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The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Fifth Edition
Paul Lauter, General Editor

René Goulaine de Laudonnière
(fl. 1562-1582)
The Huguenots, French Protestants, conducted a protracted religious war against the Catholic crown between 1562 and 1598. They were permitted by authorities, however, to participate in colonial ventures, especially where such ventures would disrupt the Spanish colonies. After failing in Brazil, the Huguenots turned to the northern Atlantic coast, claimed by the Spanish. From there they could attack the Spanish Silver Fleets. Jean Ribault’s Port Royal, South Carolina, failed in 1562, but René Guilaine de Laudonnière’s Fort Caroline colony near the mouth of the St. John’s River in Florida proved more promising in 1564. France and Spain were at peace in Europe, but the French crown turned a blind eye to Huguenot attacks and violations of international agreements, since the potential profits were enormous. The king of Spain, however, ordered the colony eliminated by the permanent Spanish colonization of Florida, a name which covered from New Mexico on the west to Newfoundland in the north. Menéndez de Avilés enacted Philip II’s policy with deadly skill.

Like the Spanish writers, the French chroniclers functioned as early anthropologists, documenting Native American customs. Yet, as this text demonstrates, they often could not fathom entirely the meaning of what they were witnessing. This brutal event may be understood better as a sacred ritual in a culture that had not replaced the human victim with a symbolic substitute.

Juan Bruce-Novoa
University of California at Irvine

In the Heath Anthology
from A Notable Historie Containing Foure Voyages Made by Certaine French Captaines unto Florida (1587)

Other Works

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Brief bio of de Laudonnier.

Welcome to the First Coast
The page includes historical information on Avilés founding of St. Augustine and the French colonization in 16th century.

Secondary Sources

Henry Folmer, Franco-Spanish Rivalry in North America, 1524-1763, 1953

Woodbury Lowery, The Spanish Settlements Within the Present Limits of the United States, v.2, 1959