The Letters of Pedro Menendez Aviles

Letter IV (Mantanzas, December 5, 1565)


Royal Catholic Majesty. I wrote to Your Majesty from Florida
in October, by the Captain Diego Flores de Valdes, giving a detailed
account of all the good success that Our Lord had given me, up to that
date, as well in the taking of the Fort of the French Lutherans who
were in it, as in the destruction of their fleet and the annihilation and
execution of all or the greater part of them ; among whom was Juan
Rivao who was Viceroy of these Provinces and all the principal cap-
tains, no one of them surviving. I also forwarded this despatch to
Your Majesty, by way of St. Domingo ; so that I am assured that
Your Majesty, by this time will have received that despatch, as the
Captain Diego Flores must have arrived.

On the very day after he left these provinces of the Fort of St.
Augustine, I received information from the Indians, that 70 or 80
Frenchmen were collected together, building a fort at Cape Canaveral
and a vessel to send to France to ask for succor, and that they had
much artillery and ammunition that they had taken out of the flag ship
of Juan Rivao that had been lost there, and that, about thirty leagues
from the place where they were, is the beginning of the Cape of the
Bahama Channel. So I took three light barks for oars and sails,
and put a hundred men on board of them, going myself by land with
150, and left the Fort of St. Augustine on the 2t of November, and
on All Saints’ Day in the morning we came upon them, the barks by
sea, and I by land. We were discovered before we attacked them ;
and the Frenchmen seeing us, were afraid of us, and abandoning the
fort, took to flight to the mountain. We put in a place of safety six
pieces of artillery that they had and the powder and ammunition with
which they were moderately provided^ and burned and razed the fort,
and also burned the bark which was nearly finished. Seeing that the
mountain was so thickly wooded that we could not catch any of them,
and that it would not be proper that so wicked a sect should remain in
the land, I sent a French trumpeter who had been with Juan Rivao,
whom I had brought along with me, into the mountain to tell them to
surrender, and give up their arms and that, if they would come to me,
I would spare their lives. So they all came, save he whom they had
chosen for captain, and three or four others men from Navarre and
servants of the Prince of Conde.

Having done this we departed, the boats by sea and I by land, down
the Bahama Channel. Having gone 15 leagues we found a harbor,
although not a very good one, but which has a fine river of more than
fifty leagues in length, so that it is navigable for galliots, brigantines,
frigates, and ships drawing one fathom of water ; and there we found a

principal cacique, who has many people on that river, with whom I made
great friendship, giving him many articles of clothing, as well as to his
wives and kindred ; and, in the eight days I was there, I so gained
their good will that they told me they should rejoice to have me remain
in their land, which was what I desired and strove to do. So I left a
Captain with 200 men and one of the barks, that they should fortify
there ; also provisions for 15 days, as our need of provisions is very
great. With the other 80 men and two barks I went along down the
Bahama Channel to seek provisions in Havana, to supply the forts and
these people ; arriving there in three days. I discovered, on my way,
two good harbors, and it is a wonderful thing that w^e can sail with such
facility down the Bahama Channel. I always have held it certain that
we could so navigate, for all along the shore, there is water on the back
side, inland ; this I have formerly seen ; and, separated from the land
it runs out to the open sea. It is a very great thing to have dis-
covered this navigation and these harbors for the ships from the Indies
that sail through the channel, for as they are often damaged in their
rigging there, and have no harbor they dismantle their ships taking the
money out into barges ; others go to the bottom ; others still, arriving
at Havana all broken to pieces. Now, when any storm strikes them, they
can go along the shore, which is very clear and with good bottom, and
put into the harbors that I have discovered, or come to this harbor of
Matanzas, or to Havana. That is where the French desired to come
and settle in the coming spring, on account of their having gallies, (for
it is very good for them,) and they have many harbors, as they enter at
once on the Martires and the Tortugas, and sailing along their coast,
could be masters of Havana and the whole island of Cuba, and there
set at liberty all the negroes in all the Indies, for so they thought to
become Lords of this land without making war, without labor or

I found at Havana the flag ship of Pedro de las Roclas with 130
men, seamen and land troops, and also Pedro Menendez Marquez, my
cousin^ with three ships that carried a quantity of ammunition, and two
hundred men, and I received certain information that many French
and English corsairs were going about at Porto Rico and Hispaniola,
and at this island of Cuba, to plunder and to trade in negroes and linen
goods, bartering them for gold and pearls, sugars and hides ; and that
many Portuguese ships w^ere doing the same thing. Thinking this to
be great damage to Your Majesty’s service, and fearing that Jaques
Rivao, the eldest son of Juan Rivao, having the two ships from the
fleet with which he fled, the day we took the fort, with 70 or 80 men
on board, when he had seen all the French who were in the fort put to
death, and knowing that his father was then at sea with the greater
part of the fleet, went out to seek him at this island of Hispaniola, so

as to join him and the other corsairs who might be there, and tell them
what had happened at the fort, and that the French had been put to
death, meeting with the corsairs, might be able to make descents on
various settlements in these parts, burning and sacking them, and
committing cruelties upon the people whom they should find in them,
as well as upon the ships and crews of Your Majesty’s vessels, which
they might take. I fitted up the flag ship and the three pataches,
(small vessels) which Pero Menendez Marques, my cousin had brought
with three hundred and fifty seamen, in these four vessels all good
arquebusiers and good men ; and to serve Your Majesty at my own
cost, I provisioned and supplied them, and sailed out of the port of
Havana in the last of November, to find, pursue and chastise them,
wherever they might be, and to spend the three months of December,
January and February in doing this, and, in the beginning of March,
to return the flag ship to Pedro de las Roclas, with all his crew, at
Havana, I, with my ships, to go back to Florida to await the succor
which I sent to ask from Your Majesty, to carry out the plans of which
I wrote for the settlement of St. Helena and in the Bay of St. Mary,
which are essential and necessary, in order that Your Majesty shall be
Lord of these provinces in quiet. And the day that I left Havana with
this fleet, which, as I have said was in the last part of November, we
discovered a sail and I ordered the tenders to give chase to her, but
she took to flight up the Bahama Channel, fearing that she must cer-
tainly be a corsair, or some prize that they had taken. They could not
overhaul her that day, but the next day, in the morning, being at the
mouth of the Channel, we saw her quite near us, and she fled towards
this port of Matanzas, and we came up with her within the harbor,
where her crew abandoned the vessel and fled in the boats to tl^e shore.
I sent a crew on board the ship to visit her and they found her to be
Your Majesty’s despatch ship ; so I sent to look up her crew, who,
thinking us to be corsairs, had taken to flight. The master of the ship
told us that, by Your Majesty’s orders, the oflicers of the Casa de la
Contratacion had despatched him to St. Domingo and to Havana
with Your Majesty’s instructions to the President, the Audiencia and
the Governor, that they should get ready immediately beef and fish
for eighteen hundred men for nine months, for that so many men were
coming to Florida ; but gave no letter to me from Your Majesty, or
from any private individual of your kingdom. He gave me a letter
from the President and Auditors of the Audiencia of St. Domingo,
in which they tell me the same that the master had told me.

Considering that, as Your Majesty sends these troops, it must be for
the reason that the King of France is sending some fleet to Florida,
it is therefore not expedient that I shall be absent from Florida,
although I have left there very excellent captains, very well informed

as to what may possibly happen, I abandon the fine plan that 1 had
against the corsairs, and return to Havana with the fleet, where I shall
do every thing in my power to send on provisions to Florida for the
people there up to March ; the men whom I have here I shall detain
here till that time, for they have nothing there to eat, and I shall
manage, when I go to Florida in the month of March, to take food
sufficient to last until supplies shall arrive from your kingdom ; but,
unless they are succored, or unless God sustains them, one of two
things cannot fail to happen, either they will perish with hunger, or
will break with the Indians, on account of taking food from them, and
in order that neither one nor the other may happen, I shall do every-
thing to the extent of my power, to supply them.

The fleet of St. Domingo up to this day has not arrived at Havana ;
but a frigate that went in company with it arrived at Havana a week
ago, whose captain says that, in a storm he separated from a store ship
that was conveying the men from St. Domingo, of whom Gonzalo de
Penalosa was captain, that with him came Esteban de las Alas, with
four others of my tenders that sailed from Asturias and Biscay ; that
likewise Pero Menendez Marques, who came as Admiral with Esteban
de las Alas, had parted company two months before. The captain of
the frigate also says that 30 horses that Gonzalo de Penalosa, was
carrying to Florida died on his hands, and were thrown into the sea, the
third day after he sailed from St. Domingo, (except one), so that not
one single horse has arrived in Florida from St. Domingo, Porto Rico
or anywhere else. I paid off the crew and the frigate that they should
not make cost to Your Majesty, (and so, that all the men who would
not go with me to Florida, might return to Hispaniola, whence they
came, and that they should not go to Peru without Your Majesty’s
license,) as Your Majesty will understand, by the vouchers that go

As to the armed ship with 50 soldiers and 20 horses which Your
Majesty ordered the Governor of Havana to provide, paid and supplied
for four months, I did not ask for them, so that I might not make cost
for Your Majesty, and because I thought them not necessary at present,
the Frenchmen in Florida being dead.

When Esteban de las Alas and Pero Menendez Marques were com-
ing on their voyage from your kingdom to Florida, they discovered two
sails to the north of the island of Hispaniola, off Porto Eico, and think-
ing them to be corsairs or prizes, they gave chase to them, when Pero
Menendez took one of them and Esteban de las Alas the other finding,
when they came up with them, that they were two Portuguese cara-
vels, and the whole of their crews Portuguese, who, contrary to the
orders, regulations and Royal Ordinances of Your Majesty and without
registers, had come to trade in these parts. The one which Pero

Menendez took was of small value ; but he instituted process against
them and took them into Havana as prizes. When I arrived there he
gave them up to me with the other caravel and the goods, which were
sold at public auction ; the money from tlie proceeds thereof I took and
with it bought provisions which I sent in two barks to Florida, one of
them a tender of seventy tons, in charge of the Captain Diego de Maya,
for the people in the two forts of St. Matthew and St. Augustine ; the
other, in command of Gonzalo Gallego, for the two hundred Spaniards
whom I left in the channel, this side of Cape Canaveral, in the harbor
of which I have spoken, which I have since named Puerto del Socorro,
because, for four days there were 150 soldiers in it with nothing to eat
or drink, except palmettos and water and herbs. Diego de Maya, with
the three barges and the hundred men whom he carried, arrived with
the provisions with which he succored us, so that we gave the place for
this reason the name of Puerto del Socorro. With this provision that
they carried, there will be enough for all January, though on very
short rations. The testimony and the proceedings against the Portu-
guese accompany this, as well as the prize proceedings. The Portu-
guese I take in the barges, at the oar, until Your Majesty shall
otherwise command, although certainly they show no such courtesy to
the Castilians whom they take in Mina, or Molucca, lands of Your
Majesty, which they hold in pledge, for all of Your Majesty’s vassals
whom they take, they sew up in sails and throw overboard alive. As
to the other caravel which Estevan de las Alas took, I do not know
what became of it in the storm, nor even of him, nor whether they are
dead or alive, for nothing appears of him or of either of these ships.
Our Lord may have been pleased to bring them into port in safety. I
am told that his caravel had on board four thousand or more hides, and
nothing else, for the two caravels had sent on shore, by some of their
crews, in barges, what money they had, and these could not be captured.
They also tell me that this prize which Estevan de las Alas took will be
worth near six thousand ducats, more or less. If he has not lost it, I
shall receive it and order it to be sold, and from the proceeds supply
the people whom I have in Florida.

At the time the Purveyor Francisco Duarte despatched me from
Cadiz, I could not take on board all the provisions which he gave me
for the 300 soldiers and 100 seamen whom Your Majesty paid to go to
Florida, because I had laden in the galleon some provisions, and he
caused them to be laden on board a large caravel of 120 tons which I
chartered ; and inasmuch as her crew was nearly dead from the heat, I
put on board of her 80 soldiers^ and Francesco Duarte made the master
of the galleon give him a bill of lading for the provisions which he
loaded on the caravel, as Your Majesty paid the freight on the galleon ;
and, in order not to have any difficulty with him, I acquiesced, as I saw

clearly that the supplies for 400 men could not be carried in the galleon.
When I left the Canary Islands, this caravel was separated from me,
came into port at St. Domingo and left St. Domingo in company with
another shallop of mine and a brigantine, and off the Cape of Tiburon
they met four French corsairs, and took a part of the crew on board
the brigantine, and the rest fled in the boat, for the caravel carried no
guns. There remained on board the caravel about 40 persons, most of
whom were sick, and the corsairs took her and carried them off. A
month after, this caravel was lost, with all her cargo, in a storm near the
port of Matanzas ; the crew escaped being twelve Frenchmen and
about 20 very sick men of the 40 whom they captured on board of her,
for the other twenty had been thrown overboard, having died. The
Governor of Havana had the Frenchmen put on trial and hung them.
I lost the provisions of this caravel, which was fully loaded, and was
worth about four thousand ducats, in addition to the other three thou-
sand that had been paid to the men and in wages to the master and
seamen of the caravel, all the stores that came in her being Your
Majesty’s, and not mine, I giving from that which was laden in the
galleass, at the time Your Majesty ordered Ine to take it, as much more
for the 300 soldiers and 100 seamen, who went to Florida on Your
Majesty’s account. I pray Your Majesty, that, considering all this and
that in order to sail against the corsairs, as I did at my own cost, hav-
ing paid out, in order to supply myself and equip myself fully to go, as
I did, with the 350 men whom I took in my ships more than four
thousand ducats, Your Majesty will do me the favor to allow me the
proceeds of these two caravels, if the one taken by Estevan de las Alas
shall appear, provided they were not worth, with their cargoes, more
than I have hereinbefore said ; for I need and require it all desperately,
in order to supply that part of my force which I have in Florida ; for,
so doing, Your Majesty will do me a great favor, especially as the
greater part of this goes to the men and to the ships, as the greater
part of right belongs to them.

For the ship of Pedro de las Roclas which he sent to me from the
Cape of St. Antony, he appointed as captain Juan de la Parra, an old
soldier who has served Your Majesty many years by sea and by land,
who pursuing his voyage towards Havana, was cast by the weather
upon Matanzas ; and, about the time he was going into the harbor, he
saw a caravel lying there, and ordered Antonio Gomez who is Captain
of Artillery of the same ship to go and reconnoitre her ; who, having
gone, found it to be a Portuguese caravel laden with hides, which had
also some pearls and gold, having come without a Spanish register to
trade in negroes and other merchandise on Terra Firma or the coast of
Venezuela, and at the Island of Hispaniola ; and he brought her along-
side of the captain ship. And the Captain Juan de la Parra, who was

captain of the ship and crew, having inspected the prize and her crew,
commenced proceedings against her, and was going to Havana with
her and with his ship. Garcia Osorio, who was Governor of that
island at the time that the Captain’s ship and the caravel entered that
harbor, sent to take the caravel which was anchored at a distance from
the ship, but he who was in charge of her, by command of Captain
Juan de la Parra, would not give her up, saying that his Captain had
commanded him to remain in her and hold her with all she had on
board, and that, without his permission, he should not allow any one to
come on board. So, because he made this reply to the Alguazil who
went for the caravel, and would not suffer him to come on board, the
Governor sent men from the town, armed, in two boats, to take the
caravel, and, in order that the soldiers who were on board guarding
her, might not defend her and be killed, the Captain, Juan de la Parra,
ordered the men on board not to defend her, but that they should
abandon her, and so they did. By the Governor’s order, they took the
caravel with all there was in her, also him who was charged to keep
her by command of the said Parra, Gonzalo Gallego by name, a pilot
well skilled in the navigation of the Indies, and chief pilot of the Cap-
tain ship, and, without making any charge, or obtaining any confession
from him, nor commencing any process against him, the Governor
commanded him to be maimed because he had not given up the caravel
to him the first time that he had sent to ask for it, and he, from fear of
his Captain, who had placed him there to guard her, could not give her
up without his leave. And the said Captain Juan de la Parra show-
ing some resentment at the violence which the Governor had done him
in taking the caravel and maiming his pilot, (though he was able to
prevent both the one and the other, for he had his ship with one hun-
dred and fifty men, and was captain of them all by command of Pedro
de las Roclas, until he should give the ship and the crew over to me,)
in his passion at the injury that the Governor had done him, said words
at which the Governor took offence, although certainly without reason,
for they were entirely without prejudice to his honor; yet he took
occasion to give them another meaning, although, even if they were as
he would understand them, he would have no cause to hold him for an
hour. The Governor therefore came himself to the Captain ship with
&ye, or six men only, with irons and an Alguazil and told the Captain
that he had come to take him prisoner and carry him ashore. And
the Captain, answering him that he was not strong enough to do it
unless he pleased, but begging him not to do it, and that he should not
take him, for that it would be an ill service to Your Majesty, and that
the crew of his ship would be scandalized by it, so that, even if he
should give himself up a prisoner, they would not consent to it. And
the Governor, having sworn by God and by the life of Your Majesty,

very many times that he would take him prisoner, and the Captain
Parra, seeing his determination, commanded all in the ship to remain
quiet, without moving, and, making his protest against the Governor,
gave himself up prisoner. And immediately the Governor, in the very
cabin of the Captain where he was, put him in irons, and took him out
of the ship with them, and from there took him prisoner to the prison
where it is now going on three months that he has kept him in this
manner, changing him from one part to another. When I came to
Havana, he carried him to the house of a brother of Juan de Roxas,
where he keeps him in irons and with a chain that passes into the
wall, with the doors and windows stopped up, having put in guard
over him this brother of Juan de Roxas, who is named Gomez de
Roxas, without consenting that anyone shall see him or speak with
him nor give evidence concerning him, or present any petition, and
without any complaint filed against him ; and so, justice is lost for this
Captain, and every body in the town says that a notorious wrong is
done him. And, by the truth which I shall speak before God our
Lord, and to Your Majesty, I have so understood that the charges
which it is said that he alleges, are so trivial that they are all contained
in this, that he did not dip his colors to the Governor, at Gape St.
Antonio, when he came in another ship, and because he said to him
that it would be better to defend his caravel, and that they should not
mutilate his pilot, if the whole town should be destroyed, since they did
him so great violence without justice, not being his judge. And, as I
understand, Juan de la Parra endured these injuries in patience, under-
standing that he permitted his pilot and himself to be put into prison,
when he saw that, in fact, the Governor did it, that he was doing Your
Majesty service in suffering it; and that, when I should arrive, the
Governor would give him up to me, with such charges as there might
be against him ; as being a person under my orders, having the largest
crew and ship, as Your Majesty had commanded by your Royal orders,
after Pedro de las Roclas had left here. When I arrived in Havana, I
would not speak to the Governor concerning this business in the first
two days, and on the third, desiring to do it by petition and with all
courtesy, he, hearing of it sent to tell me by Juan de Ynistrosa, Your
Majesty’s Treasurer in this Island, that no one should speak to him
concerning the Captain Juan de la Parra, for that in no manner should
he be spoken with nor seen, nor would he give him up to me. I hear-
ing this, and that they were treating him as no Christian ought to be
treated, nor as I am bound that they should treat one on his way to
report to me as Captain of a ship and crew to serve Your Majesty in
my company in whatever I should command and order him ; so with all
patience and in courteous terms I asked, as earnestly as I could, of the
Governor, that he should permit me to see and speak with him, and

that he would give hira up to me with the proceedings against him.
He would do neither the one nor the other, and on the other hand was
offended, that, having sent word to me that I should not speak to him
concerning this matter, I should not have complied. And although I
very easily and without any trouble could have taken Juan de la Parra
out from where he was to his ship so that he could return to duty,
inasmuch as there was no complaint nor charge against him, or if there
were and the proceedings were given over to me, I might have pro-
ceeded against him, according to justice, yet I was unwilling to do it for
fear of Your Majesty’s displeasure. And by a requisition I prayed the
Governor that he would give him up to me, a copy of which, with his
reply accompanies this. After Parra heard what was going on, and
that I was about to sail against the corsairs and that he was to remain,
he shouted like a madman in the prison and darkness where he was,
and it is feared he will lose his senses and is publicly stated that the
Governor is afraid that when he gets out from there, he will demand
justice against him. I did not know Parra and never saw him or spoke
to him, but, if he had been taken, even for some treason, and I had
given my word, as I did, to the Governor that I would not attempt to
free him nor take him from him against his will, and asked him to per-
mit me to see and speak with him, even in the presence of a notary and
he would not do it. I do not know what will be the end of a thing like
this, but I am sure that it will end the life of Captain Juan de la Parra,
before his complaint can come to Your Majesty’s knowledge ; for this
reason I have thought proper to notify Your Majesty of it, that you
may order that he shall be given over to me, with the proceedings, or
that he send him bound or free to Your court with the proceedings.

Moreover, the crew of the ship came to me requesting that I should
procure that their caravel which had been taken from them, should be
restored with what was in it, and I spoke to the Governor to that effect,
praying him in all friendship that he would do it, or that he would
assist me, or favor me with a portion of the money proceeds of the
caravel, in order to supply the people who were in Florida on Your
Majesty’s account, who were 300 soldiers, and I said that I would give
him bonds to repay all that should be given me, so soon as Your
Majesty should so order, and I represented my great necessities ; and
if he would not do this, that he would lend me some money to buy
some stores with, and that I would bind myself to pay it, but he would
do neither one nor the other. So I made my protest against him,
a copy of which, and of his reply accompanies this.

I found myself with very little artillery to go against the corsairs,
and the Captain-ship of Pedro de las Roclas had very few and very
small guns, because he carried out to Havana four large guns of Your
Majesty for the fort that is building there, so that with these he came

very strong, and as he had no great present need of them, and there
was much artillery iu the town, the brass guns of the two ships which
were there, yet he would lend me none of them. So, I drew up
a protest against him, a copy of which with his reply accompanies

The stores which I was able to pay for at Havana were given me at
the same prices at which they are sold to merchant ships coming and
going there, without showing me any favor, although the inhabitants
desired to do so, but, as the people are, for the most part, poor, they
could not although they desired to do so. Other things also the Gov-
ernor did to me, not treating me with the hospitality and respect to my
person which were reasonably due to my office and the confidence that
Your Majesty has always shown and still shows to me. And I surely
tell the truth to Your Majesty when I say that I consider it a greater
victory that T had the patience to endure and dissimulate under the bad
treatment that he gave me, than even the victory that I gained over
the Frenchmen in Florida. And as I have every day an absolute
necessity to go and come to this Island, and to Hispaniola and to Porto
Rico, and also my ships to be provided and equipped with every thing
necessary, and to get cattle and beef for Florida, these things cannot be
suffered to pass, for, if he does this with me, he will do it so much the
more with the Captains and officers of the fleet under my charge, and
with the shallops and zabras which may come into port in this
island. If I had understood the necessity there is that I should have
some authority in these islands, before the agreement I made, I would
not have accepted it, unless Your Majesty had given me some right to
be supplied and succored from here, so as to do every thing and endure
all those dangers and toils with the greater content. As this is expe-
dient for Your Majesty’s service I shall do what seems most proper
for it, for I say the whole truth to Your Majesty, as I am bound to do,
and which every faithful servant should tell to his prince ; that, if I had
the government of this island, I could do more in Florida in four years
than I shall do in ten, and at much less cost to Your Majesty’s royal

Considering that Your Majesty sends me 1800 men to Florida,
troops and seamen, I suspect that the King of France or his vassals are
about to send out some great fleet; and if this is the case, Your Majesty
should understand, unless you are already informed, that, although I
may resist them in Florida, as I hope in God that I shall, so that they
shall do me little harm in the parts where I may be, yet that they hold
many other ports in Florida, to which they may go, very good country,
and I cannot prevent them with the force I have, and they may be able
to turn back upon some of the fleets from the Indies, for this is their
whole design, and then fall upon these islands of Porto Rico, San

Domingo and Cuba, and will be able to take and plunder the settle-
ments in them and burn them and commit cruelties upon the inhabi-
tants, if they set themselves to do this, according to what I know of the
small force of either of them, and I assure Your Majesty that, unless
God shall miraculously defend them, they will succeed in doing this.
I have written to the Governor of Porto Rico that he should keep that
town on the lookout, for, although he may think that it is very strong,
having a good fortress and plenty of guns, and a round tower with eight
very good pieces, which are at the entrance, a hundred arquebusiers
would be enough to take the town and sack it, by landing, at the
round tower in boats, as they can very easily do, for there is not
a single man or soldier in it who sleeps there ; thence they can go to the
town, which is only a quarter of a league distant, and burn and sack it,
without the fort doing them any damage. I have also written to St.
Domingo to the President and Auditors that they should be prepared
and should notify all the harbors within their jurisdiction that they also
be ready. I shall also tell it to the Governor of this Island, for I fear
very much for Havana, being so good a harbor and on account of the
preparations they have made, that they may come and take the fort
and put it into a condition for defence, and, considering the armament
it has, it would be hard to take it back again. I shall exceedingly
desire to know if they come, and what force they will bring, and what
Your Majesty sends to me, that we may make an end, once foit all,
with these Frenchmen who come to the Indies in time of peace, and
that they shall lose the desire of going there again, for it would be very
important to know this, and it might be that Our Lord would be
pleased to give me victory over them ; and in order that I may cer-
tainly know it, I despatch this tender express to Your Majesty that you
may be pleased to advise me concerning the whole matter.

As to the fleet and succor that is coming to me for Florida, after
they have passed the Canary Islands, they have no occasion to go to
any one of these islands, but can go straight to Florida in 29 and a half
or 30 degrees, which is where the two forts of St. Augustine and St.
Matthew are, for there is a very good pilot who will know how to bring
them there, Domingo Fernandez, who is in the despatch-tender ; for so
they will make a shorter course and come in less than half the time ;
but, if they come by St. Domingo, and the Cape of San Antonio, Your
Majesty should understand that the voyage is very long and that they
will arrive very late in Florida. I shall have two frigates like gallies,
each of 20 oars in a side, that will carry two^ guns amidships, each of
twenty hundred weight, which are very light both for sails and oars,
and with these and the fleet that Your Majesty will send me, if it comes
in time, I shall put myself into St. Helena and into the Bay of St. Mary,
and shall engage the French fleet, if it comes, so that, neither in

Florida nor ia the Indies, can they do any damage, neither to the
merchant fleets ; but, as I tell Your Majesty, it is very necessary that
the succor that shall be sent to me shall sail direct for Florida, which
is a voyage of forty or fifty days, and to a very healthy place, where
the men will not be sick, and even if it should start by the beginning
of March, it will arrive in sufficient time ; but, if it comes by way of
St. Domingo, besides that many will die there, it cannot arrive in
Florida for three or four months, and the French, arriving first, will
be able to make themselves strong in St. Helena, on which they have
fixed their eyes, and where I am advised that there is a harbor and
river of six fathoms of water at low tide ; that the river runs up a hun-
dred leagues inland to the mountains, and that from there to Zacatecas
it is not two hundred and fifty leagues. They have called this harbor,
being so good, Port Royal.

I have also learned, from a Frenchman whom I took in the last fort,
that Jaques de Soria, he who took Havana and burned the fort, was to
come out there in the beginning of the spring with a great fleet and
afterwards fall upon some merchant fleet. Your Majesty will know this
better than I can, for it may be that this man lied to me. I shall have
these two frigates launched in the beginning of March, for I shall give
the bevels and lines to the owners who are to build them, so that they
will be better for these parts than gallies ; and as for security that I
shall be able to pay for them, and for the wages, I shall deposit jewels
and clothes, and shall find friends who will be sureties for the pay,
and when they are bought they will not cost above six thousand ducats,
fitted out as they should be with their oars and swift rowers and pro-
visions for the first six months and seamen, and there are few ships
that can keep up with them without wind and in calm.

If Your Majesty shall send me a commission of Captain General of
these parts of the Indies, Terra Firma, and the Ocean Islands, with
power to pursue corsairs, and to take ships that come to barter and
trade in these parts against Your Majesty’s will, and contrary to your
royal Provisions and Ordinances, and without registers, I will have
the galley slaves which these frigates will need, and with two others
to be built like them, Your Majesty holds the Indies and Florida
secure, so that no corsair will come to these parts, and if they do come,
they will be destroyed, neither will ships come to trade without license ;
for it is told for certain that what the Portuguese, English and French
have carried away and stolen in this year, is worth more than a million ;
also by trading and bartering with Your Majesty’s vassals in these
parts, under permits and royal patents with which they were provided,
but without having registers ; the cost of these four ships will be very
small ; and this land being thus subject to Your Majesty, you will be
pleased to give orders that I shall be repaid the outlay that I shall

make in them, and that all that I shall take shall be for myself; and if
nothing is given me to reward me in the service of Your Majesty, I
have the hope that you will favor me for such signal service by sending
me the commission, either perpetual in form or for such time as shall
be Your Majesty’s pleasure. I shall have two of these vessels ready in
March, and in March of the next year, I shall have the other two,
which shall be four in all. I only ask that Your Majesty will grant
me licenses for a thousand slaves, that I may sell them, in order to buy
slaves for these vessels, for my wish is in everything to serve Your
Majesty, with fidelity and truth as is due to Your Royal service and to
my profession as a mariner. I inform Your Majesty of all this, for it
seems to me due to Your Royal service, that you may provide every-
thing that you may think fit.

I have ordered this tender to touch at Hispaniola and deliver a letter
of mine at Puerta de Plata, or Monte Christo, or wherever else they
may land on the island, that it may be forwarded with all despatch to
the Audiencia, in which I write that they shall not prepare any beef,
and that, if they have already done so, they shall sell it ; for, when the
fleet shall arrive there, it will not do for it to take on board a quantity
of prepared beef, for it decays in the heat, and the crews will get sick
with it, and it makes a bad smell in the ships, and at much less cost I
will provide the crews fresh meat while they are cruising, also fresh
meat on shore, with the two barks that may come and go, and much
better than what they can prepare at San Domingo ; and for this Your
Majesty shall pay me whatever you may be pleased to allow, and as to
fish, as three or four fishing smacks are coming, and as I have two
barks engaged in fishing from the smacks, I can give any quantity of
very good and fresh fish to all the men, better than can be got from St.
Domingo or any other place, for that will spoil, just like the beef, and
give out a bad smell that cannot be endured ; so I write to the Audi-
encia not to get ready any fish ; and I tell the same thing to the Gover-
nor of Havana, not to get ready any beef or any fish. And if Your
Majesty shall be pleased to pay me, through the Governor, the proceeds
of the caravel, I shall be able to provide everything that may be
necessary here, and will render good and true account.

I promised Diego de Miranda, who is one of the principal gentlemen
of the Asturia, the eldest son of an eldest son, the heir of his house, to
appoint him principal Notary of Florida, and Secretary of the Govern-
ment, and gave him his commission accordingly, for he has served Your
Majesty many years in the fleets under my command, and is a man
worthy of all confidence, and who assisted me in my undertaking to
bring a quantity of men into Florida, I pray Your Majesty to show
him this favor, for it is very necessary.

I also promised Estevan de las Alas, and Pero Menendez Marquez,

and Hernando de Miranda the offices of Auditor, Purveyor and Trea-
surer, for all three are persons of trust, and all among the principal
men who have served Your Majesty many years in my company, all
having married noble women, and who, through their desire of these
offices, and their attachment to myself, may bring out their wives and
families, and for their sakes other married people will come out, which
will make a great beginning in the settling these Provinces of Florida
with a noble race. I pray Your Majesty to look favorably on this,
and do me the favor to grant these commissions. I agreed to give to
the crew of this tender for wages and provisions, for carrying my letter
to Hispaniola and this one to Your Majesty, one thousand ducats, for
it being December, in winter time and dangerous, I could not make any
better bargain with the pilot and master. I pray Your Majesty to
direct that the amount be given to Pedro del Castillo, prefect of Cadiz,
that he may pay them. And if Your Majesty will reply to me you
will be able to do it immediately, for this vessel is to return at once to
Florida with some ammunition that I have sent for, and a thousand half
gallon bottles, a thousand pair of sandals, and some matters of fish hooks
and trinkets for barter with the Indians, for these are very necessary.

At the time I made my agreement with Your Majesty I was still to
furnish six shallops of 50 tons each ; these should have been of one
hundred tons, but, by error, it was set down 50, and that Your Majesty
may understand that all these shallops are of one hundred and twenty
tons each, more or less, you will direct it to be examined in Your
Majesty’s pay books for they are all measured in this manner, and are
of these contents ; and, as I saw that the agreement said 50 tons,
which is small so that they are dangerous for the voyage from this
Kingdom to Florida, and the provisions that they can carry are hardly
sufficient for the crew that sail them for the outward and return voyage,
beside that they cannot carry any guns to go against the corsairs,
except very small and insufficient ones. I pray Your Majesty to cause
the pay books to be examined for the contents of these shallops, and
finding that they are of a hundred and twenty tons, more or less, as it
will appear, that you will order your certificate to be given me setting
forth that they are of this tonnage, in order that I may sell the little
ones, and take them of this tonnage, for with them to come and go in,
I can do great damage to the corsairs, and supply provisions and cattle
to Florida with great facility.

May Our Lord protect and prosper Your Majesty’s Royal Catholic
Person with increase of greater kingdoms and realms as we, Your
Majesty’s servants desire, and Christendom needs. Amen. From Ma-
tanzas, on the 5*^ of Dec.®™^^’ 1565. Your Majesty’s humble servant
kisses your Royal hands.

Pedro Menendez.

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