Welcome to Florida stories!
Watch a story in our collection of entertaining video shorts that explore the lives of forgotten people, places, and events in Florida’s Colonial period. Each video tells a unique tale, offering viewers rich visual interpretations of the events and the people who shaped Florida’s colonial past. Check back soon to see new additions to the video library.
Miguel Mora: Conquest and Captivity in Spanish Florida
In 1605, an anonymous mapmaker drafted a rather crude map of the Florida peninsula, on which a name appears near present-day Biscayne Bay. The name reads Miguel Mora. Until recently, little was known of Miguel Mora or why the mapmaker referred to that region by his name. This video explores the life of a forgotten Spanish conquistador, a young man from Cadiz who joined Pedro Menéndez de Avilés’s 1565 expedition to Florida. Miguel Mora was a central protagonist in many of the dramatic events that unfolded after the Menéndez fleet reached Florida: Mora was one of several hundred Spaniards who participated in the military assault on the French Fort Caroline, and the subsequent capture and execution of French captives.
But less than a year after his arrival in Florida, Mora and several of his companions wrecked off the coast of southeast Florida. Mora survived, but he and several others were taken captive by the Tequesta Indians. Mora spent ten months in captivity. Follow the story of a forgotten figure in Florida’s early colonial history, a conquistador whose name was later used to identify the region where he had been taken captive.
Doña Catalina Barbón: A Widow’s Story
In the early months of 1577, a pregnant, distressed, and impoverished Spanish noblewoman arrived in Mexico City with her two young children. Follow the remarkable story of Doña Catalina Barbón, who arrived in La Florida in the early 1570s, settling in Spain’s northernmost settlement of Santa Elena (present-day Parris Island, South Carolina). There, she married one of the settlement’s principal leaders, Captain Alonso de Solís.
In June, 1576, Captain Solís and several others were killed by local Natives, who then launched an assault on the Spanish settlement. With Santa Elena under siege, its residents, including doña Catalina and her two young children, abandoned the settlement. Eight months later, she and her children arrived in Mexico City. With few contacts and no source of income, doña Catalina turned to the officials of Mexico’s High Court, to whom she submitted a lengthy petition detailing the circumstances that had forced her to abandon Florida.
Luisa de Abrego: Marriage, Bigamy, and the Spanish Inquisition
This video chronicles the story of Luisa de Abrego, a free black domestic servant from Seville. In 1565, Abrego secretly boarded a Spanish vessel bound for Florida, where she was one of roughly eight hundred settlers who established the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine. Within months of her arrival, Abrego married a Segovian soldier by the name of Miguel Rodriguez. To date, their marriage is the first known and recorded Christian marriage anywhere in the continental United States, an interracial union between a free black woman and a Spanish conquistador.
Less than a decade later, Luisa appeared at the Holy Office of the Spanish Inquisition in Mexico, where she confessed to having two husbands. Based on evidence from the Inquisition’s investigation, the video chronicles Luisa’s fascinating story, as Inquisition judges struggle to determine the fate of her marriage to Miguel Rodriguez.