1715 Silver Fleet Wreck Off Brevard Coast During Hurricane Shook Royal Courts of Europe

By  //  June 9, 2020

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survivors were stranded On Brevard beaches

Early on the morning of July 31, 1715, an event took place along Florida’s east-central coast that shook the royal courts of Europe. At approximately 4 a.m., a powerful hurricane struck Spain’s plate (from “plata,” the Spanish word for “silver”) fleet and wrecked it on Florida’s “coast of the Ays,” between present-day Melbourne Beach and Vero Beach.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Early on the morning of July 31, 1715, an event took place along Brevard County’s coast that shook the royal courts of Europe.

At approximately 4 a.m., a powerful hurricane struck Spain’s plate (from “plata,” the Spanish word for “silver”) fleet and wrecked it on Florida’s “coast of the Ays,” between present-day Melbourne Beach and Vero Beach.

Eleven vessels, an estimated 15 million silver pesos in treasure – along with the cargo of gold, jewels, spices,
tobacco, porcelain, etc. – and more than 1,000 lives were lost in the disaster, which left some 1,500 survivors
stranded along the Florida coast south of Cape Canaveral.

The 1715 Treasure Fleet was returning from the New World to Spain. Seven days after departing from Havana, Cuba, under the command of Juan Esteban de Ubilla, 11 of the 12 ships of this fleet were lost in the hurricane.

Because the fleet was carrying silver, it is also known as the 1715 Plate Fleet. Some artifacts and even coins still wash up on Brevard area beaches from time to time, especially after hurricanes.

The 1715 loss of Spain’s annual plate fleet off Florida’s Space Coast triggered economic chaos and collapse across Europe and its New World empires.

Rare 8 Escudos Lima dated 1710 recovered from the 1715 Fleet. (Photo by Augi Garcia)
8 reales, Mexico City Mint; Recovered from the 1715 Plate Fleet wrecks. (Photo by Augi Garcia)
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