the dream of finding another Cuzco or Tenochtitlán. But they also burned with the desire to build proprietary empires, earning the noble titles appurtenant to them. By creating trading and agricultural settlements, they hoped to replicate Castile, France, or England in North America. They sought passage through the continent to the Pacific and the East Indies. The Spaniards also expected to advance the Evangel among native Americans, check the ambitions of rival states, and enlarge their sovereign's domains.

What then were the continental strategies of one of the most important entrepreneurs of the Spanish conquest, the one who made a lasting foundation in North America, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés? How did his motives relate to the Florida peninsula?

By virtue of his asiento, or contract, with Philip II, Menéndez was created adelantado and required to explore a Florida of continental

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