Pedro Menendez de Aviles

Spanish Sailor & Colonist

Born: 1519

Died: 1574

In 1549, Menendez de Aviles was commissioned by Charles V to rid the coasts of Spain of pirates. A brutal, but effective fighter, he was named the captain of the Indies fleet five years later.

King Phillip II, concerned about Spainís possessions in the New World, later sent Menendez de Aviles to Florida in order to establish a colony, in an attempt to prevent the French from establishing their own colony in the area. The expedition landed in St. Augustine in 1565, where they built the famous St. Augustine Fort (Still standing today). Shortly thereafter, Menendez de Aviles and his men attacked the French colony of Fort Caroline, and massacred the inhabitants.

Menendez de Aviles was appointed as governor of Cuba in 1567. He developed a convoy system to protect the Spanish treasure ships returning to Spain. He explored the Atlantic coast in 1568 and 1570, and built forts as far north as Helena, an Island off the coast of modern-day South Carolina. He also sent an expeditionary party up Chesapeake Bay and the Rappahannock River. He was recalled by his King to Spain to organize a force against the English, but died there before this new adventure began.

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