The Enterprise of Florida

The Enterprise of Florida: Pedro Menedez de Aviles and Spanish Conquest of 1565-1568

by Eugene Lyon

This biography of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, described as "magisterial" by Florida Historical Quarterly, explicates the role of private conquerors in Spanish expansion. Using primary materials in Spanish and Florida archives, many studied for the first time, Eugene Lyon refutes the claim that the Spanish contract to settle Florida was signed with Menéndez in response to news of the French foothold at Fort Caroline. Not merely an expedition of military dominance or even of religious zeal, the Florida enterprise was primarily a joint commercial venture between Menéndez and the Crown, with the adelantado assuming most of the risks. Menéndez negotiated contracts for opening trade and agricultural centers, and he exploited family ties, particularly with his Asturian kinship group, who supported the adventure with men, ships, and money.