Santa Elena

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Santa Elena

Santa Elena, city in Spanish colonial Florida, founded in 1566 by Pedro Menéndez De Avilés on Parris Island in present-day South Carolina. Its garrison manned three successive forts. In 1569, 193 settlers came to Santa Elena, bringing with them many of the trades, crafts, and professions of Spain. Secondary to Saint Augustine until 1571, Santa Elena became the capital of Florida in that year when Menéndez moved his wife and household there. Menéndez hoped to establish his royal land grant in the upland piedmont, at Guatari, near present-day Charlotte, North Carolina. He imported many rich household goods, and began the fur trade with the Native Americans. Other economic enterprises included the raising of corn and hogs, the export of sassafras root and lumber, and the building of two small ships. Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries came to Santa Elena but failed to make many converts among the Native Americans. After Menéndez's death at Santander, Spain, in 1574, relations with the Indians deteriorated, and a confederation of neighboring Caciques forced the Spaniards to evacuate Santa Elena in 1576. The city was rebuilt the following year and was finally abandoned in 1587.

See alsoMenéndez de Avilés, Pedro .


Eugene Lyon, Santa Elena: A Brief History of the Colony, 1566–1587 (1984).

Stanley South, Russell K. Skowronek, and Richard E. Johnson, with contributions by Eugene Lyon, Richard Polhemus, William Radisch, and Carl Steen, Spanish Artifacts from Santa Elena (1988).

Additional Bibliography

Gallegos, Eloy J. Santa Elena: Spanish Settlements on the Atlantic Seaboard from Florida to Virginia, 1513 to 1607. Knoxville, TN: Villagra Press, 1998.

                                          Eugene Lyon

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Santa Elena

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