Typical 16th-Century Florida Native American Village

Editor’s Note: The Spanish chroniclers of the Hernando de Soto expedition give us the first European eyewitness accounts of the architecture and town planning of Native American villages in Florida in the 1500s. By the time the British arrived two hundred years later, these civilizations were destroyed, their inhabitants dead from warfare and disease, and […]

Florida’s Native American Archers

Editor’s Note: The Spanish chroniclers of the first European expeditions in Florida and the southeast made constant mention of the skill and accuracy of Native American archers. It’s clear from their writings that they both feared and greatly respected these expert marksmen and warriors. The following account comes from Florida of the Inca by Garcilaso […]

Fort Caroline at Evelyn Plantation in GA?

In the mid 1700s English naturalist William Bartram described visiting the ruins of an old French or Spanish fort along the Altamaha River in Georgia. He described these ruins as a “tetragon terrace” surrounded by a moat. Could these ruins be the remains of the French Fort Caroline later renamed San Matteo by the Spanish […]

Letter of Hernando de Soto at Tampa Bay

LETTER OF HERNANDO DE SOTO, in Florida, to the Justice and Board of Magistrates in Santiago de Cuba. VERY NOBLE GENTLEMEN: The being in a new country, not very distant indeed from that where you are, still with some sea between, a thousand years appear to me to have gone by since any thing has […]

Archaeologists find elusive 16th-century Spanish Fort San Marcos

Nearly 40 years after finding the remains of the 16th-century town of Santa Elena on present-day Parris Island in Beaufort County, South Carolina, archaeologists have discovered San Marcos, one of five Spanish forts that operated during the town’s 21-year history. University of South Carolina archaeologist Chester DePratter and anthropologist Victor Thompson of the University of Georgia have conducted research […]

UWF archaeology program discovers third shipwreck from Luna fleet

The University of West Florida archaeology program announced today the discovery of a third shipwreck from the Spanish fleet linked to Tristán de Luna y Arellano’s 16th century expedition to modern-day Pensacola. The discovery comes less than one year after UWF archaeologists identified the terrestrial site of Luna’s colony in a developed neighborhood in Pensacola, marking […]

Long-Lost Spanish Fort Found in St. Augustine

Editors Note: I just stumbled across this old New York Times article from 1993 about the possible rediscovery of the original Fort St. Augustine on the grounds of the Fountain of Youth Park. (Since 1993 they’ve built a reconstruction of a Spanish mission here.) The original fort was constructed by Pedro Menendez in an Indian […]

San Miguel de Gualdape

San Miguel de Gualdape was the first European settlement in what would become the continental United States, founded in 1526 by Spanish explorer Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón. The settlers lasted only through three months of winter before abandoning the site in early 1527. History Records show that in 1521, de Ayllón, a wealthy sugar planter […]

How Natives Conducted Their Warfare Near Tampa

    This eyewitness account from one of the first expeditions into the Southeastern U.S. shows the Spanish were definitely impressed by the military tactics of the Native inhabits of Florida. -Editor From A Narrative of the Expedition of Hernando de Soto Into Florida, by a Gentleman of Elvas The Governor sent the chief constable, Baltasar […]

Juan Ortiz Captivity Narrative by El Inca

This is a second and more extensive version of the captivity and rescue of the Spaniard Juan Ortiz who lived among the Indians of La Florida for 12 years. This version by El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega is considered the first piece of literature written by someone born in the Americas. El Inca was […]

Juan Ortiz Captivity Narrative by Elvas

Ulele, Ucita, Juan Ortiz
When Hernando de Soto landed in southwest Florida to begin his exploration of the Southeast, he did so without the aid of his local native interpreters who had escaped upon sighting land. This would certainly have doomed the expedition but as luck would have it De Soto found a Spanish captive named Juan Ortiz who […]
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