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Sunday, February 8, 2015

a really NOT GOOD guy...

so last week in my Maritime History class we had to listen to the rather uncomfortable story of the first settlements established here in Florida... I will try to not make this as long and involved as the class - but it has its innate complexities and may need a bit of explanation along the way-

When Charles I (C1) took over from his grandfather, Ferdinand (of Isabella &) he had been raised in northern Europe and spoke French,Flemish & German before Spanish.  C1 was the commander of a very effective army and 1519 he inherited the Hapsburg Empire and became C5 the Holy Roman Emperor.  Cortez had sent his treasure home to C5 when he conquered the Aztecs. Charles V at this time sits atop the world's first global empire and he set out to spread the catholic faith.  That in turn set off the protestant movement.

Francis I (F1) of France sent out his own expeditions of the new world - pushing on C5.  F1 was captured and his release was negotiated, but France and Spain were in full blown war in Europe, with F1 supporting the Turks and C5 had to use more than 700 soldiers to defend Vienna when it was besieged.  With the protestant movement really taking fire in northern Europe C5 abdicates to Philip II (P2) in 1556.  Spain maintained a global empire for more than 350 years... but things were always tough.  Keeping on top is harder than getting there sometimes...

The Huguenots of France wanted to flee France for religious freedom and Catherine (F1's wife) wanted to help them as well to provide a colony for a base for French privateers.  At that time French,Dutch and Flemish traders were all trading in the new world.  The French, rather than enslave the natives would befriend them and use them as trading partners (a strategy that worked very well in
Canada for centuries to come).  The target for the Huguenots colony was to be Florida at the mouth of the St John's River (near what is today Jacksonville.)  Ribault was the Huguenot leader, and in 1562 he had erected a stone column at the mouth of the St John's and another in the Carolinas declaring the territory for France. He ends up imprisoned in the Tower of London and the first effort of the French to establish a colony in Florida fails.

Skip forward a bit- technology for canons on ships was advancing so that sea battles no longer took place man to man on deck but at a distance. Bigger and bigger ships were needed to fight off the privateers who if they were successful would just monetize their spoils and fade back into European daily life. But for many the lure of LAND in the new world would bring people here for centuries - as there was just no more land in Europe.

Collapsing the next bit of the story into a few lines- Pedro Menendez (PM) had been quite the success in fighting pirates in the new world.  He was so renown that in 1554 he took Philip's wedding fleet to England upon P2's marriage to Mary Tudor... then he went back to the new world.  Under a treaty the French reserved the right to settle on any lands where the Spanish were not living.  This settled the war in Europe but the fighting continued on the other side of the Atlantic.

In June of 1564 a three ship French expedition under René de Laudonnière arrived in Florida and built Fort Caroline at the location of the stone marker placed by Ribault. The colonists traded with the natives.  In 1565 when Menendez is outfitting himself for a return to Florida the word reaches him of the French settlement and the race for Florida has begun. PM self finances puts together 10 ships with a year of food to sustain them during the time of planting and first harvesting.




Religious animosity is a "cloud" over Europe - and the Spanish Inquisition is in full blown mode against the Protestants... and the rift between Spain and France is partly due to the fact that France was much more tolerant of the protestants than Spain.

Ribault is on his way to Ft Caroline with reinforcements and food for the French settlers at the same time Menendez is headed to Florida - they arrive within days of each other.  Actually four days of each other... and during hurricane season.  PM went south to establish a land base and of course Ribault had arrived at Ft Caroline. This event is marked today as the founding of St Augustine, which marked the first Spanish North American occupation.



At this point the French know where PM is and PM knows where Ribault is.  The French decide to attack St Augustine.  Word gets to PM who sends his main ship back to Havana for supplies and reinforcements. He then goes to attack Ft Caroline arriving at dawn during a huge tropical storm.  The fort falls and PM despite their surrender beheads or clubs to death 111 men and the fort is renamed Ft. Matteo.

Ribault's ships have been stranded to the south due to the long tropical storm and upon return are engaged by PM and upon hearing the fate of Caroline surrender as well- they too are slaughtered by beheading and clubbing to death.  After his massacre of the French he writes to the King that he has done this "for God." Victory over the French is complete and this is a turning point in North American history because it is extremely likely that French expansion into today's SE United States could have usurped the British colonization of the area.

So all of that came from my notes from class and excuse any discrepancies- but here is the thing I wanted to mention-  and it is said perfectly in some quotes from a timeline I found online-


His full name was Pedro Menéndez de Avilés y Alonso de la Campa. He was the founder of the City of St. Augustine the first continuously occupied European city in the United States. In a world of bloodthirsty, cruel men he was a leader. To celebrate him is difficult if not impossible except he is the City's founder. The historian Fiske called him "The Last Crusader" with his mission to rid the New World of heretics.

regarding the battle mentioned above- at Ft.Caroline the timeline notes

Menendez asked "Gentlemen, from where does this fleet come?" "From France," 
answered a voice from the Trinity. '' What are you doing here?" "Bringing infantry, artillery, and supplies for a fort which the King of France has in this country, and for others which he is going to make." 

"Are you Catholics or Lutherans ?" he asked next. "Lutherans, and our General is Jean Ribaut," came the response. Then the French in turn addressed the same questions to the Spaniards, to which Menendez himself replied: "I am the General; my name is Pedro Menendez de Aviles. This is the armada of the King of Spain, who has sent me to this coast and country to burn and hang the Lutheran French who should be found there, and in the morning I will board your ships; and if I find any Catholics they will be well treated." 

In the dead silence which prevailed while the parley was in progress, "a stillness such as I never heard since I came to the world,'' writes the Spanish chaplain, those aboard his ship heard a boat put out from one of the Frenchmen, carrying a message to their flag-ship and the reply of the French commander, '' I am the Admiral, I will die first," from which they inferred that it was a proposition to surrender. When the conversation was ended there followed an exchange of abuse and foul words, until Menendez, exasperated and unable to restrain his impatience, ordered his crew to draw their swords and to pay out the cable so as to board at once.

On the morning of the twentieth, which is the feast of San Mateo, we arrived in sight of the Fort. Having offered prayers to the Blessed Lord and His Holy Mother, supplicating them to give us victory over these Lutherans. His Divine Majesty had mercy upon us and guided us in such a way that without losing one man and with only one injured, we took the Fort with all it contained, killing about two hundred and thirty men; the other ten we took as prisoners to the forest. I came by order of Your Majesty to place the Gospel in these parts and to enlighten the all that the Holy Church of Rome says and does so as to save their souls." 140 settlers are killed. 60 women and children survive. For those that he hanged he left a board proclaiming: "Not as to Frenchmen, but, as to Lutherans."

This is the story of the survivors of the French fleet that had attempted to attack St. Augustine but were caught in a storm. "On the 28th of September the Indians notified me that many Frenchmen were about six leagues from here on the coast. Taking fifty soldiers I was with them next morning at daylight. I spoke to them, told them I was Spanish; they said they were French.....I had their hands tied behind them and had them stabbed to death, leaving only sixteen, twelve being great big men, mariners whom they had stolen, the other four master carpenters and caulkers ---people for whom we have much need, and it seemed to me to punish them in this manner would be serving God, our Lord, and Your Majesty."

Some days later another group of men were assembled at the inlet. This group included Ribault. They were treated in the same manner as the first group. From Solis de Meras a Spanish priest: "Taking Jean Ribault behind the sand hills, among the bushes where the others had their hands tied behind them, as he had done before, after they were all tied, he asked if they were Catholics or Lutherans, or if any of them desired to make confession.  Jean Ribault replied, 'that all who were there were of the new religion,' ...ordered all to be killed, in the same order and at the same mark, as had been down to the others. He spared only the fifers, drummers and trumpeters, and four others who said that they were Catholics." Caught at the Matanzas inlet nearly 250 Frenchmen were slaughtered giving the place its Spanish name of Matanzas. One survivor of the mass murder was Christophe le Breton who was caught again by the Spanish and sold as a slave. 

all red font quoted from www.drbronsontours.com/Menendez


so there it is- the story of the religious fanatic terrorist Pedro Menendez - - - and while Europe got past this bad behavior hundreds of years ago, clearly not everyone in the world did...

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