While the 16th Century would become the era of the Reformation, Europe would also witness the rise of the mighty empire of Spain that would encircle the globe, conquer ancient civilizations, and brook no successful challengers to its professional, arrogant, and rapacious armies. The explorers launched out into the oceans, closely followed by the conquistadors and the missionary priests of the Roman Catholic Church, baptizing the conquered peoples and leaving a cultural influence that continues to thrive in South America, Central America, and the American southwest.
The legacy of Spanish conquest still lies embedded in the oldest continuously inhabited place in the continental United States, St. Augustine. Founded on “St. Augustine’s Day” in the liturgical calendar, a great fortress known as Castillo de San Marcos (The Castle of St. Mark) arose, to tower over the settlement both as a protection for the Spaniards defending the frontiers, as well as a potential launching pad for the further conquest of North America.