Spain and France in Florida

In 1513 the Spaniards reached Florida; Louis C. Kleber describes how fifty years later the French followed them.

‘And believing that this land was an island, they named it “La Florida”, because it has a very beautiful view of many cool woodlands, and it was level and uniform, and because, moreover, they discovered it in the time of the Feast of Flowers.’ With these words the Royal Historiographer of Spain, Antonio de Herrera, described the moment when Juan Ponce de Leon gazed upon Florida’s shores. The date was April 1513.

Ponce de Leon had accompanied Columbus on the voyage of 1493 when Puerto Rican Indians excited his imagination with information of a wonderful land to the north-west, rich in gold and possessing a fountain with the magical power to restore youth. Ponce de Leon could not forget these stories and his enthusiasm finally brought him a grant from Charles V of Spain to explore the area. At the time of discovery, little consideration was given to the possibility that Florida might not be another island in the Caribbean region.

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