The City that Was Never Conquered
The mainland of the North American continent was first sighted by the Spanish explorer and treasure hunter Don Juan Ponce de Leon on Easter, March 27, 1513. He claimed the land for Spain and named it La Florida, meaning “Land of Flowers”. Between 1513 and 1563 the government of Spain launched six expeditions to settle Florida, but all failed. the French succeeded in establishing a fort and colony on the St. Johns River in 1564 and, in doing so, threatened Spain’s treasure fleets whic h sailed along Florida’s shoreline returning to Spain. As a result of this incursion into Florida, King Phillip II named Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, Spain’s most experienced admiral, as governor of Florida, instructing him to explore and to colonize the territory. Menendez was also instructed to drive out any pirates or settlers from other nations, should they be found there.
When Menendez arrived off the coast of Florida, it was August 28, 1565, the Feast Day of St. Augustine. 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.
Utilizing brilliant military maneuvers, Menendez destroyed the French garrison on the St. Johns River and, with the help of a hurricane, also defeate