The Luna Expedition: An Overview from the Documents

Author(s): John Worth

Year: 2017


The 1559-1561 expedition of Tristán de Luna was the largest and most well-financed Spanish attempt to colonize southeastern North America up to that time. Had it succeeded, New Spain would have expanded to include a settled terrestrial route from the northern Gulf of Mexico to the lower Atlantic coast.  While a hurricane left most of the fleet and the colony’s food stores on the bottom of Pensacola Bay just five weeks after arrival, the colonists nonetheless struggled to survive over the next two years, supported by multiple maritime relief expeditions as well as a temporary relocation into central Alabama and the dispatch of a military detachment as far north as the Appalachian foothills.  Though Luna’s Pensacola Bay settlement was ultimately abandoned, the documentary record of the expedition details both its maritime and terrestrial dimensions, and provides an important window into the mid-16th-century Spanish colonial world.

Cite this Record

The Luna Expedition: An Overview from the Documents. John Worth. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435664)


Temporal Keywords
Spanish colonial

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 468