Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded and colonized the city of St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the continental United States. Considering who his father was, it was little wonder that he was drawn to a life of adventure and service to the Spanish king. Pedro's father had helped defeat the last of the Moors in 1492. Serving the Spanish monarchy was an honored tradition in the family. Pedro soon made a name for himself because of his brave deeds at sea. Sometimes, he was little better than a pirate himself, but he was well known for his daring and his bravery. Most historians believe that it was Ponce de Léon who claimed Florida for Spain in 1513. But by 1562, France began to challenge Spain's claim to the area. This angered the Spanish king. So in 1565, King Philip sent Menéndez back to Florida to get rid of the French and establish Spain's stronghold in the area. His brother-in-law was the official recorder of the expedition and we are able to reconstruct his exploration of the American Southeast (back then, La Florida encompassed most of the southeastern part of the U.S.). Though he was ruthless and merciless in the name of the Spanish crown, he established a colony in Florida that nearly 450 years later still reflects its rich Spanish history.