Pedro Menendez de Aviles Captain Pedro Menendez de Aviles (Feb. 15, 1519-Sept. 17, 1574) was a brutal Spanish sailor, soldier, explorer, and conquistador. King Philip II of Spain sent de Aviles to Florida to kill the French Huguenots who had settled there; the Spanish wanted the New World for themselves. De Aviles sailed from Spain in July 1565 with 11 ships and about 2,000 soldiers. They landed in Florida on August 28, 1565, at the Bay of St. Augustine and established a settlement at St. Augustine (the oldest continually-inhabited city in the United States), in what is now northeastern Florida, USA. On September 20, 1565, Aviles and his soldiers attacked the nearby French colony called Fort Caroline, murdering everyone (men, women and children), hanging some of the butchered bodies from trees. De Aviles also explored the coastline of North America as far north as St. Helena Island, South Carolina, and had forts built along the coast for protection. Aviles returned to Spain in 1567, and later died while fighting the British in a naval battle at Santander, Spain.