Menéndez made his career as a sailor in the service of the Spanish king, Philip II of Spain. His first plans for a voyage to Florida revolved around searching for his son, Juan, who had been shipwrecked there in 1561. However, following the founding of Fort Caroline in present-day Jacksonville by French Huguenots under René Goulaine de Laudonnière, he was commissioned to conquer the peninsula as Adelantado. He established St. Augustine in 1565, and later took over Fort Caroline and displaced the French. Firmly established as governor, Menéndez turned his focus to exploring the area and establishing further fortifications. He returned to Spain in 1567 and was also appointed governor of Cuba. He made one last voyage to Florida in 1572, and died at Santander, Spain, in 1574.