Ribault - Encyclopedia

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RIBAULT (or [[Ribaut), Jean]] (c. 1520-1565), French navigator, famous for his connexion with the early settlement of Florida, was born at Dieppe, probably about 1520. Appointed by Admiral Coligny to the command of an expedition to prepare an asylum for French Protestants in America, Ribault sailed on the 18th of February 1562, with two vessels, and on the 1 st of May landed in Florida at St John's liver, or, as he called it, Riviere de Mai. Having settled his colonists at Port Royal Harbour (now Paris Island, South Carolina), and built Fort Charles for their protection, he returned to France to find the country in the throes of the Civil War. In 1563 he appears to have been in England and to have issued True and Last Discoverie of Florida (Hakluyt Soc., vol. vii.). In April 1564 Coligny was in a position to despatch another expedition under Rene de Laudonniere, but meanwhile Ribault's colony had come to an untimely end - the unfortunate adventurers, destitute of supplies from home, having revolted against their governor and attempted to make their way back to Europe in a boat which was happily picked up, when they were in the last extremities, by an English vessel. In 1565 Ribault was again sent out to satisfy Coligny as to Laudonniere's management of his new settlement, Fort Caroline, on the Riviere de Mai. While he was still there the Spaniards, under Menendez de Aviles, though their country was at peace with France, attacked the French ships at the mouth of the river. Ribault set out to retaliate on the Spanish fleet, but his vessels were wrecked by a storm near Matanzas Inlet and he had to attempt to return to Fort Caroline by land. The fort had by this time fallen into the hands of the Spaniards, who had slaughtered all the colonists except a few who got off with two ships under Ribault's son. Induced to surrender by false assurances of safeguard, Ribault and.his men were also put to the sword in October 1565. The massacre was avenged in kind by Dominique de Gourgues (d. 1583) two years later.

See E. and E. Haag, La France protestante (1846-1859); and F. Parkman, Pioneers of France in the New World (new ed., 1899).

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