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Bulloch History with Roger Allen - Did Spanish, French or English first discover Georgia?

Bulloch History with Roger Allen - Did Spanish, French or English first discover Georgia?

Bulloch History with Roger Allen - Did Spanish, French or English first discover Georgia?

Roger Allen

   The colony of Georgia was discovered, many say, by the Spaniards. However, some of the earliest maps of Georgia drawn by those who led expeditions to the New World do not show the topography couched in Spanish terms but rather in English or in French.
      The reason: two explorers hired for the glory and gain of the Kings of France and England. The first of these was Sir Sebastian Cabot. His father, Giovanni Caboto (or John Cabot), sailed from England in 1497 to discover what they wrote of as being “The New Found Land”.
      John Cabot's three sons (Ludovico, Sebastiano and Sancto) accompanied him on his ship, the “Matthew.” Landing on what we now call the coast of the Province of Newfoundland in Canada, they sailed southward, following the coast of the American mainland, some say as far as the Carolinas.
      Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, the Seigneur (or Lord) de Chatillon-sur-Loing, who was the leading patron of the French Huguenots, sent Captain Jean Ribault with a two ships carrying a group of colonists to establish a colony in Spanish Florida.
      Arriving in what is now the Jacksonville area, Ribault headed north, ending up in Port Royal Sound in May of 1562. On his way, Ribault crossed what is now known as the Georgia coast, re-naming all of the principal rivers that flowed from the Georgia mountains to the Georgia coast.
      He called the River St. Mary, the Seine, the Satilla, the Somme, the Alatamaha, the Loire, the Newport, the Charante, the Great Ogeechee, the Garonne, and the Savannah, the Gironde. Ribault left a number of men in a small fort he referred to as “Charlesfort,” and then returned to France.
      His former second-in-command, Rene Goulaine de Laudonniere, returned to the New World in 1564 leading three ships full of Huguenot colonists. After he visited Ribault's fort and found it deserted, he sailed further south to the area of the Saint Mary's River on the Spanish Florida border.
      Here, Laudonniere established Fort Caroline. Not surprisingly, hearing of the new French fort, a Spanish fleet was sent to repel them, led by none other than Spanish King Phillip II's Adelantado (or Governor) of Spanish Florida, Pedro Menendez de Aviles.
      Governor Menendez ordered his forces to slaughter the French colonists at Fort Caroline. The area of their execution became known as “Matanzas” (roughly, massacres or slaughters), for as soon as the French heard what had happened they sent a force to exact revenge.
      Not only did the French soldiers destroy the fort the Spanish had built atop the ruins of Fort Caroline, but they then methodically executed every Spanish or native man, woman, and child who was unfortunate enough to be present when they attacked the fort.

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