Florida Conquistadors

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The New World A land where people could prosper. A land with plenty of opportunity for quick advancement in the Spanish military and diplomatic careers. Coming to the end of the fifteenth century; there were thousands of daring men and women who would be crossing the ocean to conquer just within a few centuries what had taken the Indians thousands to years to inhabit! The discovery of Gold in Mexico and Peru caused many Spanish men to join the army; Leading a successful colonial mission could get them the funds to build a castle instead of the younger sons of the nobility inheriting a small part of the family estate. There were also those who came for spiritual reasons. More than just priests and church leaders, the eternal blessing of God would be earned by turning the Americas into Catholic lands. Through 1516 and 1561 Florida had been explored by many Spaniards. Two Including: Ponce De Leon and Panfilo De Navareaz… Juan Ponce De Leon Known as the original discoverer of Florida. He was the grandson of a famous war hero. Trained as a soldier and a public servant. Joining Columbus' second voyage with his family they went to retire in the Dominican Republic. Columbus had been made military governor for life, but with his death someone new had to be appointed, Spanish authorities refused to grant it to his son Diego. The Crown had Ponce de Leon of course chosen. His first task was to colonize Puerto Rico; it was accomplished with a few men and a greyhound that scared the natives. Diego Columbus was unhappy and decided to take his claim to the courts in Madrid. He was given his rights. Then becoming military governor, Ponce De Leon was removed from office. He felt his name was damaged and refused to serve Diego. He then was given title to explore the Upper Bahamas and areas to the north. In the Beginning of March in 1513, Ponce de Leon sailed to the Bahamas and headed toward Florida. He was seeking a spiritual rebirth in the Fountain of Youth. March 27, 1513, Easter Sunday, his crew sighted land. Six days later he reached the Florida coast and kept sailing northward to land near St. Augustine. He named the place "Pescua Florida", "the place of flowers,” in honor of Easter Sunday and all the beautiful flowers that bloomed in spring. On their return voyage he met up with the Indians of Jupiter Inlet and took note of the important features on the East Coast.

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