There is no accurate measure of the number of shipwrecks along the South Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, but the number must be in the hundreds or even over a thousand. Also not known is how many shipwrecked sailors and passengers survived in North America during the 1500′s and 1600′s, or how many Sephardic Jews, Muslim Moors and European Protestants, escaping the Spanish Inquisition, landed on the shores of the present day Southeastern United States. Surviving archives, however, do furnish credible evidence of these peoples settling in the interior of the Southeast, while officially England was only colonizing the coastal regions.
Most history books and online encyclopedia sources state unequivocally that Fort Caroline was built on the St. Johns River in present day Jacksonville. They state that the May River named by de Laudonniére, was the same as the San Juan (St. Johns) River named by the Spanish. Virtually none of the articles tell you that
An incredible series of “things gone bad” turned the 16th century colonization efforts of the French government into a tragic disaster. French efforts were far better planned than their Spanish or English counterparts in the 16th century. At the start, France seem destined to be the dominant power in North America. If any one of
Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés simultaneously built fortifications in Saint Augustine Bay and at La Florida’s planned capital of St. Elena on Parris Island, SC. Next he repaired and strengthened Fort Caroline, renaming it Fort San Mateo. Efforts were made by the Spanish in 1566 to bribe Indian tribes within the interior of Florida to
Survivors of Jean Ribault’s fleet staggered onto the beach south of St. Augustine with nothing but their torn clothes. Eventually, the castaways clustered into two groups. One, numbering about a hundred were under the command of Ribault. A smaller group came together on a beach farther south. Neither group had food or water. Apparently, none
One September 2, 1565, just after Ribault had sailed in three of his small ships to Fort Caroline, six large Spanish ships appeared at the entrance to the May River. It was the force commanded by Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés that the king of Spain had ordered to drive out the heretic French colonists.
On August 28, 1565 the two ships at Fort Caroline’s dock prepared to hoist anchors and sail for France. Then sails were seen on the horizon. It was Jean Ribault’s large fleet of at least seven ships, carrying 800 colonists. Ribault had finally returned to France from England in June of 1565. While in England
French combat teams went on expeditions several times to rival provinces, but only a few are specifically described by de Laudonniére. The relationships of the French with Native provinces upstream on the May River worsened when they became hungry. The French then resorted to kidnappings of a king. The leader was held hostage until food
To understand why Captain René de Laudonniére would be drawn to either the Satilla, St. Marys or Altamaha Rivers as the location of France’s first permanent colony in North America, one has to first look at the “ground level” geography, i.e. what the officers would have seen from a mile or so out to sea.
A very important historical fact should be considered with evaluating alternative locations for Fort Caroline. The cities of Darien, Brunswick and St. Marys on the Georgia coast were booming ports for many decades before Jacksonville, FL even existed. Their harbors were naturally deep enough to handle sea going vessels. At that time the St. Johns