The New World 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’s e cond 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.
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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 ‘Pesca 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. He rounded the Dry Tortugas; a cluster of seven small islands; to explore the Gulf of Mexico and entered Charlotte Harbor.
He was now realizing that Florida was more than a large island. He discovered the chief of Calusa village near Mound Key and the tribes were very unfriendly. He stopped at Estero Island to repair his vessel and escaped as bands of Calusa came closer on the intruders. Finally, eight years later Ponce de Leon got some funding for a second trip to Florida. Hernando Cortez had conquered the Aztecs and Spanish interests shifted to Central America. Ponce de Leon was able by 1521 to get a small financing.
Ponce de Leon headed for Calusa Territory with a 500-man force, including Florida’s first priests, farmers, and artisans, in the winter of 1521. They landed on the Gulf beaches between Charlotte Harbor and Estero Bay. The choice of location proved weak. Requiring food and fresh water, Ponce de Leon led some troops into the dense coastal forest for a spring. Suddenly, Calusa warriors ambushed the conquistadors from all sides.
The European weapons weren’t any good in the close combat. Ponce de Leon was pierced in the thigh by a reed arrow. The soldiers carried their wounded adelantado (military governor) to the ship. The colonists agreed to return to Cuba and evacuate the project. Ponce de Leon promised to return, but his health got worse… he never saw his discovery again.
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Panfilo de Narva rez After service in Jamaica he went to help Diego De Velazquez in conquering Cuba. In 1520 he was then sent to Mexico by Velazquez to put Cortes into submission. His force was defeated, captured and imprisoned he wasn’t released until 1521. Then returning to Spain Charles V called on him to conquer and govern Florida.
Soon he was sailing toward Florida with less then 400 men and only forty-two horses. In April 1528 he landed on the present Tampa Bay. Indians fled their villages to fight the men but were greeted with Navar ez mounted on his horse and his many followers behind him. He raised the standard of Spain and with his ways took over the country in the name of his monarch. His officers took oath of allegiance to him and made him governor.
He then took into consideration how he should rule; he knew that kind treatments could get him friendships with the Indians. But instead of ruling with peace and good will, he took an unwise course, he ruled with force and cruelty to the subjection of the natives. The consequences would be disastrous. The Indians quickly learned to hate him. Narveaz then sent his ships on toward Mexico then led 300 men inland to Apalachee.
In a waste less search for gold he was disappointed. Always being harassed by the Indians men were lost and Narveaz was discouraged, deciding to give up they then headed back towards the coast. There they made many vessels and sent out to the Mississippi. Food and water soon ran out and sufferings were horrible, many men died on the way.
Then a storm came there were only four survivors not including Narveaz. When they landed off the coast of Texas they were meant by hostile Indians and killed. References web.