Pedro Menéndez de Avilés - Lightner Museum

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés is the founder of the Ancient City. A classic example of the conquistador, he was commissioned by HRE Charles V to drive pirates away from Spain’s coast and was later appointed captain of the Indies fleet. His impatience won him numerous enemies which would lead to his imprisonment in 1563 until he was freed with royal favor.

King Philip II was threatened by the French Huguenot presence on Florida’s east coast. He sent Menéndez on an expedition to establish a colony and fight French advances with eleven ships and 2,000 men in July 1565. Menéndez and his crew landed on August 28, named the city St. Augustine, and began building a fort. On September 20, they occupied the French colony of Fort Caroline and massacred the entire population. Menéndez would continue to establish a string of forts on the Atlantic coast up to St. Helena in present-day South Carolina until he was recalled to Spain in 1567 to organize against the English.

Today, a statue of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés stands prominently in front of the historic Alcazar Hotel, now the Lightner Museum and municipal offices of the City of St. Augustine. The sculpture was gifted to the city by the people of Avilés in 1972 and is an exact replica of the statue that stands near the tomb of Menéndez in his ancestral home of Avilés.

Collection: Touch STA

Medium type: Cast Bronze

Date created: 1972

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