Major Professor: Dr. J. Michael Francis, Ph.D.
Thomas Hallock, Ph.D.
Erica Heinsen-Roach, Ph.D.
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
July 15, 2016
The year 1576 was tumultuous for the settlement of Santa Elena. Ten years had passed since the town’s founding, and not all of its residents were content with the colony’s state of affairs. In the fall of 1576, the Crown’s appointed investigator, Baltasar del Castillo y Ahedo, began a lengthy investigation of the tenures of Santa Elena’s royal officials. The timing and significance of these reviews was crucial as they were performed shortly after Santa Elena’s temporary abandonment in June of 1576. Castillo, a former accountant in Pedro Menéndez de Avilés’s royal armada, revealed how Santa Elena’s officials systematically abused Florida’s royal subsidy for personal gain. Florida was a region notorious for financial ruin yet it still held immense symbolic importance. After fifty years of failed colonization attempts, the Crown relied on the private entrepreneurship of Pedro Menéndez and his comuño, or kinship network, to colonize Florida. Castillo’s investigation, however, reveals that despite lucrative incentives, private entrepreneurship did not work to expand Spain’s empire into North America. Instead, royal officials remained on the coast where they could safely profit from guaranteed royal subsidies.
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Godfry, Katherine, "Elusive Truths: Baltasar del Castillo, Royal Subsidies, and the 1576 Residencia of Florida" (2016). USF St. Petersburg campus Master's Theses (Graduate).