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

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

Edward Chaney

Kathleen Deagan


12 / St. Augustine and the La Florida Colony: New Life-styles in a New Land

Recent research by historians and archaeologists has shown the story of St. Augustine to be as dramatic as that of the first English settlements. The tribulations faced by the settlers of St. Augustine were not greatly different from those that confronted the pioneers at Jamestown and Plymouth. What was distinct, however, was the way in which the Spanish reacted to these hardships. Our expanding knowledge of life at St. Augustine has informed us about more general issues than survival--about the European perception of the New World and the ways in which early settlers responded to the inhabitants and unfamiliar resources of North America.

In the fall of 1565, St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuously occupied European community in what is now the mainland United States, was founded by Spain 20 years before England's first, unsuccessful attempt to establish a settlement on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, and more than 40 years before the landing at Jamestown. By the end of the sixteenth century, St. Augustine was a wellestablished town, while the other European powers had not yet succeeded in their efforts at New World colonization.

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés arrived in Florida on 6 September 1565 with a force of 8oo soldiers, sailors, and colonists, including the

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