On May 28 and 29, 1586, Sir Francis Drake orchestrated an attack on St. Augustine. Drake was ordered by Queen Elizabeth I to sail across the Atlantic with 25 ships and raid Spanish strongholds in the Caribbean and South America. Before St. Augustine, Drake and his fleet made stops in Colombia and the Dominican Republic. As he sailed up the coast of Florida, he spotted a Spanish watchtower. St Augustine had only been settled for about 20 years, so they didn’t have the fortification of the coquina Castillo yet. That made it relatively easy for Drake and his ships to raid the city and burn much of it.
After the attack, Italian cartographer Baptista Boazio was commissioned to create an illustrated map showing Drake’s successes in the New World. It was completed in 1589, and is the earliest known map of St. Augustine. It’s also the oldest document in the Archives of Florida! During the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board’s operating years, they collected maps and other historical documents from libraries and archives around the world. Their black and white copy of Boazio’s map lives in our map collection here at Governor’s House. Happy Memorial Day!