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A Storm Kept the French from Capturing Florida
With a bit of luck, or more precisely a bit o ...show moref better weather, the French instead of the Spanish might have ended up with Florida.
In 1562 the French government selected Captain Jean Ribault to establish a colony in Florida. These French were Huguenots, or Protestants. Ribault arrived at the mouth of the St. Johns River, near the present-day city of Jacksonville. Then he sailed north to South Carolina where he established a colony.
He returned to France, telling the colonists he left behind that he would return shortly. But when he arrived in France, he found the country in the midst of a religious war so he fled to England.
While Ribault was in England he wrote a book about his exploits, The Whole and True Discovery of Terra Florida. His deputy, Rene Laudonniere, returned to Florida and established Fort Caroline at the mouth of the St. Johns. In 1565 Ribault returned with seven ships to reinforce Laudonniere.
The Spanish first came to Florida in 1513 and tried several times to establish colonies. But the colonies failed, and the Spanish lost interest until the French arrived. The king of Spain knew that if the French took control of Florida, they would threaten other Spanish holdings.
The sea route used by the Spanish to carry gold and silver from Central and South American passed by the coast of Florida. The Catholic Spanish also considered the Protestant French to be heretics. In 1565 the Spanish sent Pedro Menendez de Aviles to establish a colony at St. Augustine and battle the French.
He attacked the French at Fort Caroline, but was driven back. The French then mounted an attack on St.Augustine. A violent storm scattered Ribault's ships and Menendez was able to attack an unprotected Fort Caroline. Menendez captured Ribault and executed him at what became known as Matanzas Inlet, which means "place of slaughter." The Spanish retained control of Florida.