Pedro Menéndez de Avilés bigraphy, stories - Spanish explorer

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés : biography

15 February 1519 - 17 September 1574

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés (15 February 1519–17 September 1574) was a Spanish admiral and explorer from the region of Asturias, Spain, remembered for planning the first regular trans-oceanic convoys and for founding St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. This was the first successful Spanish foothold in La Florida and the most significant city in the region for nearly three hundred years. St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the continental United States. Menéndez subsequently became the first governor of Spanish Florida.Viele, John (1999). The Florida Keys: True stories of the perilous straits. Pineapple Press Inc, p. 20. ISBN 1-56164-179-0.

Menéndez made his career as a sailor in the service of the Spanish king, Philip II of Spain. His first plans for a voyage to Florida revolved around searching for his son, Juan, who had been shipwrecked there in 1561. However, following the founding of Fort Caroline in present-day Jacksonville by French Huguenots under René Goulaine de Laudonnière, he was commissioned to conquer the peninsula as Adelantado. He established St. Augustine in 1565, and later took over Fort Caroline and displaced the French. Firmly established as governor, Menéndez turned his focus to exploring the area and establishing further fortifications. He returned to Spain in 1567 and was also appointed governor of Cuba. He made one last voyage to Florida in 1572, and died at Santander, Spain, in 1574.

Family

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was born to an old noble family in the kingdom of Asturias. He was one of the younger sons of Juan Alfonso Sánchez de Avilés, who had served the Catholic Monarchs in the war of Granada, and María Alonso y Menéndez Arango. His parents had twenty children, and Pedro was still a child when his father died. When Doña Maria remarried, the boy was sent to live with a relative who promised to oversee his education. Pedro and his guardian did not get along, and he ran away from home. He was found six months later in Valladolid and taken back to his foster home. Eventually he went off to fight in one of the wars with France, serving in a small armada against the French corsairs who harassed the maritime commerce of Spain.

After two years of fighting Menéndez returned to his people, having conceived a plan to use part of his inheritance to build his own vessel. He built a patache, a small but fast row-sailer, suitable for patrolling the coast. He was then able to persuade a number of his relatives to sail with him in search of adventure. It was in this little ship that the youthful Menéndez won his first victory of command in an engagement with French corsairs who attacked three slow Spanish freighters off the coast of Galicia. Through daring and resourceful cunning he separated the two swift zabras (Biscayan frigates) that pursued him and captured them both, and drove away the third. The exploits of Pedro Menéndez soon became a topic of conversation on the waterfronts of Spain and France, and even in the royal courts. The Seville merchants and the associated Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) were chagrined by the success of Menéndez' adventures and his growing influence with the Crown. In 1561 he was jailed by Casa officials for alleged smuggling but he was able to get his case transferred to court and win his release.

Philip II was alarmed when he received the report from France of the Spanish spy Dr. Gabriel de Enveja that Jean Ribault had secured for himself the title of "Captain-General and Viceroy of New France", and that an expedition of ships, soldiers and supplies was being fitted at Dieppe for a voyage to Florida—more than 500 arquebusiers and many dismounted bronze cannons were loaded aboard the vessels. Menéndez was now available to serve the king's purposes, having been granted an appointment as adelantado of La Florida, and standing to receive a large land grant and the title of marquis if he was successful in his commission. He advised the king of the strategic importance of exploring the Florida coast for discovery of trade passages to the riches of China and Molucca—waterways that might lead to the mines of New Spain and the Pacific—and of settling several colonies to defend the territory against incursions by the Indians and foreign powers.

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Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine