Sunday, November 15, 2009

In the News: Influential local: Juan Ponce de Leon

Influential local: Juan Ponce de Leon
The News-Press - Fort Myers,FL,USA

"November 14, 2009 1:10 AM — Everything changed after Juan Ponce de Leon sailed along the southwest coast of a place he thought was an island and dubbed "La Florida," or land of flowers..."

OK, its not really "News' as such, more of a local interest background story. It's unusual for two things, first that it even mentions Ponce's 1521 colonization attempt, and secondly that it does not mention the "Fountain of Youth " story at all. I've got a couple of minor quibbles with the piece. In particular the 'shot in the butt' line at the end, whist mildly amusing in an otherwise pretty dry account. The historical record, limited though it is might be twisted to imply such an injury occurred, but its a pretty weak basis to make such a statement.


"and he [PdL] escaped wounded grievously by an arrow;"

Herrera -c. 1601: (Probably echoing and embellishing Oviedo without any additional source)

"and he [PdL] wounded in the thigh..."

From "History of Juan Ponce de Leon's Voyages to Florida Source Records " by T. Fredrick Davis 1935

Saturday, November 14, 2009

In the News: Excavation finds in Telfair could rewrite history on DeSoto

More news of the recent excavations in Georgia, in particular some of the arguments for and against the evidence of its being a De Soto contact site.

Excavation finds in Telfair could rewrite history on DeSoto
Macon Telegraph - Macon,GA,USA

A Telfair County archaeological site has yielded the largest number of early Spanish artifacts ever found outside Florida, prompting its lead archaeologist to conclude that it – and not Macon – was a location visited by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto....We think DeSoto would have headed to the Fall Line where villages were,” said Marvin Smith, an archaeologist at Valdosta State University. ..."

Of particular note the last line of the story:

"Blanton said Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta plans to open an exhibit in April or May featuring items found at the excavation."

Old Florida Festival Report Part 1

I spent last weekend at the Collier County Museum's Old Florida Festival. I had a good if exhausting time. In the "yes, I am somebody" category, I managed along with our new recruit Carlos and a Cub Scout to get our picture in the paper on Sunday, page 3 no less! I doesn't appear to have made to the Naples News on-line edition so here are photos of the article.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In the News: Soto Archaeology

A couple of news stories on a possible De Soto expedition contact site in Georgia.

Archaeologist: Beads, metal tools suggest 16th-century explorer de Soto passed through Ga.
WTKR Your NewsChannel 3 - Norfolk,VA,USA
... have turned up beads, metal tools and other artifacts that may pinpoint part of the elusive trail of the 16th-century Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. ...

Though I should think the headline is a bit misleading as there is no doubt that Soto's entrada passed through what is now the State of Georgia, rather the exact route is the matter of scholarly debate. Beads and iron objects are transportable, but a large number found in one aea suggests a direct contact site.

This story contains a photo of the aforementioned beads:

Archaeologists Track Infamous Conquistador Through Southeast
Nov 5, 2009 ... Archaeologists have discovered evidence of Hernando de Soto's ... " Archaeologists have a pretty good handle now on what a De Soto site would look like. ... and De Soto scholar at the Parkin Archaeological State Park in ...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ghost Story

Halloween seems the appropriate day to post a period ghost story. Bartolome de las Casas became in his campaign for fair treatment of the New World's native inhabitants, one of the few chroniclers of the early conquest of Hispanola (in modern day the Dominican Republic and Haiti). La Isabela was the name of Columbus' settlement that he established on his second voyage across the Ocean Sea. The site proved problematic and was abandoned after a few years.

This is from: History of the Indies Bartolome de las Casas. Collard, Andrée M. trans. & ed.
Harper Torch Books, New York, New York 1971

"..the Christians' misery grew stronger every day as the possibilities of relieving it diminished...And what made it worse was the idea that they were going to die of starvation so far away, without any of the usual consolations afforded a dying man, not even someone to give them a glass of water...So, then, many noblemen raised in comfort who had never known a day of hardship in their lives found their misery intolerable and some died in a state of great turmoil; even, it is feared, of utter despair.
For this reason, the residents of Hispaniola were terrified to go to Isabela after it was abandoned. Reports circulated about the horrible voices and frightening cries that could be heard day and night by anyone who happened to pass near the town. There was a story about a man walking through the deserted town and coming upon people lining the street on both sides who were dressed like the best Spanish courtiers. The man awed by this unexpected vision, greeted them and asked where they came from. But they kept silent, answering only by lifting a hand to their hats, as a sign of greeting, and as they took off their hats,the whole head came off so that two files of beheaded gentlemen were left lining the street before they vanished altogether. The man almost died of fright, and the story was told quite frequently among the common people here."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Old Florida Festival

The Old Florida Festival a history timeline event is at the Collier County Museum in Naples this weekend.

A Ship!

A series of small domestic disasters has kept me from posting, or rather its kept me from being inspired enough to post.

In any event some news, from this mornings St. Augustine Record the inspired me enough to post:

'16th-century' ship to be built

In 2011, professional shipwrights using wooden nails and ancient tools will build a 16th-century Spanish caravel, a type of three-masted ship that sailed with the fleet of Don Pedro de Menendez, founder of St. Augustine.

Its tentative name: "St. Augustin."...

Great news if indeed they can pull it off. Fund raising, is of course the critical and according the news story 2010 will be spent doing such along with the design phase. As to the tentative name"St. Augustin", I should think San Augustin would be more appropriate.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rough Audience

I started reading Hugh Thomas' Rivers of Gold this weekend as DEEP background for PdL. I came across this passage describing an incident on Columbus' third voyage. p.173.

"They [Natives of Trinidad] wore what seemed to be Moorish headdresses. Columbus tried to attract them by shining swords or even saucepans at them, but they were even less attracted by Juan de Guadalajara, who played a tambourine and whose charming music (to which some of the Spaniards danced) led them to begin shooting arrows. Columbus ordered crossbows to be fired. The natives rowed away."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Maravilloso Aracabucero

Another passage from Cieza's Discovery and Conquest of Peru. pp.112-113. This one on the effects of the arquebus or matchlock musket.

"He and they [Lord of Tumbez & his entourage] were surprised to see Pedro de Candia's stature, and they begged him to discharge an arquebus that he carried because he had done it on a ship several times in the presence of some Indians, which was the reason why the others knew about it. In order to please them, he placed the fuse, and aiming it at a thick board that was near there, he hit it and shot through it as if it were a melon. When the arquebus discharged, many of the Indians fell to the ground, and others screamed, and they judged the Christian very brave because of his stature and for discharging those shots. Some say that the lord of Tumez ordered that they should bring a lion and a tiger [puma and jaguar? - and I have to wonder if Candia must have been having second thoughts at this point] they had there to see if Candia could defend himself from them or if they would kill him. They brought them and set them loose on Candia, who having the arquebus loaded, fired it, and more Indians than before fell to the ground in fright. And without the Indians, the animals came to him as gentle as if they were lambs, as Candia told it. The cacique ordered them returned to where they had been. He asked Candia for the arquebus and poured many cups of their maize wine into the barrel, saying: "Take it, drink, since one makes such great noise with you that your are similar to the sounds of the heavens." And he ordered Pedro de Candia to sit down. They gave him plenty to eat and asked him many things about wht they wanted to know. He answered what he could to make them understand. he saw the fortress. The mamaconas, who are the sacred virgins, wanted to see him, and they sent to beg the ruler to bring him there. Thus it was done. They were extremely pleased to see Candia...Most of them were beautiful, and all very affectionate.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Art of the De Soto Junior Ranger Book, on display at the South Florida Museum

The Art of the De Soto Junior Ranger Book, on display at the South Florida Museum

The Art of the De Soto Junior Ranger Book, on display at the South Florida Museum

BRADENTON, FLORIDA – The South Florida Museum and the National Park Services’ De Soto National Memorial are joining together to launch the release of the new De Soto Junior Ranger Activity Book. The event will feature the work of local artist and historian Hermann Trappmann, whose pieces are featured in the book. A month long exhibit will open on September 20th in the curator’s choice gallery, with an evening reception on Friday, September 25th. The free evening event is for kids and adults and will run from 6pm to 8pm. The reception will include a meet and greet with the artist Hermann Trappman and book designer Jessie Lampack. While there, kids will be able to earn a unique South Florida Museum- De Soto National Memorial Junior Ranger badge. Each child will receive an autographed copy of the new book along with other giveaways and door prizes. Enjoy snack and beverages with Park Rangers and volunteers dressed in 16th century Conquistador period clothing. Please RSVP by calling 941-746-4131 x 11

Event admission and all activates are free. Event hours are 6:00p.m. till 8:00 p.m..
The South Florida Museum is located at 201 10th St. W., Bradenton, Fl

34205. by Interstate take I-75 exit 220 travel West down SR 64/Manatee Ave to 10th St W take a Left, on Right side past Barcarrota Blvd.

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Colonist, Conquistadors, and the Crown

I just found out about this via a Google alert. Alas, quite a bit little late for me to plan on attending. It's certainly the kind of programs that should be encouraged for the upcoming Ponce de Leon (500th) and St. Augustine (450th) founding commemorations.

Colonist, Conquistadors, and the Crown


September 18-19, 2009
Pensacola, FL

In honor of the 450th anniversary of the Luna expedition (1559), Celebrate Pensacola!, the Spain-Florida Foundation, West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc., University of West Florida Archaeology Institute and Department of Anthropology, and the Florida Public Archaeology Network are hosting a public symposium in order to educate the public about the role of Pensacola during the 16th century Spanish exploration and colonization of the new world. The symposium will be held on the exact anniversary of the hurricane that destroyed the Luna colony, preventing Pensacola from being the oldest continually occupied city in the United States. Internationally recognized scholars from throughout the United State and Spain will deliver lectures on a variety of topics within the context of 16th century Spanish colonization. This symposium provides a unique opportunity for Pensacola’s residents and visitors to learn from and interact with leading scholars in history and archaeology.

We wish to specially thank these organizations for their generous donations that funded the symposium:

Spain-Florida Foundation

Consul General of Spain, Miami

Schedule of Events

Friday, September 18, 2009 (Gallery Night)

5:00 pm-6:30 pm, Reception, Meet the scholars and purchase signed copies of
Unearthing Pensacola and Colonial Pensacola (T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum)

7:00-8:00 pm, Keynote Address, Dr. Judith A. Bense (Old Christ Church)

Colonist, Conquistadors, and the Crown: Stories of 16-Century Spanish Florida

Old Christ Church, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

9:00- 9:15 Welcome & Introductions

9:15-10:15 Dr. Paul Hoffman, Louisiana State University
Why We Don’t Speak Spanish: Thoughts About The Spanish South to Ca. 1650

10:15-11:15 Dr. Mary Glowacki, State of Florida, Bureau of Archaeological Research
Anhaica Apalache and De Soto’s Winter Encampment: An Unfinished Story

11:15- 12:00 Dr. John Worth, University of West Florida
The Tristán de Luna Expedition in Historical Context

12:00- 1:00 Lunch (on your own)

1:00-2:00 Dr. Roger Smith, State of Florida, Bureau of Archaeological Research
The Archaeology of the Emanuel Point I Ship

2:00-3:00 Dr. John Bratten, University of West Florida
The Archaeology of the Emanuel Point II Ship

3:00-3:45 Dr. Kathleen Deagan, University of Florida
After Luna: The Archaeology of the Pedro Menéndez Era in St. Augustine, 1565-1572

3:45-4:00 Closing Remarks

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In the News: Experts closing in on site of bloody battle of Mabila

Experts closing in on site of bloody battle of Mabila - Birmingham,AL,USA
"For almost two centuries, professionals and amateurs have quested after the lost city where the army of Spanish conquistador Hernando De Soto clashed with ..."

An expanded version of the story linked in the previous post with morte information and a map. Still no real news as such.

In the News: Team may be closer to De Soto battle site

Team may be closer to De Soto battle site
The Huntsville Times -

"For almost two centuries, professionals and amateurs have quested after the lost city where the army of Spanish conquistador Hernando De Soto clashed with ...We are always looking for the smoking sword, but just finding one doesn't mean that is where De Soto was..."

No real news, in particular any 16th C. artifacts or new primary documents, on the subject but at least archaeologists are still looking."

The Lance Bucket

Another brief passage from Cieza's The Discovery and Conquest of Peru p.166

"...the Spaniards attacked them [Indians], mounted on their horses with their lances in hand, not wanting to return them to the lance bucket."

What is most interesting here is that in all my years of reading conquistador accounts I had never come cross the term 'lance bucket' or something similar. Nor had I ever seen a period illustration of such a device for holding ones lance until Napoleonic era cavalry in the late 18th/early19th century. The subject came up about a year ago in the Soldados email discussion group and there seems to be no evidence for their use by the Spanish colonial troops in the 18th C. at all. It is a bit of a curiosity why something apparently so practical didn't get widely adopted and seems to have been lost, only to be rediscovered two centuries later.

While on the subject of lances, and what got me reminded to dig out this passage was, a section of "History's Worst Jobs" hosted by Tony Robinson (Baldric from Blackadder) on the History International channel this morning. Bottomline, it took about two days roughcut, trim, scrape and lathe a lance using hand (and foot powered) tools.

On You Tube:

The Worst Jobs in History - The Royal Age - Part 1

Special bonus a quick lesson on making riveted mail.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Arms and Armor

Another interesting passage on a muster from Cieza de Leon's The Discovery and Conquest of Peru p.399

Cochabamba c.1534

"He [Alonso de Alvarado] ordered that all who had joined him should come out in public because he wanted to see how the footmen were armed. They appeared with bucklers and swords or crossbows, short coats [of mail?], and strong padding, useful for war here, and the horsemen with their lances and morions and other armor made of cotton."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

De Soto Winter Encampment Site

It has been a few years since I last visited the De Soto Winter Encampment Site in Tallahassee. I see by the De Soto Winter Encampment Site 1539-1540 Image Gallery that the State has added some exhibits at last. Still, the Florida State Parks website does not even list it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Conquistadors as the Food

Again a passage from The Discovery and Conquest of Peru by Pedro de Cieza de Leon
This one on conquistadors being the food.

"Some died from illness, and others were bloated, and some were eaten by caymen in the rivers when they crossed from one side to the other. The mosquitoes bothered them considerably."

"They were continually dying, and the Spaniards and others were becoming ill, while they were crossing the rivers, the caymen were feeding on them to satiation."

Food and Clothing of the Conquistadors

When reading period accounts of the Conquistadors I try to take notes as aids in research for reenactment. Some time ago I read The Discovery and Conquest of Peru by Pedro de Cieza de Leon (edited and translated by Parma Cook & Noble David Cook, Duke University Press 1998)pp.56-57

"...they had to return quickly to relive those who had remained with Captain Francisco Pizarro. They loaded the ship with a good supply of maize, meat, bananas, and other fruits and roots.....

...the beach where they had found the coconuts...He was carrying in a backpack [another of those times where I'd love to see the original word - a"backpack" isn't something one typically sees in period illustrations]three loaves of bread for the captain and four oranges [per the footnote on this passage, Oviedo planted orange trees in Darien around 1514]...Pizarro divided the loaves and oranges among all of them without himself eating more than the others [suggesting of course that it was a Captain's prerogative to do just that] They became as invigorated as if each had eaten an entire capon."

"Because most of the shirts they wore were made of coarse linen, their clothes were rotting, and their hats and caps were falling to pieces."

..and also a brief mention a of a tent:

"...I walked out of a tent in the valley and drenched in water I climbed up to the hills just to escape them [mosquitoes]."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Aztec Temple of Blood

I caught the end of a repeat broadcast of the Aztec Temple episode from the Unsolved History series cable's Military Channel last night. It originally aired on TLC or Discovery a few years ago.

Unsolved History
Aztec Temple

In 1519, the Aztecs were the most powerful and fearsome civilization in the Americas. The center of Aztec life was Templo Mayor, located in the middle of their capital city, Tenochtitlan, now modern Mexico City. The 12-story pyramid was used for worship.

The blurb above doesn't begin to do the show justice as it features not only recreations of Aztec and Spanish weapons, their use and a comparison of effects, but human sacrifice experimental archaeology!

El Dorado Conquistador Museum

After the last post's obsessive research mode, I direct your attention, gentle reader, to Minnesota's El Dorado Conquistador Museum .

Friday, September 4, 2009

Paw-Paw fruit

This news item;

Pawpaw: Provides fruit for Ozarks desserts - Springfield,MO,USA
"The first historical reference of pawpaws was made by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1541, who found it growing in villages east of the Mississippi ..."

caught my attention for for a not so obvious reason. Almost a decade ago in preparation for the De Soto 2000 event in Parkin, Arkansas, I'd researched clothing and food used by the expedition west of the Mississippi, which by then was totally dependent on native wear and cuisine, and I simply couldn't remember ever coming across a mention of pawpaws, not could I find the fruit in a review my old notes. I
fondly recall stirring a pot with a persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) stick at the event as persimmons are specifically noted, but pawpaw just didn't ring a bell. So I double checked with my copy of Adin Baber's rather comprehensive Food Plants of the De Soto Expedition 1539-1541., published in the journal Tequesta in 1942. Again no mention of pawpaws. Searching the available on-line De Soto Chronicles for 'pawpaws' had the same result. So where is this authoritative historical fact coming from? I asked myself.

At Pawpaw-treat-yourself-taste I found this quote,"Native Americans collected and cultivated the fruits, and 400 years ago a traveling companion of De Soto compared them to buttery, sweet pears. (He had never tasted a banana.)" Again, searching for "buttery," "sweet," or "pears" failed to turn up a match. The De Soto, never tasted a banana aside seemed questionable too. The Elvas account mentions the expedition's time in Cuba where the resupplied after the voyage from a Spain and before the La Florida entrada.


"There is a tree, which is a stalk without any branch, the height of a lance, each leaf the length of a javelin, the fruit of the size and form of a cucumber, the bunch having twenty or thirty of them, with which the tree goes on bending down more and more as they grow: they are called plantanos in that country, are of good flavour, and will ripen after they are gathered, although they are better when they mature on the tree"

Though in fairness I should note that that the yellow sweet banana that we all know is a 19th Century mutation of the plantain.

Continuing my Google search I came across pawpaw :

"Pawpaw was first described by a Portuguese adventurer traveling with Hernando de Soto as the army of 600 men explored the southeastern states from 1539 to 1542.

For the next 200 years, little is heard of pawpaw until it was described by Mark Catesby in a history book. He included a full-sized painting of pawpaw."

Yes, at last clue, the "Portuguese adventurer" has to be Elvas who as he did in Cuba, particularly noted foodstuffs. Reading carefully the chapter:


"There is everywhere in the country a fruit, the produce of a plant like ligoacam, that is propagated by the Indians, having the appearance of the royal pear, with an agreeable smell and taste."

Which must be the source of the pawpaw reference. (I'd searched for "pears' rather than "pear" which had a number of letter string false positives) Still, what's a "ligoacam"? Searching for that term simply results in self referencing the Elvas account. Mystery solved at least partially.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Menendez Fort and Camp

The City of St. Augustine's 444th birthday celebration takes place on Saturday, here's a little bit on the:

The Founding of St. Augustine, 1565

"On Saturday, the 8th, the general landed with many banners spread, to the sound of trumpets and salutes of artillery. As I had gone ashore the evening before, I took a cross and went to meet him, singing the hymn Te Deum laudamus. The general marched up to the cross, followed by all who accompanied him, and there they kneeled and embraced the cross. A large number of Indians watched these proceedings and imitated all they saw done. The same day the general took formal possession of the country in the name of his Majesty, and all the captains took the oath of allegiance to him, as their general and governor of the country. When this ceremony was ended, he offered to do everything in his power for them, especially for Captain Patino, who during the whole voyage had ardently served the cause of God and of the King, and, I think, will be rewarded for his assiduity and talents in constructing a fort in which to defend ourselves until the arrival of help from Santo Domingo and Havana."
-Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales

“As soon as he reached there (the harbor of St. Augustine) he landed about 300 soldiers and sent two captains with them, who were to reconnoiter that daybreak the next morning the lay of the land and the places which seemed to them strongest (for defense), in order that they might dig a trench quickly while it was being seen where they could build a fort…” Gonzálo Solís de Méras

The trenches in the photos are, ironically enough, from the Florida Museum of Natural History's dig at the Fountain of Youth site, where Menendez's Fort and Camp were located in 1565. Arriving on site at a Drake's raid a few years ago, we discovered that the FLMNH's field school hadn't quite finished with their excavations that spring. Finding that the field hadn't been backfilled we couldn't help but to take the rare opportunity to practice fortification tacticals during the day.

On line St. Augustine exhibit

Sunday, August 30, 2009

St. Augustine to celebrate 444 years & Landing reenactment is Sept. 5

In the News: with selected highlights.

St. Augustine to celebrate 444 years

"Here comes another birthday. St. Augustine will be observing its 444th next weekend, although the actual date of the town's founding is Sept. 8, this year a Tuesday."

Landing reenactment is Sept. 5

"Sept. 5, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Mission Nombre de Dios, 27 Ocean Ave., there will be an historical reenactment of the landing by the city's founder, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles..."

"Reenactors will conduct the landing ceremony, and Richard Lani [sic] (Its Lanni) will portray Menendez."

"We are making extra efforts this year to have a more authentic reenactment of the landing and presentation of the cross and flag," says Eric Johnson, Mission executive director. "There will be more pageantry, cannon fire and opportunity for those attending to participate in the ceremony. Mass is celebrated at the end to commemorate the celebration of the first parish Mass celebrated immediately after Menendez arrived 444 years ago."

For the past couple of years this hasn't the most fun event for me, so I'm skipping this years festivities. I wish them the best of luck.

Pedro Menendez’s landing to be reenacted

Press Release:

Pedro Menendez’s landing to be reenacted

September 3rd through 5th, St. Augustine will celebrate its 444th birthday with three full days of special events and activities.

This year’s birthday events will focus attention on the Native Americans who lived here before, during and after the arrival of the Spanish settlers. As always, the reenactment of Pedro Menendez’s landing in 1565 will be followed by a celebration of Mass and demonstrations of culture and lifestyles of natives who were already here when Menendez arrived.

St. Augustine has set a remarkable record for endurance that is unmatched in American history. Despite hurricanes, wars, plagues and countless pirate raids, the city has survived and flourished continuously since September 8, 1565 when its birth was proclaimed by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles.

Celebrating Those Who Were Already Here

Of course, the Spaniards were not the first to think of the St. Augustine area as “home.” When the Menendez expedition arrived, Native Americans known as the Timucua had been living there for at least 500 years. In fact, from the first moments of their arrival, the Spaniards encountered the residents of Seloy, a large Timucuan village located at the present site of the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park. From 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday, September 3-4, the park will feature exhibits and living history presentations highlighting the culture of the Timucuas, as well as the Seminoles and other U.S. Indian tribes that have been part of Florida’s history. In addition, from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, an Indian Pow Wow honoring Native American traditions that are part of the city’s history will be held at the park. Admission is free to all of these events. The Fountain of Youth Archeological Park is located at 11 Magnolia Avenue, just off San Marco Avenue (A1A) in St. Augustine.

Landing Reenactment & Celebration of Mass

A full day of birthday activities begins on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at the Mission of Nombre de Dios when authentically-clad Spanish soldiers gather along the shoreline to greet the city’s founder, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, who will arrive shortly aboard an authentic re-creation of a 16th century ship’s boat. To the sound of cannon firing and cheers, Menendez will step ashore at the exact landing point where the Spanish colonists landed in 1565. In an accurate portrayal of the founding of the place he had earlier named San Agustin, Menendez will kneel and kiss the cross brought forward by Father Lopez, the fleet’s chaplain, and proclaim possession of the land in the name of the King of Spain.
Following the landing, Mayor Joe Boles will read a proclamation from the City of St. Augustine and there will be a presentation by Dr. Susan Parker, Executive Director, St. Augustine Historical Society. Next, just as it was 444 years ago, a celebration of Mass will take place at an outdoor wooden altar by the water’s edge. Father Thomas Walsh, Pastor of San Sebastian Catholic Church, will celebrate Mass at the location where Father Lopez performed the first Mass in what is now the United States. Today, a 208 foot stainless steel cross erected to celebrate the city’s 400th birthday in 1965 towers above the Mission Nombre de Dios, located at 27 Ocean Avenue just off San Marco Avenue.

16th Century Cooking Contest

Fifty-five years before the Pilgrims sat down for a Thanksgiving feast, the good people of St. Augustine had already established the same tradition with their neighbors the Timucuas. In honor of that truly first Thanksgiving, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park will host a cooking contest featuring meals created from 16th century recipes. On Saturday, from 6-9 p.m., the prepared food will be judged and there will be plenty of sampling of the Spanish flavors along with demonstrations of the traditions that have influenced the culinary culture of St. Augustine. Authentic 16th Century dinners will be available for purchase and period music and dancing will be performed throughout the evening. For information on entering the contest, call 904.669.1485.
Admission is free to all of the activities related to the celebration of St. Augustine’s 444th birthday.

Columbus Quincenternary T-shirt

Clearly we're in the summer doldrums reenactment-wise as the Menendez Landing event in St. Augustine isn't until next Saturday and I'm posting a T-shirt picture. This is actually my favorite "first encounter' 'logo'. I bought this when I was working in the Dominican Republic in 1992/93 and is honoring the Columbus quincentenary.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Seinfeld Conquistadors

From the Seinfeld episode, "The Movie"

Elaine joins George in the queue.

Elaine: I've been *dying* to see ``CheckMate''.

George: Well, if it's as good as ``Ponce de Leon'', I'll be happy.

Elaine: ``Ponce de Leon'', are you kidding me? I hated that movie!

George: ``Ponce de Leon''? But that was great!

Elaine: Oh, . That Fountain of Youth scene at the end, where they're all splashin' around, and then they go running over to the mirror to see if it really worked? I mean, come on! [laughing too hard to continue] That's stupid!

George: Lemme tell you sum'in. When Ponce looked in that mirror and saw that he hadn't changed, and that tear started to roll down his cheek? ... I lost it.

Apparently, a movie that can be interpreted on two levels.

....and from the episode "The Boyfriend"

George: "Magellan? You like Magellan?"

Jerry: "Oh yeah, my favorite explorer. Around the world, come on. Who do you like?"
George: I like DeSoto.

Jerry: DeSoto? What did he do?

George: He discovered Mississippi.

Jerry: Yeah, like they wouldn't have found that anyway.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

De Soto's Boat Under Construction

There was an article in the Bradenton Herald yesterday,( Tuesday, August 25, page8D) on the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez. Of particular note was the photo of the boat under construction that De Soto National Memorial has commissioned. The boat is about 25 feet long with a plank hull.

Monday, August 24, 2009

More photos of the 2009 de Luna Landing

I can't help myself, more photos of the 2009 De Luna landing 'reenactment' from over a week ago. This one is an actual sequence showing the landing. Clearly the individuals involved are trying to do a serious and reasonable job, as compared to some things I've witnessed, they're doing a good job. Still its clear that they have a long road to go, such as getting a correct flag, and wearing period clothing instead of costumes.

Alex & Carol 1559 PENSACOLA 2009 de Luna landing reenactment
Spanish sailor Don Tristán de Luna stepped ashore in Pensacola on August 15 1559 ...

I hope we can do much better for the Ponce de Leon 500th landing reenactment.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Did de Soto sleep in your backyard?

In the news: a story about a proposal to do additional archaeological survey work around the neighborhood of the De Soto Winter Encampment site in Tallahassee.

Mary Ann Lindley: Did de Soto sleep in your backyard?
Tallahassee Democrat - Tallahassee,FL,USA
... be an extension of the remarkable Hernando de Soto Spanish Winter Encampment Site that occurred in 1539-1540 — and put Tallahassee on the map in 1987. ...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

DeLuna lands again

Another news story & photos of the 450th landing 'reenactment'

DeLuna lands again
Gulf Breeze News - Gulf Breeze,FL,USA
This time, Don Tristan de Luna stepped onto shore at Pensacola Beach as part of Celebrate Pensacola's commemoration of Pensacola's 450th anniversary. ...

The Death March of De Soto

After years of looking I finally found a copy of "The Death March of De Soto" episode form the Archaeology television series of the early 1990's. The video, actually a combination of "Death March" and a related"Florida's Lost Empire" retitled as Gold, God and Glory was only $0.98 + shipping and even if it was VHS how could I resist. So the tape arrived and dug through the garage to find a working VHS player and got a chance to check it out since I hadn't seen it since its original airing c.1992. I recalled specifically seeing a recreation of the 'Battle of Mabila' sequence and I wanted to check it out.

The credits note Bruce Kuerten and Auburn University television for the De Soto recreation segments, which were all too short. I'm pretty sure this was all stock footage from a couple of films by the aforementioned Mr. Kuerten, Lost in Time and First Frontier, also known as the 'Auburn film' in the Florida reenactment community c.198; well before I got into it. I've tried to get those films via interlibrary loan on a couple of occasions to no avail (per the local reference librarian, due to theft problems old irreplaceable tapes don't tend to get loaned out) not can I find an online version much less a DVD. Perhaps someday I 'll get a chance to review the whole thing.

From what I could see of the all too brief segment, a couple of minutes at best with voice over narration the Mabila set looked pretty impressive, the Native American warriors were reasonable in appearance , the Spaniards looked a little more 1560's than 1540's, i.e. combed morions and high crested burgonets and some later style 16th C. clothing as well. in fact I suspect some of the same armor, weapons, and actors as well -were used on the St. Augustine Dream of Empire/Struggle to Survive project also from the early 1980's. I may at some point try to freeze fram it an play spot the reenactor, I'm pretty sure I spotted, much younger versions of Brian Bowman and Bob Hall.

For someone like me who's been studying the subject since about the time this show was produced in 1992, I didn't really learn anything new. Most of the talking heads on the show have since retired from academia. The skeletal wound shots were fascinating, if morbid and all too brief. At least there wasn't any staged archaeology were the cameras happen to be when the big discovery is made.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

De Luna Landing "reenactment"

In the News:

Claimed for Spain: Event marks 1559 founding of Pensacola

Saturday morning, under ominous skies at Pensacola Beach, Don Tristan de Luna and his three-person crew attempted to row their boat ashore to claim Pensacola for Spain. The costumed re-enactors struggled to maneuver the small vessel, riding low in the water and missing an oar lock, before getting a discreet tow from a nearby motorboat....

Well at least its not this:

Of more interest to readers of this group, I suspect, some video of the archeology of the second De Luna wreck site

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ebay reenactment Commercial

Sunday Funnies:

Sometimes the ebay reenactment commercial from several years ago seems all too familar:

and a look behind the scenes

Friday, August 14, 2009

De Luna statue unveiled

The New Tristan de Luna statue was unveiled in Pensacola Thursday.

A view from the front and the back.

To be honest I'm not too sure about baldric holding the sword or the sword hilt for that matter as being correct for the 1560's, still not too bad a representation.

And here's a very short interview about the Luna expedition with about half of it wasted on morning show 'happy talk'.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Highway Marker Salutes 16th Century Spanish Fort

I just got this press release:

Highway Marker Salutes 16th Century Spanish Fort

RALEIGH – In a place called Xuala, Joara, Cuena, and now Morganton, the 16th century Spanish explorer Capt. Juan Pardo and his men constructed a fort. Garrisoned with 30 soldiers and called Fort San Juan, it was the largest of several fortifications Pardo constructed. Within two years all were destroyed. The memory of Fort San Juan will be honored by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources with a N. C. Highway Historical Marker dedication on Aug. 15, at 11 a.m., at McDowell House on St. Mary’s Church Rd. The marker will stand at Green St. and Bost Rd. in Morganton.

In May 1568, word reached Santa Elena, now Parris Island, Fla., that the forts had been destroyed by American Indians for reasons unknown. Evidence suggests that during the 18 months the Spanish made too many demands on their hosts and may have behaved inappropriately with native women. Today the archaeological site near Morganton continues to produce artifacts that support the theory that the tract was the location of Fort San Juan The 12 acre tract, known as the Berry Site, belongs to the Berry family and has yielded artifacts including Spanish olive jars, pieces of chain mail, pipes, and other articles consistent with long-term occupation. The excavated buildings are appropriate to a 16th century Spanish fort, and more significantly, the buildings were all burned at the same time.

Each summer the public is invited to volunteer at the Berry Site for an archaeological field school. The site has born many names as a result of early European and American Indian contact. By any name it is among premier archaeological site in America.

For additional information about the marker dedication, contact Dr. David Moore at (828) 298-3325. For information about the Highway Marker Program, contact Ansley Wegner at (919) 807-7290.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pensacola 450 in in the News

Celebrating 450 years
Pensacola News Journal
Aug. 15, 1559, landing of Spanish conquistador Don Tristan de Luna on the shores of what is now known as Pensacola Bay. While some of the events to date have ...

The big day is Saturday — 450 years since the Aug. 15, 1559, landing of Spanish conquistador Don Tristan de Luna on the shores of what is now known as Pensacola Bay.

While some of the events to date have been ticketed affairs, Celebrate Pensacola's last shebang is focused on providing free, family fun for residents and visitors of all ages, Lee said.

The kickoff to the big party begins at 5 p.m. Thursday with the unveiling of a bronze statute of a Spanish conquistador at Plaza de Luna. The statue is to serve as the permanent legacy of the 450th anniversary....

....Saturday's festivities begin with an 8:30 a.m. re-enactment of Luna's landing and a Catholic Mass at Fort Pickens gate on Pensacola Beach...."

I note that at Pensacola's Fiesta of Five Flags held in early June (same weekend as of Drake's Raid in St. Augustine) that ..."The DeLuna Landing Ceremony is a light hearted re-enactment of what might have happened when Don Tristan de Luna landed." This is presented by a local Mardi Gras style 'Krewe'. Has anybody heard of a 'serious' reenactment group being involved in next weekend's landing event? With all the great archeology coming out of the Emanuel Point wrecks it would be a shame if the reenactment is absolutely farbulous.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Drake's Raid Video

We're definitely in the summer doldrums right now, and no major events until early September. I missed the annual Drake's Raid in St. Augustine this year for the first time since the early 1990's due to the flu. But I found some video of the event.

This one is of Brad Rivard firing one of his small breech loading versos.
A small Spanish canon, Drakes Raid

Elizabeth Neily (floridafrontiers) has put together and posted a well made Drakes Raid 2009.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Comfortable Conquistador Clothing 2

Again this is from: History of the Indies Bartolome de las Casas. Collard, Andrée M. trans. & ed.
Harper Torch Books, New York, New York 1971

c.1511 Darién (Panama)

"The messenger asked for Vasco Núñez [Balboa]. 'There he is.' someone said. pointing to a man dressed in a cotton blouse over a linen shirt and wearing hemp sandals and coarse breeches [not trousers? ;)], who was looking on and helping his slaves at thatching a house. The man stared, for he could not believe that was the Vasco Núñez, whose exploits and riches were so famous in Castile that he expected to see him seated on a majestic throne."

I just wish that Las Casas would be as specific as to what 'armor' was being worn.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Northern Most Known Bastion of Spanish Florida Marker

Hhere's a nice little site on the Santa Elena/Charlesfort site at Parris Island, South Carolina

Northern Most Known Bastion of Spanish Florida Marker

Both the Fort and the settlement were abandoned in 1587 when the inhabitants were withdrawn to St. Augustine to strengthen its defenses following Sir Francis Drake's raid of the previous year. Erected by Beaufort County Historical ...

DeSoto is car not a Conquistador!

A news item reminds me that "DeSoto" is a car and not a conquistador, though "Soto" is actually proper but as a practical matter "De Soto" is in and will continue to be in common use.

THIS WEEK IN MICHIGAN HISTORY DeSoto is founded in 1928 by Chrysler

Detroit Free Press
The mid-range priced auto was named after the Hernando De Soto -- a 16th-Century Spanish conquistador whose explorations took him to North and South America ...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Three 450th Committees!

The 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine in 1565 is coming up along with the 500th anniversary of discover of Florida in 2015 and 2013 respectively. I noticed that in an editorial in yesterday's the St. Augustine Record that there were three Committees dedicated to this historic commemoration.

The State of Florida and City of St. Augustine official has the, St.Augustine 450th Commemoration Steering Committee and there is also a local 450 Community Corps which has lots of ideas, and finally the Federal government has a St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission in the works.

Given the nature of current funding realities I'm not expecting much in spite of some of the ambitious plans, like building a replica ship, that have been put forth. Like the Jamestown 400th celebration I suspect we'll see a bit of a mash-up of events and projects without a real focused objective, especially since the City hired one of the Jamestown organizers as a consultant. A number of us from Florida had planned to join in the festivities in Virgina, going so far as to travel in 2006 for training at the State's Jamestown Settlement. I found the staff at the Fort to be wonderful. Like most reenactors I've picked up interpretive skills through osmosis rather than any formal training, I found Jamestown's classes eye-opening. But it was also clear that circumstances beyond their control; security concerns, crowd control, construction and simply not being in charge of the overall celebration, we couldn't get a straight answer about exactly what we would be able to do, and quite a bit of what we couldn't not do, less than a few months out from the event and concluded that it wasn't going to worth the expense and effort. I'm not sorry that I went to the training and from what I've heard from those who did attend the 400th Landing Day they had a good time, then again I was spared the horror of Ba-Baaah and the Windigo.

Coming up even sooner than St. Augustine's 450th is Florida's quincentennial. In due course several years ago a law was passed creating a Discovery of Florida Quincentennial Commemoration Act which required a commission to produce "An initial draft of the [master]plan by May 2009... with the completed master plan submitted to such officials by May 2010. needless to say, no funding was apparently ever appropriated nor near as I can tell anyone ever appointed to said commission. In 2008 the Act was repealed. with the suggestion that a CSO, citizen support organization be established to "raise funds as well as assist the commission in other matters as deemed necessary." serve to raise funds as well. The only thing that I've found the State of Florida doing for its Quincentennial thus far is the Viva Florida website. Though I must say that I find it rather ironic that most of the photos is the "multimedia" section are from a De Soto Winter Encampment event several years ago, an annual event that was discontinued last year do to lack of, pretty minimal, funding.

Of course the c.1990's Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission which was generally considered a fiasco.

Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee statement of Richard C. Stiener, Director, Office of Special Investigations, ...

I hope that a more modest success is in the offing for the St. Augustine 450 & Florida 500 anniversaries.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

In the News: De Soto Archaeology & A Burning Ship

A couple of news stories regarding an archaeological dig in northern Tennessee cropped up today. No De Soto artifacts have been found or are likely to for that matter, but it is an an area along Hudson's proposed route and its nice to see the conquistador mentioned.

Nolichucky Conquistadors
Johnson City Press
Conquistadors probably carried the Spanish flag through Northeast Tennessee 400 years ago...

Signs Of Explorer desoto Sought Along Nolichucky
Greeneville Sun
In the summer of 1540, a party of Spanish conquistadors led by Hernando de Soto was exploring what centuries later was to become the ...

In other more spectacular news a replica 17th C. Dutch Ship burned in the Netherlands.

Fire guts replica of 17th-century tall ship
The Associated Press

AMSTERDAM — Fire consumed a replica of the 17th-century flagship of the Dutch East India Company in the northern Netherlands on Thursday...

Check out the photos:

I suppose they would come in handy as reference material to anyone doing a Cortes ship burning or Drake's Fire Ships.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Didn't stay up for Appalachia

Didn't stay up for Appalachia last night. I'll catch it at some other point I'm sure In the news:
Statue of de Luna to be unveiled, dedicated in downtown Pensacola.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Appalachians

I noticed the PBS series The Appalachians a few months ago when "De Soto" and "Charles Hudson" popped up in a couple of news stories. It looks like the series has finally made it to southwest Florida. I'm not expecting much, I recall one review saying that the first episode ran like a filmed Earth Science textbook. Apparently shot on a very low budget, so likely stockfootage conquistadors at best, still I may try to stay up late and check it out.

The Appalachians (WUSF TV : 16.1)
Tuesday, July 28, 2009 12:00 PM
A three-part history of the region begins with the 17th-century immigration of European explorers and traders; the American revolution; and religious revivals in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

One worrisome note, the original series is listed as four parts, and likely they dropped the first episode altogether or recut it without any conquistador stuff.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Luna Papers

After another frustrating research afternoon I bring to your attention Priestly's Luna Papers on Line. Unfortunately, its another PDF scan job, which is better than nothing, for a long out of print book; but oh to have an easy text search.

In any event:

Author: Priestley, Herbert Ingram, 1875-1944.
Publication date: 1928 Collection: Florida Heritage Collection

Author: Priestley, Herbert Ingram, 1875-1944.
Publication date: 1928
Collection: Florida Heritage Collection

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ponce de Leon Clothing Part 2

Okay, so this "trousers" thing is bugging me. It is the 21st centurty, let's try Google Books! I find an online version, in Spanish, of Historia de las Indias By Bartolomé de las Casas c.1875. I try searching unique words and names near the passage in question,"naborías" and "Bobadilla" for example. I find some hits but nothing is matching, even with my limited Spanish skills, something is amiss. I know this section of the book is only a few pages past Book Two in the Collard translation (which is an admittedly abridged version of the original three volume work, but also, as near as I can tell the only published English translation at all!) so I check the table of contents and the mystery is solved, on page one - "Libro Tercio", it is the only the third volume. Further checking reveals that as of this date its also the only volume that Google has scanned and posted. Alas, I'll have to try for interlibrary loan.

Ponce de Leon Era Clothing

I'm currently rereading my copy of History of the Indies looking for items of PdL interest and came across this passage, both describing how a proper Castilian should be dressed and how, in fact they were, on Hispanola in the early 16th C.

“And it was a laughing matter to see the Spaniards’ presumption, vanity and air of authority when they had not even a linen shirt to their names, nor cape, coat or trousers but wore only cotton shirt over another shirt from Castile if they had it; it not, they wore their cotton shirt over bare legs and instead of boots they had sandals and leggings."

p.80 History of the Indies Bartolome de las Casas. Collard, Andrée M. trans. & ed. Harper Torch Books, New York, New York 1971

[trousers?I’d like to read this passage in the original Spanish …I’ve seen criticism of this translator, but it’s the only version I can find-I have a feeling that I may need to find a Spanish copy and try for a literal word for word translation]

Friday, July 24, 2009

De Soto Chronicles On-line

In time for the 450th anniversary of the De Soto expedition most of the known primary source material was translated into English and gathered together into the two volume work entitled The De Soto Chronicles. The National Park Service as an online PDF file available on line:

The De Soto Chronicles:The Expedition of Hernando De Soto to North America 1539-1543

Volume I
Volume II

Which is a wonderful resource excepting that the PDF file consists of scanned pages and is not a readily searchable database. I have though found on-line OCR scans of the major accounts, which will allow one to to find "crossbow" or "axe' for example, easily in the narrative text.

Luys Hernandez de Biedma was the "factor" or Royal official on the expedition. His is the shortest account and can be called the report of Soto's entrada. Here its presented in Spanish and English side by side.


Rodrigo Ranjel was Hernando de Soto's secretary and seems to have kept a diary, though towards the end of the four year long march entries become sparse.


The Gentlemen of Elvas, as the unnamed Portuguese adventuer has become known, wrote an account of the expedition.


The above three accounts are the primary accounts that have survived the centuries. Garcilaso's Florida of the Inca is technically considered a secondary work as Garcilaso was not a member of the expedition and his narrative is based largely on the memories of an aging conquistador he knew in Peru. It is by far the largest (Its Vol. II of the Chronicles - Vol I, is Biedma, Ranjel,Elvas, and other material) and most readable of the relations, however its the most embelished in terms of numbers and least reliable in dates and place names.

Florida of the Inca

Another resource I should mention is the work of Buckingham Smith, a nineteenth century translator who includes in an appendix some of the testimonies (usually as part of a request for a royal pension) of some of the ordinary participants on the expedition. No one seems to have gathered together and published this kind of information as the Flint's have done with the Coronado expedition. Among these testimonies is the only mention of Ana Mendez an eleven year old servant girl who accompanied the expedition,
Narratives of the Career of Hernando de Soto in the Conquest of Florida By Buckingham Smith

starting around page 289 on Google Books. Likewise you can also download a zip file of

Avellaneda's Los Sobrevivientes de la Florida: The Survivors of the De Soto Expedition

where in one finds that Soto's tent began to mildew and rot out within a month of landing in Florida. but it doesn't contain the information in a raw translated form.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

De Soto Takes a Time Out

De Soto Takes a Time Out and other photos from the 2008 landing reenactment at De National Memorial.

Florida Living History

FLH a new Living History/reenactment umbrella group has been assembling over the past year and just put out its first press release to wit:

Florida Living History, Inc.

1960 US Hwy 1 South PMB 193

St. Augustine, FL 32086

877-FLA-HIST (877-352-4478)


Web site:



ST. AUGUSTINE, FL – July 22, 2009 – Florida Living History, Inc. (FLH) is a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created to support living history activities, events, and portrayals related to the history of Florida.

The purpose of FLH is to:

  • foster an understanding of Florida’s history through programs, events, demonstrations, portrayals, media relations, and publications;
  • encourage the study of Florida’s colonial and territorial history from the time of Don Juan Ponce de León’s first landing in 1513 to the time of Florida’s statehood in 1845;
  • develop living history programs that interpret, portray, and demonstrate the Native American, European, Black, and military and civilian aspects of that history;
  • present such programs to students and members of the general public;
  • operate exclusively for educational and charitable purposes.

Formed in January 2009, FLH is dedicated to providing an organizational umbrella for living history groups committed to the historically accurate, research-based interpretation of Florida’s history. FLH will, as a non-profit, provide logistic, administrative, advisory, and insurance-related support for these groups, enabling them to function smoothly and enjoy success and security in their endeavors. FLH is comprised of member groups, such as the Company of Juan Ponce de León, Calderon’s Company, the St. Augustine Garrison, and the St. Augustine Textile Arts Guild, that embrace and support its aims. Its success will be ensured by the long-demonstrated commitment of such member groups to living history and its potential to provide educational enlightenment, entertainment, and an understanding of Florida’s past for the general public.

For more information on Florida Living History, Inc., please contact us at or phone us, toll-free, at 877-FLA-HIST (877-352-4478). You may also visit the Florida Living History, Inc. Web site at .

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Conquistadors in the Carolinas

Thanks to Sheila for bringing this to my attention

This month's Archaeology magazine - - July/Aug 2009 - - includes the article "Spain's Appalachian Outpost" - 'Conquistadors in the Carolinas' by Marion P. Blackburn- - The Spanish story of the Native American town of Joara (the Berry site, NC)-- visited by De Soto, First and Second Pardo expeditions. There is an abstract of Spain's Appalachian Outpost online .

Monday, July 20, 2009


Hernando de Soto is generally credited with introducing pigs into North America. The descendants of these swine are considered a nuisance species throughout the Southeastern United States and regularly hunted.

“…and they took with them a large drove of pigs which had been brought over in the fleet to meet any emergency.”—Ranjel’s account

“The Governor had brought thirteen sows to Florida, which had increased to three hundred swine;”-- Elvas relation

“When they were returning they met with a sow which they had lost in going, and which had brought forth thirteen pigs, all differently marked in the ears. Hence, we may believe that the Indians had divided these animals among themselves, and that they are now reared in Florida.—Garcilaso de La Vega

At the 17th C. Searles event in St. Augustine members of the incredibly cool
Bartholomew Bramble's Schoole of Defence AKA Bramblers who had just completed a period boar hunt. Not only did they help feed the camp with fresh pork but they also greatly entertained all the soldiers, buccaneers and distaff with their tales of the hunt, ‘tripod’ pigs, and weapon wound analysis.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Spot Capt. William

I just came across this picture; can you spot Capt. William of Drake's men?

De Soto Burns Mabila

It looks like my photo of Will during the Hernando de Soto in America shoot was used for some photo-shopping.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Taking Possession

With the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s ‘discovery’ of Florida coming up its likely that we handful of conquistador living history types will find ourselves asked to recreate Ponce’s landing and taking possession of La Florida. The surviving account of the 1513 voyage is pretty brief and the taking of the land even more so.

From the Herrera account- April 2, 1513

“Thinking the land was an island they named it La Florida, because it had a very beautiful view of the many fresh woodlands and it was even and uniform. And because they discovered it in the time of Easter, the Feast of Flowers, Juan Ponce wished to conform in the name with these two reasons. He went ashore to obtain information and take possession.[1]

Not much to go on there I’m afraid. Looking a couple of decades earlier for the first instance of claiming the land for Spain in the New World:

Letter of Columbus San Salvador - Friday, 12th of October 1492

“The Admiral took the royal standard, and the captains went with two banners of the green cross, which the Admiral took in all the ships as a sign with an F and a Y and a crown over each letter, one on one side of the cross and the other on the other. Having landed they saw trees very green, and much water, and fruits of diverse kinds. The Admiral called to the two captains, and to the others who leaped on shore, and to Rodrigo Escovedo, secretary of the whole fleet, and to Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia, and said that they should bear faithful testimony that he, in presence of all, had taken, as he now took, possession of the said island for the King and for the Queen his Lords, making the declarations that are required, as is now largely set forth in the testimonies which were then made in writing.”[2]

And in the Admiral of the Ocean Seas own words:

First Voyage of Columbus- 1492

“And there I found very many islands filled with people innumerable, and of them all I have taken possession for there highnesses, by proclamation made and with the royal standard unfurled, and no opposition was offered to me.”[3]

In particular interest for PdL reenactment is Columbus’ second voyage which according to Las Casas , Ponce was a member of that expedition, although there isn’t any other evidence to that effect, he presumably would have seen how its done.

Second Voyage of Columbus - 1493

“There the admiral, with royal standard in his hands, landed, and many men with him, and there took possession for there highnesses in form of law.”[4]

Looking to some later La Florida expeditions one can fill in a little more detail as to how take possession of a new land.

Panfilo de Narvaez - 1528

“The next day the Governor hoisted flags in behalf of Your Majesty and took possession of the country in Your Royal name, exhibited his credentials, and was acknowledged as Governor according to Your Majesty's commands. We likewise presented our titles to him, and he complied as they required.”[5]

Hernando de Soto -1539

“Tuesday, June 3, the Governor took possession of the country in the name of their Majesties, with all the formalities that are required, and dispatched one of the Indians to persuade and allure the neighbouring chiefs with peace.”[6]

And according to Garcilaso grapes were the motivating factor in claiming La Florida:

“The general received the fruit with pleasure, because they were like the grapes of Spain, and because they had not found any either in Mexico or in Peru, so that, judging from this, of the excellence of the soil of Florida, he commanded three hundred men to go and take possession of it in the name of the emperor.”[7]

Pedro Menendez - 1565

“On Saturday, the 8th, the general landed with many banners spread, to the sound of trumpets and salutes of artillery. As I had gone ashore the evening before, I took a cross and went to meet him, singing the hymn Te Deum laudamus. The general marched up to the cross, followed by all who accompanied him, and there they kneeled and embraced the cross. A large number of Indians watched these proceedings and imitated all they saw done. The same day the general took formal possession of the country in the name of his Majesty, and all the captains took the oath of allegiance to him, as their general and governor of the country. When this ceremony was ended, he offered to do everything in his power for them,..”[8]

[1] Juan Ponce de León, King Ferdinand and the Fountain of Youth. Devereux, Anthony Q. The reprint Company, Publishers, Spartanburg, South Carolina 1993. pp.114-115

[2] Journal
An Electronic Edition

Christopher Columbus 1451-1506 Bartolome de Las Casas c.1490-1558

Original Source: Christopher Columbus, "Journal of the First Voyage of Columbus," in Julius E. Olson and Edward Gaylord Bourne, eds., The Northmen, Columbus and Cabot, 985-1503, Original Narratives of Early American History. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1906. P.50

[3] The Four Voyages of Columbus: A History in Eight Documents, Including Five by Christopher Columbus, in the Original Spanish, with English Translations

Jane, Cecil trans. & ed. Dover, Mineola, New York 1988 p.3

[4] Jane, p.24

[5] The Journey of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza De Vaca(1542) Translated by Fanny Bandelier (1905)


[7] Florida of the Inca
An Electronic Edition

Garcilaso de la Vega, el Inca 1539-1616

Original Source: Garcilaso Inca de la Vega, "History of the Conquest of Florida." In The History of Hernando de Soto and Florida; or, Record of the Events of fifty-six years, from 1512 to 1568. E. Barnard Shipp. Philadelphia: Robert M. Lindsay, 828 Walnut Street, 1881

[8] Founding of St. Augustine
An Electronic Edition

Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales 16th Century

Original Source: "The Founding of St. Augustine." In Old South Leaflets Volume IV. Boston: Directors of the Old South work. Old South Meeting House.