Monday, July 27, 2020

Historic Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine, Florida is a modern-day mixture of historical buildings and tourist focused attractions for which Florida is so well known. The city is located on the east coast or the north-central area of the peninsula and is approximately nine-and-a-half square miles.
Christmas in St. Augustine.

Boasting a Christmas illumination display that would make Clark Griswold proud, Saint Augustine’s Night of Light’s is one of the nation’s brightest with almost two-million lights. 

The restaurants styles range from exclusive gastronome to old fashioned empanada meat pies. Spooky nighttime tours of the haunted downtown and the striped, Saint Augustine Lighthouse are but a few fun things to fill your evenings.

The area is steeped in history from the early sixteenth-century, to the civil war, to WWII, and into the twenty-first century.

Here’s a bit of early history about Saint Augustine and the surrounding area.

In 1513, Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon lived in Puerto
Explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon
Rico. He left the islands to explore the northern continent on March 4 and arrived on the Florida coast on April 2. Along with three commissioned ships, the Santiago, the San Cristobal, and the Santa Maria de la Consolacion, the adventurer traveled the coastline of Florida from Mosquito Inlet to Charlotte Harbor. De Leon named his discovery, La Florida, in honor of the Easter Season and Pascua Florida, the Spanish festival of flowers. Legend says de Leon was in search of—not gold—but a fountain of youth the native population said existed in the area. Today, you can visit the mythological fountain in the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park near Saint Augustine.

1565, King Phillip II of Spain sent Pedro Menendez de Aviles to Florida after he learned the French had established a settlement near Jacksonville, Florida—an intrusion onto Spanish lands in the New World.

Pedro Menendez de Aviles arrived on the Florida coast with 10 ships and 1500 men around September 1565. His orders were to establish an outpost for Spain along the coast and eliminate the French settlements on Spanish land.

Coffin of Pedro Menendez de Aviles
He settled St. Augustine then immediately attacked Fort Caroline, a French settlement near Jacksonville, Florida. During the conquest, Menendez ordered some of the Frenchmen to be hung from trees. He carved a message into a tree trunk that read "Hanged Not as Frenchmen but as Lutherans."
Menendez continued his quest until he fulfilled his promise to the king to eliminate the French and establish St. Augustine for Spain.

Sir Francis Drake, English sea captain, privateer, naval officer, slave trader and explorer, attacked St. Augustine in 1586. His forces destroyed the wooden fort, San Juan de Pinillo.

An Italian artist who traveled with Drake, Boazio, rendered a map of the city during the siege. Boazio’s drawing is the earliest portrayal of the city of Saint Augustine and provides historians with important landmarks and information about the design of the city.

Carolina Charter of 1665 enlarged the original grant for the Carolina Colony. The new boundary extended into Spanish territory and was defined as 29° north latitude. The extension of the Charter encompassed Saint Augustine. The city had been controlled by the Spanish for over 100 years. A border dispute between the English and Spanish erupted in the Americas. The dispute wasn’t fully settled until the Georgia colony was formed.

The history of Saint Augustine is sometimes overlooked in the modern teaching of American history. We tend to focus on the Plymouth Colony and the Virginia Colony, forgetting the Spanish imprint on the New World. Though sometimes violent, the contribution of men like King Phillip II, Juan Ponce de Leon and Pedro Menendez de Aviles are huge and worthy of a place in America’s textbooks. Have you visited Florida or the Saint Augustine area? What did you think? Please, leave a comment below and let us know about your experiences in the historic city.

Multi award-winning author, Michele K. Morris’s love for historical fiction began when she first read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House book series. She grew up riding horses and her free time in the woods of mid-Michigan.

Michele is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

1 comment:

  1. I've never visited any part of Florida. I remember learning about Ponce de Leon in school. Thanks for posting.