USF St. Petersburg campus Master's Theses (Graduate)

First Advisor

Major Professor: Dr. J. Michael Francis, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Thomas Hallock, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Erica Heinsen-Roach, Ph.D.


University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued

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.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Liberal Arts Department of Florida Studies College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida St. Petersburg

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