Spanish Florida Resources
Pensacola's 450th Anniversary Celebration
Throughout 2009, Pensacola celebrated the 450th
anniversary of the expedition of Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano to Pensacola Bay
in 1559, as the seed that eventually led to the establishment of the Spanish
city of Pensacola during the late 17th and 18th centuries. On this page I
have selected several of these events to highlight, and have provided a
historical timeline specifically relating to the Spanish settlement of Pensacola
during the First Spanish Period.
While the Luna expedition between 1559 and 1561
ultimately failed to establish a permanent Spanish presence in Pensacola,
and specific knowledge of Pensacola Bay was lost for some 125 years, the
rediscovery of Pensacola Bay in 1686 and its successful settlement in 1698
was largely due to the same reason that Luna's expedition was originally
outfitted: the fear of French colonization in southeastern North America.
Spanish forces in Veracruz returned twice to Pensacola Bay in order to
establish a preemptive colonial settlement designed to ward off French
designs: once in 1559, and once in 1698. The first attempt failed, in
large part due to an unexpected hurricane, while the second attempt
ultimately succeeded, though not without considerable difficulty.
Three successive presidios were established by the Spanish on Pensacola Bay,
and it was only the last one--San Miguel de Panzacola--which survives to the
present day. Nevertheless, in part through its long-term historical
connection to the port of San Juan de Ulua in Veracruz, Mexico, the modern
city of Pensacola traces its heritage straight back to the expedition of
Tristán de Luna, where the seeds of Pensacola's colonial history were first
A Brief Timeline of Pensacola
History during the First Spanish Period
The timeline below is a selection of major events in the
history of Pensacola's exploration and settlement during the First Spanish
Period (1513-1763). Important notes on specific
items are at the botttom of the page.
1519: Alonso Alvarez de Pineda
likely passes by Pensacola Bay in his first circumnavigation of the Gulf of Mexico.
1528: Members of the expedition of
Pánfilo de Narváez pass Pensacola Bay in barges on their voyage westward
toward New Spain, including the famous survivor and later chronicler of the
expedition Alvar Núnez Cabeza de Vaca.
1540-1543: Francisco1 Maldonado sails
west from the winter encampment of Hernando de Soto in the Apalachee
province and discovers the town/province of Achusi (Ochuse) on Pensacola
Bay, establishing this as the rendezvous point for Soto's army during their
exploration of the interior. Multiple return visits from Havana
produce no evidence of the lost expedition, the remnants of which finally
arrived in Pánuco, Mexico in September of 1543.
1559-1561: Tristán de Luna establishes
the first Spanish settlement on Pensacola Bay, named Santa María de Ochuse.
The settlement is garrisoned throughout the next two years, though most of
the colonists spend several months inland in Alabama during 1560 before
returning to the coast. The remnants of the colony are withdrawn by
the end of 1561.
1686: Juan Enríquez Barroto and Antonio
Romero re-discover Pensacola Bay during their reconnaissance of the Gulf of
Mexico in search of French colonists, adopting for the first time the name
for the bay given by the local Panzacola2
Indians living there at that time.
1693: Andrés de Pez explores and charts
Pensacola Bay in anticipation of its planned settlement.
1698-1719: Andrés de Arriola establishes
the second formal Spanish settlement on Pensacola Bay, a presidio named
Santa María de Galve.
The Veracruz-based settlement survives despite severe hostility from
slave raiders, until French forces from nearby Mobile capture Santa María in 1719
during the War of the Quadruple Alliance.
1719-1722: French forces occupy the site
of Santa María while the Spanish garrison temporarily fortifies itself on
the Bay of San Joseph, far to the east.
1722-17563: Spanish forces return after
the end of the war with France to
establish a new location for the Pensacola presidio on nearby Santa Rosa Island,
named Isla de Santa Rosa, Punta de Sigüenza. This
third Spanish settlement is
battered by hurricanes until it is nearly destroyed by one in 1752, after which a
gradual transfer of families to the mainland location known as San Miguel de
Punta Blanca is implemented between 1754 and 1756. The Santa Rosa
presidio is finally abandoned and fully transferred in 1756.
1756-1763: The fourth and final Spanish
settlement on Pensacola Bay, ultimately known as San Miguel de
Panzacola, is formally designated a presidio in 1756, fifteen years after a small warehouse and brick oven had
been placed there in 1741, and two years after the first military families
were granted authorization to relocate there in 1754. The fort and
village survive until the 1763 transfer of Florida to Britain after the
Seven Years War, after which Spanish residents and their Catholic Indian
neighbors evacuate to Veracruz.
1763-present: Under the simplified name
of Pensacola, the city grows and expands under British
rule. After the city is recaptured from the British by Spanish forces under
Bernardo de Gálvez in 1781, Pensacola continues to grow and flourish during
the Second Spanish (1781-1821) and American (1821-present) periods to become
a modern city of more than 50,000 inhabitants.
The correct name of Francisco Maldonado is well documented from
contemporary records of the Soto expedition and elsewhere, but later Soto
chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega (1605) incorrectly reported his first name
as Diego, and this erroneous name appears frequently in the secondary
literature about Maldonado's visits. Garcilaso's account is famous for
its exaggerations and misplaced names.
The name Panzacola is well-documented as an indigenous Native
American name for the local group of American Indians living along Pensacola
Bay during the last quarter of the 17th century (and the name appeared as an
Apalachee Indian surname as early as 1657 near modern Tallahassee),
but some recent historians have instead speculated that the term was derived
from Spanish origins, for which there is no documentary evidence at all.
Beyond this, since the name Panzacola does not appear in any of the
16th-century accounts of Spanish visits to Pensacola Bay (which all
uniformly referred to the indigenous province or town of Ochuse in
association with modern Pensacola Bay), the Panzacola Indians may well be
one of the many Native American groups which relocated from elsewhere during
the turbulent years of the 17th century, and thus may not be indigenous to
Pensacola Bay or even Northwest Florida. At present, there is no way
to determine if the Panzacola descended from the Ochuse Indians or not.
In addition, although a number of modern scholars have attempted to
translate the word Panzacola using the Choctaw language (which may be
related), there is no direct documentary evidence regarding the Panzacola
language, or the original meaning of the name.
Though the date of the abandonment of Presidio Isla de Santa Rosa is
widely reported in the secondary literature as 1752 (immediately following
the great hurricane which devastated the settlement), detailed review of the
documentary record from this period make it clear that Santa Rosa continued
to be staffed and occupied through 1756, although some families and others
were granted formal permission to begin relocating to the safer mainland
location at San Miguel (modern Pensacola downtown) beginning in July of
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Pensacola 450th Anniversary Events
/ Juan Sebastián de Elcano /
Spanish Royal Visit to Pensacola
February 19, 2009
February 19, 2009, as part of the 450th anniversary celebration of the Tristán
de Luna expedition, Pensacola was visited by King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sophia
Their historic visit included several stops across the
city, ranging from lunch at the Pensacola Naval Air Station to a stop at the
site of Fort George, captured by the Spanish from British forces in 1781
during the American Revolution. The King and Queen also toured the
exhibit on the Emanuel Point shipwreck and the Luna expedition at the
Museum. At noon, His Majesty also delivered a speech from the
museum's balcony to crowds gathered in historic Plaza Ferdinand.
The transcribed text of the speech is provided below,
since it now forms part of the documentary record of the Spanish heritage of
Pensacola, and was the first such event since the present King's ancestor
King Phillip II first set in motion the Luna expedition to Pensacola Bay.
In a way, the visit of the King and Queen of Spain in 2009 represented the
fulfillment of that early desire to establish a Spanish presence in Florida,
as the text of the speech so eloquently implies.
Speech Delivered by King Juan Carlos I at Plaza
Ferdinand, Pensacola, Florida, February 19, 2009
Thank you very much, Governor. Governor Crist, Senator Nelson,
Congressman Miller, Mayor Wiggins, Commissioner Young, dear citizens of
Pensacola. The Queen joins me in thanking you from our hearts for your
kind invitation to this beautiful and dynamic city, which contains so much
of the shared history of Spain and the United States. My sincere
congratulations for promoting Celebrate Pensacola 450. We had always
wanted to visit you. This great celebration is a unique occasion to do
so. Thank you very much, once again.
We feel naturally proud and honored to be able to commemorate with you
the founding of this first settlement in 1559. First Place City, a
title by which this special city is known, and which reflects your decision
to promote your history, which is also the history of Spain. As you
know, four and a half centuries ago, during the reign of another King of
Spain, my ancestor Phillip the Second, the navigator Tristán de Luna arrived
on these shores with the aim of settling here. He came with farmers,
and soldiers, with missionaries, and craftsmen, with men, women, children,
together with their pets and farming tools. They were guided by the
hope of achieving through hard work a better life for them, and for their
children. Thus they shared the same spirit of so many others who came
later to the United States. Here in this land, the seeds of that
extraordinary adventure took root and flourished. A new era began here
in this great nation, a close friend and ally of Spain. This is why
the cultural heritage of Pensacola is amongst the richest in North America.
Today, we are in Pensacola to tell you that Spain values your commitment
to preserving this Spanish legacy, and that we are proud of your ancestors,
and admire how their descendants have helped to build this country.
Pensacola, the City of Five Flags, is an extraordinary example of Spain’s
valuable contribution, first, to explore the territory of North America, and
later, to support the American Revolution, and the independence of the
United States of America. At the Battle of Pensacola, two centuries
after the city was founded, Bernardo de Galvez and his troops were a good
example of Spain’s decisive help to North American independence.
Thanks to that battle, the patriots achieved naval domination of the Gulf of
Mexico. Furthermore, Spain was then able to send through Galvez
financial aid, arms, and supplies to the American troops who were fighting
under the leadership of General Washington, thus contributing to the crucial
victory at Yorktown.
We proudly remember today our shared past, and the many Spaniards who
have made history in this city, and we do so while looking towards the
future. The history of the Spanish presence in the United States began
here, and continued in other places around the country during the sixteenth
century. Today, the Hispanic presence is a rich component to the
diversity and strength of American society. We are delighted to see
how Spaniards are coming once again to this land of La Florida and to other
U.S. states with the same innovative spirits, contributing to promote, with
a vision of the future, new technologies for the twenty-first century.
We are also pleased that the Spanish military tradition lives on in this
city nowadays through the presence of our young pilots who are being trained
in Pensacola, the cradle of naval aviation.
Dear friends, the Queen and I thank you for your warm and generous
welcome, one we will never forget. Thank you again for your efforts in
preserving our common heritage, for commemorating your town’s important
place in the history of North America, and for your willingness to keep
working together with Spain for a better future.
Viva Pensacola; long live Pensacola; thank you very much.
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Juan Sebastián de Elcano" Visit
June 3-9, 2009
Another special event in the 450th Anniversary celebrations
was the visit of the Spanish Navy training ship the
Juan Sebastián de Elcano,
named for the Spaniard who completed Ferdinand Magellan's planned
circumnavigation of the globe after Magellan's 1521 death in the Philippines.
At 113 meters long, the ship is the third largest of its kind in the world, and
its visit to Pensacola marked a rare opportunity to see a Spanish sailing vessel
docked in Pensacola in modern times.
de Elcano docked at the Port of Pensacola.
||Rigging and furled
sails on board the Elcano.
||Crowds waiting in line to
board the Elcano.
||Figurehead of Goddess
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"Conquistadors, Colonists, and the Crown: Stories of
16th-century Spanish Florida"
September 18-19, 2009
The final official event in Pensacola's
year-long celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Luna
expedition was a public symposium made possible by funding
Spain-Florida Foundation and the
Consul General of Spain in Miami, and also
West Florida Historic
Solé Inn and Suites, the
West Florida Institute of Archaeology/Department of
Florida Public Archaeology Network, and
Pensacola Archaeological Society. The two-day
symposium was well-attended, and brought together scholars
in both archaeology and history to discuss recent findings
and the broader historical context of Luna's 1559-1561
expedition. The full schedule of events is provided
below. I hope to post photos of the event soon.
5:00-6:30 pm, Reception and book signing
(T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum)
7:00-8:00 pm, Dr. Judith A. Bense, University of West Florida
Keynote Address (Old Christ Church)
Saturday, September 19
(Old Christ Church)
9:15-10:15 am, Dr. Paul Hoffman,
Louisiana State University
"Why We Don’t Speak Spanish: Thoughts About The Spanish South to Ca. 1650"
10:15-11:15 am, Dr. Mary
Glowacki, State of Florida, Bureau of Archaeological Research
"Anhaica Apalache and De Soto’s Winter Encampment: An Unfinished Story"
11:15 am - 12:00 pm, Dr. John
Worth, University of West Florida
"The Tristán de Luna Expedition in Historical Context"
1:00-2:00 pm, Dr. Roger Smith,
State of Florida, Bureau of Archaeological Research
"The Archaeology of the Emanuel Point I Ship"
2:00-3:00 pm, Dr. John
Bratten, University of West Florida
"The Archaeology of the Emanuel Point II Ship"
3:00-3:45 pm, Dr. Kathleen
Deagan, University of Florida
"After Luna: The Archaeology of the Pedro Menéndez Era in St. Augustine,
Photos below taken by Irina Franklin.
||Speakers in 450th
||Old Christ Church, venue for
the 450th anniversary symposium.