and had preyed upon Spanish shipping. In regard to Florida, Philip II
desired not as much to establish Spanish colonies as he did to protect the
route of his rich treasure fleets along the Florida coast.
Pedre Menendez de Aviles, who had served Philip in Flanders
during war between Spain and France, who had later made many
voyages to America as Captain-General of the treasure fleets, and had
proved both his ability and his loyalty to the Spanish Crown, was chosen
to head the expedition that sailed for Florida on June 29, 1565.
Menendez was instructed to destroy the French fort and establish
defenses so that other Europeans could not secure a foothold.
Ribaut, delayed by storms, arrived on August 28th. Fort Caroline
immediately became a beehive of industry; the fort was strengthened,
additional quarters were planned, and preparations made for planting
crops. It was the unofficial intent of Coligny that Fort Caroline should
be a permanent refuge for the Huguenots. But Spain was equally
determined that neither Catholic nor Huguenot French should be
established in Florida.
On September 4, 1565, the French colony was thrown into a state of
alarm by the appearance of the Spanish galleons. Menendez immediately
launched an attack upon the French float anchored at the mouth of the
River of May, but the sailors aboard the latter cut their cables and fled,
soon outdistancing the slower Spanish ships. Returning from the futile
chase, Menendez found that the French infantry had hastily completed
plans for a strong defense of the River of May, and decided to