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PEDRO MENENDEZ DE AVILES (1519-1574)

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Originally appearing in Volume V03, Page 65 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PEDRO MENENDEZ DE AVILES (1519-1574), Spanish seaman, founder of St Augustine, Florida, was born at Aviles in Asturias on the 15th of February 1519. His family were gentry, and he was one of nineteen brothers and sisters. At the age of fourteen he ran away to sea, and was engaged till he was thirty in a life of adventure as a corsair. In 1549 during peace between France and Spain he was commissioned by the emperor Charles V. to clear the north coast of Spain and the Canaries of French pirates. In 1554 he was appointed captain-general of the " flota " or convoy which carried the trade between Spain and America. The appointment was made by the emperor over the head and against the will of the Casa de Contratacion, or governing board of the American trade. In this year, and before he sailed to America, Aviles accompanied the prince of Spain, afterwards Philip II., to England, where he had gone to marry Queen Mary. As commander of the flota he displayed-a diligence, and achieved a degree of success in bringing back treasure, which earned him the hearty approval of the emperor. But his devotion to the imperial service, and his steady refusal to receive bribes as the reward for permitting breaches of the regulations, made him unpopular with the merchants, while his high-handed ways offended the Casa de Contratacion. Re-appointed commander in 1557, and knowing the hostility of the Casa, he applied for service elsewhere. The war with France in which Spain and England were allies was then in progress, and until the close of 1559 ample occupation was found for Aviles in bringing money and recruits from Spain to Flanders. When peace was restored he commanded the fleet which brought Philip II. back from the Low Countries to Spain. In 156o he was again appointed to command the flota, and he made a most successful voyage to America and back, in that and the following year. His relations with the Casa de Contratacion were, however, as strained as ever. On his return from another voyage in 1563 he was arrested by order of the Casa, and was detained in prison for twenty months. What the charges brought against him were is not known. Aviles in a letter to the king avows his innocence, and he was finally discharged by the judges, but not until they had received two peremptory orders from the king to come to a decision. On his release he prepared to sail to the Bermudas to seek for See The Spanish Settlements within the Present Limits of the United States, ei''Or'ida, 1562-1574, by Woodbury Lowery (New York, 1905). (D. H.)
End of Article: PEDRO MENENDEZ DE AVILES (1519-1574)
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