First Contacts

From 1513 onward, Spanish and French explorers and would-be colonizers had attempted to establish a permanent European settlement in “the lovely, deadly land of Florida”. It would take more than half a century, however, before this ambition would be realized by Pedro MenÚndez de Aviles of Spain. MenÚndez came to Florida in pursuit not only of wealth, but also of the French Lutherans under Rene de Laudonniere, who had built a settlement called Fort Caroline near what is today Mayport, Florida, in 1564. After eliminating the French Protestant presence and taking over their fort in September of 1565, Admiral MenÚndez and Chief Seloy of the Florida Timucua Indians met one another at what is today St. Augustine. MenÚndez and his group of some 800 colonists (including 26 women and an unknown number of African slaves) made their first settlement at Seloy’s town, and used Seloy’s council house as the first Spanish fort.

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