This was the land of the Timucuans. The village of Seloy where the Fountain of Youth is today was one of 30 villages
of the tribe of Saturiba. Their great chief was called holata ico in Timucuan. All the chiefs of the villages were drawn
from a single clan of nobles named for the sacred white deer. The leaves of the native holly Ilex vomitoria were used
to brew cassina tea (it had a very high content of caffeine). The natives ate claims and oysters, fish, beans, pumpkins,
squashes and corn. They hunted deer, turkeys and other animals.
1st Spanish Period - The beginnings of the City of Stone
St. Augustine is known as the oldest, continually occupied, European settlement in the United States.
Juan Ponce de Leon
Juan Ponce de Leon, the European discover of Florida arrived somewhere on the east coast of Florida on March 23,
1513. (Outline of the life of Juan Ponce de Leon)The key is somewhere. His landing location is not known. You may
go to the Fountain of Youth, but the importance of that place is that it may contain the site of the first fort for the
Spanish and it was the site of the ancient Native American city of Seloy. The statue of Juan Ponce de Leon is located
at the end of the Plaza near the Bridge of Lions (Leon = lion). The statue is a duplicate of the Ponce de Leon statue in
San Juan Puerto Rico and was donated by Dr. Andrew Anderson. Juan Ponce de Leon did give Florida its name:
Paucula de Flores (land of flowers) in honor of his Easter arrival time. (For A History of Juan Ponce de Leon's
Voyages to Florida by T. Frederick Davis)
Voyages of Discovery
The next Florida explorer was Pamfilo de Narvaez who arrives in 1528 in the Tampa Bay area with a crew of 300
only 4 survive (read the Journey of Alvar Nenez Cabeza de Veca). In 1539 Hernando de Soto arrives in the same
area with an army of 570 men (read Narratives of the Career of Hernando de Soto). In June of 1559 Tristan de
Luna starts and abandons a settlement in Pensacola Bay. Angel de Villafane would be the final attempt before Pedro
Menendez. There were also smaller expeditions of Miruelo (1516), Grijalva (1518), Pineda (1519), Gomez (1525),
Ayllon (1526), Verazzano (French - 1529) (The Voyage of John de Verazzano) and Bazares (1558). (See this site
for the documents of Villafane, Bazares and Ayllon)
The French were the next to arrive in the St. Augustine area. Gaspard de Coligny persuaded the French King to
create a French Protestant colony in the new world. Jean Ribault of Dieppe arrived April 13, 1562 after leaving Haure
on February 18. . He explored the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coastline. Rene Laudonniere (picture) was
another famous French explorer in Florida. The water around the St. Augustine area was named the River of Dolphins.
The original French area was at Paris Island near Charleston. However due to religious warfare in France the
Charlesfort area was doomed. With only 26 persons they built a boat and were stranded in the ocean. One of the
crew was sacrificed to save the rest. Finally an English ship picked them up and took them to England.
On June 30, 1564 Rene de Laudonniere Poiton, House of Chatillon founded Fort Caroline (named after France's
King Charles IX.)The French occupied the area of St. Johns Bluff near the City of Jacksonville. Jacques LeMoyne, an
artist, would draw pictures of the Native Americans. Through his work much information about the Native Americans
have been gained. Jean Ribault has a monument there. The Spanish found out about this colony because of Fort
Caroline deserters that were caught attempting to raid Spanish ships in the Gulf of Mexico. The remainder were
resupplied by Capt Hawkins and were prepared to return to France. However, Jean Ribault arrived back at the
colony in August of 1565 to resupply the colony.
Founding of the City
On August 28 land was sighted on St. Augustine's Feast Day. On September 7 Captains Morales and Patino with 30
men built an entrenchment to protect people while the site of the Fort was being chosen. The City of St. Augustine was
settled by Pedro Menendez de Aviles (Menendez Coat of Arms you can compare this with the City of Aviles Coat of
Arms) on September 8, 1565 as a counter to the French in Fort Caroline (today's Jacksonville) and a continuing
quest for a North American presence that would serve as a guard and rescue mission for the Spanish treasure ships
traveling the Gulf Stream back to Spain (outline of the life of Pedro Menendez). The third part of Pedro Menendez de
Aviles (picture on tile at the Oldest House) quest was to convert the Native Americans to the Catholic faith.
Menendez sighted land from his ship Pearl on August 28 which is the Feast Day of Saint Augustine.
Saint Augustine is the patron saint of Aviles, Spain and the patron saint of brewers (among other things). You may find
more art work about St. Augustine in the Cathedral or the Memorial Presbyterian Church. The ultimate advantage
today of having Saint Augustine as the patron saint is that both Catholics and Protestants look at his writings as
important contributions to Christian thought.
Landing of Menendez
The Mission of Numbre de Dios off of today's San Marco Avenue marks the landing spot of Pedro Menendez de
Aviles and the site of an early Spanish mission to the Native Americans. You can see a statue of Father Lopez at the
mission. He made a diary of the landing. An alternative site for the first landing would be the very nearby Fountain of
Youth. The first fort was a recycled Council Chamber.
Pedro Menendez removes French (Deus vult!)
Pedro Menendez attacks the French Fort Caroline (in Jacksonville today). On September 20, 1565 he captures the
fort and renames it Fort San Mateo. Jacques Ribault, son of Jean Ribault, in the ship Pearl helps Laudonnere (he
would return to France and write: L'histoire notable de la Floride, contenant les trois voyages faits en icelles par
des capitaines et pilotes franceais ), LeMoyne and forty to fifty French escape. At the Fort 140 settlers are killed.
60 women and children survive. Captain Mallard saved most of the refugees. Ribault had conceived of the sea attack
without knowing that Menendez was attacking him. (in what turned out to be a hurricane). Their ships including
Ribault's Trinity were destroyed and they began the long walk back to Fort Caroline only to be captured by the
Spanish. Caught at the Matanzas inlet nearly 250 Frenchmen were slaughtered giving the place its Spanish name of
Matanzas. Solis de Meras, the brother-in-law of Pedro Menendez, and San Vicent murdered Jean Ribault at this site.
The one survivor of the mass murder was Christophe le Breton who was caught again by the Spanish and sold as a
slave. Through luck he was finally able to return to France. The bodies of the murdered were burned to ashes.
March 8 a mutiny at St. Augustine but by March 21 Menendez returns from Cuba and ends mutiny. He also brought
back the survivors of St. Lucia. In April Menendez left to explore the Guale region and April 13 Fort San Salvadore
was founded at Santa Elena. April 1 the St. Augustine fort was burned. On May 18 Menendez returns and
reestablished the new fort on Anastasia Island. June 21 a relief fleet arrives and builds the 3rd fort also located on
Anastasia island. The settlement was also moved to Anastasia Island.
Pedro Menendez sends the Juan Pardo Expedition to Explore Florida
In 1566 from Santa Elena Juan Pardo sets off to explore Florida and travel to New Spain. Among his troops is
Guillaume Rouffi, a Frenchman, who would be the interpreter among the Indians. The trip took them through today's
Carolinas and into Tennessee. For the account of the expedition: Account of Florida.
The Jesuits arrive
The Jesuits arrived in 1566. The Jesuits built their missions in the security of the soldiers. The Jesuits made no progress
and left for Spain in 1572.
The First Recorded Medical Practitioner Arrives
Hernando de Segovia from Merida arrives in 1578. He is a barber who had his sword, buckler, and case of
instruments for making cures. For most of years for the last of the 16th century Dona Catalina Menendez the
governor's sister was the nurse. Juan de LeConte was the first physician to stay in St. Augustine for a long period of
time. He was in a ship wreck off Santa Elena and taken prisoner by the Spanish. He was a doctor, surgeon and barber
in exchange for shelter, food, and clothing. He was named official surgeon for the garrison in 1586. The second
hospital was built by 1599 in the southern part of the city and called Santa Barbara. Maria Joijo a royal slave was the
The Threat of the English Begins
On July 13, 1584 the English explorers find the island of Roanoke. This island is located off the coast of today's North
Carolina. The English travel by way of Puerto Rico and Haite and buy goods from the Spanish on the way. On April
19, 1585 the colony is founded. Anthony Rowse a friend of Sir Francis Drake is on the voyage. (Sir Walter Raleigh's
Sir Francis Drake
On June 7, 1586 the English pirate Sir Francis Drake attacked the tiny St. Augustine settlement with 2,000
pirates.Pedro Menendez Marques, the nephew of Pedro Menendez was the Spanish governor (1578-1589). Nicholas
Borgoignon, a French fifer who had lived in St. Augustine since the capture of Fort Caroline in 1565, rowed across
the river playing on his fife "Wilhelmus van Nassouwe," the tune of the Protestant Prince of Orange. He brought the
news that the Spanish had abandoned the fort. Drake burned down the town and the fort (San Juan de Pinos), the
parish church Nuestra Senora de los Remedios and captured a treasure chest full of pay for the Spanish soldiers. His
take for the town was 2,000 pounds sterling and some bronze artillery. The town's savior was Juan Fernandez, a
black Spanish soldier, who with his Native American allies created a diversion in front of Sir Francis Drake's troops
giving the townspeople time to go deep into the swamps. A written account of the voyage of Drake was written by
Walter Bigges as A Summarie and True Discourse of Sir Francis Drake's West Indies Voyage (London, 1589)
(Chapter 8 is about St. Augustine)
Drake arrives at the new colony of Roanoke. On June 18 the colonists return to England with Drake. When the
supplies arrive at Roanoke they find the colony deserted but leave 15 men in possession of the fort. On July 22, 1587
new colonists return and reestablish the colony finding the 15 men dead or missing. On this second colonization Darby
Glande (an Irishman) either escapes or was left behind in Puerto Rico. Later he would testify in front of the "Spanish in
St. Augustine about the first Roanoke Colony. The Roanoke Governor, John White, would paint watercolors about
Roanoke and Florida.
St. Augustine Hunts for the Colony of Roanoke
June 1588, the Spanish Governor at St. Augustine sent a packet boat northward to locate the English colony. The
packet boat, with the pilot Vincente Gonzalez in command and with Juan Menendez Marques nephew of the
Governor on board, came to the Roanoke Colony. Here they found evidence of a harbor and of English occupation.
They departed hurriedly to St. Augustine to report their discovery. They clearly thought the harbor still in use at the
time of their visit; but the projected attack, at first postponed and later thought to be unnecessary because of the
weakness of the fort and settlement wasn't made.
In 1588 construction started on the Franciscan Monastery (Convento de San Francisco). The Franciscans (statue of
Friar and Indian boy at Oldest House)established missions throughout the United States from their base in St.
Augustine. This early building was burned in the 1702 fire. Coquina stone became the preferred building material and
construction started in 1717-18. The stone church was completed about 1737 and the friary by 1750. The Masters of
Masonry that worked on the building were Ensign Bartholome Perez and Joseph de Espinosa. The Masters of
Carpentry were Thomas de Balderama, Antonio Gonzalez, Pedro Ruiz, and Diego Marquez Morales. In 1764 the
British Governor Grant made this the officer's quarters and the church was converted into barracks for the soldiers.
Engineer Moncrief did the conversion by 1771. This is the headquarters of the Florida National Guard today.
In 1592, twelve Franciscan missionaries arrived at St. Augustine. The Superior was Fray Jean de Silva. Father Francis
Panja wrote a book in the language of the Yemasees entitled "Abridgment of Christian Doctrine". Father Corpa
established a Mission house for the Indians at Tolomato. Father Blas de Rodriquez started a Indian Church at the
Mission of Numbre de Dios. Over the course of time more than 300 friars baptized some 170,000 Native Americans.
The First Recorded Baptism
On June 10, 1594 Diego Escobar de Zambrana the pastor of St. Augustine baptized Maria the daughter of Juan
Jimenez de la Cueva and of Maria Melendez, his wife. The godparents were Adrian de Canizares and Maria Ruiz, his
wife. This is the first entry in the oldest existing written records of American origin in the United States.
Nombre de Dios
In 1587 the Franciscans built a mission church on the site of the first landing - Nombre de Dios. By 1678 it was
constructed out of stone by Govenor Hita Salzar. The mission had become associated with the Virgin Mary nursing the
infant Jesus and the mission was called Nuestra Senora de la Leche y Buen Parto (Our Lady of Milk and Good Birth).
Nuestra Senora de La Soledad
In 1597 Governor Mendez de Canzo built a hospital addition to the hermitage of Nuestra Senora de La Soledad.
(King Charles I of Spain had issued an order in 1541 that there would be a hospital in all Spanish and Indian towns
under Spanish control. In 1573 King Phillip II issued an order for two hospitals. The second for patients with
contagious diseases.) This would be the first hospital in the United States. After 1702 this serviced as the parish
church. This church served as the parish church until the Spanish left in 1764.
The Market Place Built
Governor Mendez de Canzo builds a market place for fish and meat and establishes the first weights and measures in
the United States. The location of the market place would have been on the east end of the plaza but the location is
unknown. Where the market place is located at now (misnamed the slave market) was the location of the guard house.
In the British period the market place would have a bell. Use of a market place would continue into the American
Destruction and Hardships
1599 a Hurricane and fire destroyed St. Augustine. The third governor of St. Augustine: Gonzalo Memdez de Canzo
was able to rebuild the city including the addition of a plaza with a guardhouse, a warehouse-treasury and a governor's
house. The fire destroyed La Soledad, the parish church, and many houses. Canzo also drained a swamp in the town.
Spanish and some Timucuan Vocabulary helps
Go to 1st Period Spanish 1600-1700
|Dr. Bronson and Friends: A History of the City of St. Augustine
by Gil Wilson
1st Spanish Period (part 1)
1565 - 1600
ab urbe condita - (-52) to 35
St. Augustine's Motto
Fiel y Ferme
Faithful and Strong
New York Public Library
|Statue of Pedro Menendez
|Laying out the City of St. Augustine
New York Public Library
|Sir Francis Drake
|Ponce de Leon
New York Public Library
|Spanish soldiers mid-16th century
|1st St. Augustine Fort
New York Public Library
| The Ephebic Oath
I will not bring dishonour on my sacred arms nor will I abandon my comrade wherever I shall be stationed. I will
defend the rights of gods and men and will not leave my country smaller, when I die, but greater and better, so far as I
am able by myself and with the help of all. I will respect the rulers of the time duly and the existing ordinances duly and
all others which may be established in the future. Furthermore, if anyone seeks to destroy the ordinances I will oppose
him so far as I am able by myself and with the help of all. I will honor the cults of my fathers. Witnesses to this shall be
the gods Agraulus, Hestia, Enyo, Enyalius, Ares, Athena the Warrior, Zeus, Thallo, Auxo, Hegemone, Heracles, and
the boundaries of my native land, wheat, barley, vines, olive-trees, fig-trees...