Group Title: Laudonnière & Fort Caroline; history and documents
Title: Laudonnière & Fort Caroline
Full Citation
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 Material Information
Title: Laudonnière & Fort Caroline history and documents
Alternate Title: Laudonnière and Fort Caroline history and documents
Physical Description: xv, 191 p. : illus., maps, ports. ; 24 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Bennett, Charles E., 1910-
Publisher: University of Florida Press
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Publication Date: 1964
Subject: History -- Florida -- Huguenot colony, 1562-1565   ( lcsh )
Genre: individual biography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Funding: Funded by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00025123
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: Board of Trustees of the University of Florida on behalf of authors and contributors. All rights reserved.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000772499
oclc - 00684969
notis - ADW6041
lccn - 64019825


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Originally published in:
Bennet, Charles E. Leudonniere & Fort Caroline : History and Documents.
Tuscaloosa, AL : University of Alabama Press, c2001. Pp.65-70.



A VERY HUMAN LETTER was written by a young Frenchman at
Fort Caroline in 1564. At that time the French settlers were opti-
mistic about the future of their colony. The writer tells of the voy-
age to Florida, describes the new country, and the beginnings of the
settlement. The letter was originally published as a pamphlet in
Paris in 1565, but is most readily available today in Henri Ternaux-
Compans (ed.), Voyages, relations et memoires originaux pour
servir a l'histoire de l'Amerique (Paris, 1841), pp. 233-45; en-
titled, "Coppie d'une lettre venant de la Floride, enuoyee a Rouen,
et depuis au Seigneur D'Eueron; ensemble le plan et portraict du
fort que les Francois y ont faict."


My very honored father: I arrived in this land of New France,
prosperous and in good health (thank God), which I pray may also
be true of you. I must not fail to take pen in hand and run it over
the paper in order to give you a small description of the Isle of
Florida, called New France, and of the type and customs of the
Natives which you will please accept in good grace. But I ask you
humbly to excuse me if I do not write more fully, as I would wish,
for the reason is that we work every day on our fort which is now
defending us.
We left Havre on April 22, under the command of Mr. Reni
de Laudonniere, the gentleman from Poictevin, who is in charge of
three warships. The one navigated by him is called "Isabel of Hon-
fleur," whose captain was Jean Lucas, acting as admiral. The other
ship, that the vice-admiral, Captain Vasseur of Dieppe, navigated,
was called the "Little Breton," on which I embarked and made my
voyage. The third ship was named the "Falcon" and was navigated
by Captain Pierre Marchant. All these (with the aid of our good
God who was with us) navigated together every day for a long time,
not being more than three leagues apart, so that we can say (giving
thanks to the Lord) that we had one of the most fortunate sea voy-

Originally published in:
Bennet, Charles E. Leudonniere & Fort Caroline : History and Documents.
Tuscaloosa, AL : University of Alabama Press, c2001. Pp.65-70.


ages, owing to the great blessings bestowed by the Lord on us poor
sinners; and we traveled successfully without running into any
obstacle, except that, while sailing along the coast of England, we
encountered about eighteen or twenty vessels which we thought to
be English, which were waiting for a chance to capture us but soon
discovered that we were ready, in battle position, to take them on,
because we had been told prior to our departure that there would
be some English ships lying in wait for us in order to capture us.
When those vessels discovered us and saw all our ensigns deployed
and our maintop in combat-readiness, we saw the admiral and the
vice-admiral of those vessels, lining up the other vessels in forma-
tion; and then they came directly at us and we at them, and then
we noticed that they were Flanders ships. We talked to them and
they said that they were going to Brussels to load salt, and why
wouldn't we let them go.
We continued on our course until June 22, when we came into
view of New France, formerly called Florida, where we smelled the
odoriferous aroma of many good things because of the wind which
was coming from the land. Seeing the very flat land, without a single
mountain, and in a very straight line along the sea and full of
beautiful trees and woods along the seashore, I leave it to you to
imagine the happiness we felt.
To the south we saw a beautiful river which prompted Mr. de
Laudonniere to disembark and reconnoiter. We went, in fact, ac-
companied by only a dozen soldiers, and as soon as they set foot on
land, three chiefs, together with more than four hundred Natives,
came to greet Mr. de Laudonniere in their own way by flattering
him as though paying tribute to an idol. Thereafter, the chiefs led
him a short distance away (about an arrow's shot away) to where
there was a beautiful bower of laurel, and there they sat down to-
gether and made signs expressing to Mr. de Laudonniere how happy
they were that we had come, and also making signs (to Mr. de Lau-
donniere and the Sun) saying that he was the brother of the Sun
and that he should go to war with them against their enemies whom
they called TYMANGOUA. By making signs to us, by nodding their
heads three times, they said that it was only a three-days journey.
Mr. de Laudonniere promised them to go with them, and they each
bowed and thanked each other, according to their status.
Shortly thereafter Mr. de Laudonniere wanted to go up the
river once more and, looking upon a low sand dune, recognized a

Originally published in:
Bennet, Charles E. Leudonniere & Fort Caroline : History and Documents.
Tuscaloosa, AL : University of Alabama Press, c2001. Pp.65-70.


boundary marker of white stone into which the King's coat-of-arms
was engraved, and which had been put up by Captain Jean Ribault,
of Dieppe, on the first voyage which he had made. Mr. de Lau-
donniere was pleased and knew he was on the River May, the name
which was given to it by Jean Ribault on his arrival, which was the
first of May. And we stayed with the marker for half an hour and
the Natives brought juice of the laurel and their excellent potions
and, embracing the marker, all were chanting TYMANGOUA, as
though wanting to say by so doing that they were going to be
victorious over their enemies, whom they called TYMANGOUA,
and that the Sun god had sent Mr. de Laudonniere, his brother, to
avenge them. After giving them some presents Mr. de Laudonniere
ordered the return aboard ship, leaving those poor people wailing
and weeping about our departure. One of them even forced his way
aboard and had gone to sleep there but was returned to land on
Then, after weighing anchor and skirting the coast until Sun-
day, we discovered a lovely river to which Mr. de Laudonniere sent
Captain Vasseur, accompanied by ten soldiers of whom I was one.
As soon as we were on land we found another chief with three of
his sons and over two hundred Natives, their women and their little
children. The chief was very ancient, and made signs to us saying
that he had seen five generations, i.e., the children of his children,
up to the fifth generation. After he had made us sit down under the
laurel tree which was next to him, he made the sign for TYMAN-
GOUA to us, just as the others. But as to the rest, they are the big-
gest thieves in the world because they can steal with their feet as
well as with their hands, notwithstanding the fact that they are
naked except for an animal skin covering their private parts. They
are painted in black all over, in beautiful designs, and the women
have some long strands of white moss wrapped around them cover-
ing their breasts and their private parts. They are very obedient to
their husbands, not as thieving as they are, but they covet rings and
chokers around their necks.
One day, after the river had been sounded, it was found deep
enough for letting the ships enter, but not as deep as the River May
so that Mr. de Laudonniere returned aboard ship and counseled
with Captain Vasseur about returning to the River May. The fol-
lowing Tuesday we weighed anchor in order to go back there and
arrived the following Friday, and immediately went ashore and

Originally published in:
Bennet, Charles E. Leudonniere & Fort Caroline : History and Documents.
Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, c2001. Pp.65-70.


were respectfully received by the Natives, like the first time, and
were led to the same place where we are now building our fort,
which is called Fort Caroline, and which was given that name be-
cause the King's name is Charles. You can see a picture of it below.
The fort is in the said River May, about six leagues up the
river from the sea, which we will shortly have so well fortified as to
have it defense-worthy, with very good conveniences and the water
coming into the moat of the fort.
We even found a certain cinchona tree, which has dietary
value, which is its least virtue; for the juice proceeding from it has
such virtue that, when a thin man or woman drinks it regularly for
some time, he or she would become very fat and stout; and it has
also other good medicinal properties. We have learned from the
doctors that it sells very well in France and that it is well liked.
Mr. de Laudonniere forbade our soldiers to send it aboard
these ships, and only he would and did send some as a gift to the
King and to the other Princes of France and to the Admiral, to-
gether with the gold which we had found there; but he gave permis-
sion to put in a supply for the first ships which would go back
home so that, with the aid of the Lord, there will be a good supply
of it, being sure that it will be much appreciated here and there.
Mr. de Laudonniere wants, if there is a profit, that his soldiers
should share in it.
We also found a certain kind of cinnamon, but not the best
kind-somewhat too red-and also some rhubarb, though very lit-
tle. However, we have hopes that in time we will be able to have
the conveniences which might be had there.
Twenty-five leagues from our fort is a river which is called the
Jordan and in which there are excellent martens, where we hope to
go, with the aid of the Lord, within about six weeks. Furthermore,
there are some very beautiful blood-red cedar trees, and the woods
are filled with them, almost to the exclusion of anything else; and
also there is an abundance of pine trees, and another kind of tim-
ber which is yellow; and even the woods are so full of vines that
you can hardly take two steps forward without finding an abun-
dance of grapes which are beginning to turn blue so that we hope
to make plenty of wine, which will be just fine.
Mr. de Laudonniere decided fifteen days after the arming of
the fort to send two barges to TYMANGOUA and they actually
went there on the 15th of this month. [The party was] conducted

Originally published in:
Bennet, Charles E. Leudonniere & Fort Caroline : History and Documents.
Tuscaloosa, AL : University of Alabama Press, c2001. Pp.65-70.

Coppie d'une lettre venant de la Floride
(Paris, Norment et Bruneau, 1165). (John Carter Brown Library, Providence, R. I.)
Plan of Fort Caroline, drawn by a settler in 1564, believed to be the first
print of any structure erected in the New World by Europeans, and perhaps the
first picture drawn in America by a European.

Originally published in:
Bennet, Charles E. Leudonniere & Fort Caroline : History and Documents.
Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, c2001. Pp.65-70.


by Mr. d'Antigny and Captain Vasseur and remained there until
the 18th in uncertainty, and upon their return brought very good
news saying that they had discovered a gold and silver mine at a
place about sixty leagues from our fort, via our River May. When
the party arrived there they traded with the Natives who were very
scared and always kept on their guard because of their neighbors
who were always waging war against them, as they afterwards dem-
onstrated to Mr. d'Antigny and Captain Vasseur.
Upon their arrival they left their barges at the water's edge
where Mr. d'Antigny ordered some wares left and the barges with-
drawn, whereafter the Natives, approaching from their boats where
they found the wares, began to reassure themselves making signs as
they approached and crying out "AMY THYPOLA PASSON,"
which means Brother and Friend like the fingers of one hand.
When Mr. d'Antigny and Captain Vasseur saw this, they ap-
proached and, having been accorded a ceremonious welcome, were
led to their village and treated according to their customs, which is,
to serve honey and water boiled together with a certain herb which
they use and which is very good, And if it please the Lord to let us
live another two years, we hope, with the aid which the King will
see fit to send, to keep that mine for him.
In the meantime, I hope to learn to understand the customs of
these Natives who are very good people, making trade with them
very easy, showing by signs that they will trade for gold and silver
as much as one would trade to them in hatchets, knives, bush-
hooks, or jewelry of small value.
I did not want to forget to write you that yesterday, Friday,
we captured a big crocodile, like a lizard but with arms like a hu-
man being with joints, and with five fingers on the front paws and
four on the back paws, whose skin was sent to France aboard the
ships going, back home. In that river you see only crocodiles and if
one throws in a line in order to fish one catches the most terrible
fish one has ever seen.

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