Monday, April 16, 2012

The Huguenots of Northeast Florida

"On May 1, 2012, Jacksonville will commemorate the 450th anniversary of French Huguenot Captain Jean Ribault’s arrival and the beginning of French history in Florida. On May 1, 1562, Ribault sailed into what we now call the St. Johns River, and named it The River of May. He met with the indigenous, Mocama-speaking Timucua Indians on the North side of the river and claimed the beautiful land for France by placing a stone onto the ground in her honor. The next French exploration occurred in 1564, Fort Caroline ("la Caroline") was built, and the “First Thanksgiving” took place on June 30 of the same year." (Commemorate 450 website)  "French Protestants were inspired by the writings of John Calvin in the 1530s, and they were called Huguenots by the 1560s. By the end of the 17th century, roughly 200,000 Huguenots had been driven from France during a series of religious persecutions. They relocated to Protestant nations in Europe, and also to the Dutch Cape Colony in present-day South Africa and the English 13 colonies of North America. Jean Ribault (1520-1565) was a French naval officer, navigator, and a colonizer of what would become the southeastern United States. He was a major figure in the French attempts to colonize Florida. Under Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, Ribault led an expedition to the New World in 1562 that founded the outpost of Charlesfort on Parris Island in present-day South Carolina. Two years later, he took over command of the French colony of Fort Caroline in what is now Jacksonville, FL. He and many of his followers were killed by Spanish soldiers near St. Augustine in 1565." (Wikipedia)