Spanish Florida

Spanish Florida

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Spanish Florida

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Spanish Florida () refers to the Spanish territory of Florida, which formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire. Originally extending over what is now the southeastern United States, but with no defined boundaries, la Florida was a component of the Spanish colonization of the Americas and the expansion of the Spanish Empire. Wide-ranging expeditions were mounted into the hinterland during the 16th century, but Spain never exercised complete control over la Florida outside an area of what is now the State of Florida, southern Georgia, southern Alabama, southeastern Louisiana, and other areas along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Discovery and early exploration

In 1512 Juan Ponce de León, former governor of Puerto Rico, received royal permission to search for land north of Cuba. He equipped three ships at his own expense and sailed from Puerto Rico in 1513. In late March he spotted an island (almost certainly one of the Bahamas) but did not stop. Early in April Ponce de León reached the northeast coast of the Florida peninsula, which he assumed was a large island. He claimed the 'island' for Spain and named it la Florida, either because it was the season of Pascua Florida ("Flowery Festival", i.e., Easter) or because much of the vegetation was in bloom. He then explored south along the coast, around the Florida Keys and north on the west coast of the peninsula, before returning to Puerto...
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