Biography of Jean Ribault (ca.1520-1565)

Official Navy, colonizer and French Explorer, born in 1520, in Dieppe (France), and died October 12, 1565, at Fort Caroline (current state of Florida, United States of America).

Ribault began his career as a seaman from a young age. With the passage of the years became one of the best naval officers in the service of the French Protestant cause, directed by the Huguenot leader, Admiral Gaspard de Coligny. In fact, thanks to its worth, good job as marino and loyalty to the cause Huguenot, Ribault was commissioned by Coligny so he/she moved to America to a large group of Huguenots persecuted by the French Catholic authorities, and, once there, find a proper place where to found a colony that could accommodate them.

At the beginning of the spring of 1562, Ribault sailed from France in command of three ships that 150 settlers road. Arrived on 1 may of the same year in a place close to the mouth of the San Juan River, which he/she called may, in the current U.S. State of Florida. Soon after, Ribault began the search for the ideal place to found the city, he/she found after tracing the coast heading north. Thus founded the colony of Charles Fort, where today is located the town of Port Royal (State of South Carolina, in the United States of America). Act followed, Ribault took possession of such lands on behalf of the French Crown and returned immediately to France; French port became the 20 of July of 1562.

In France, Ribault was found with the country torn by bloody wars of religion between Catholics and Protestants. In search of a safe place, Ribault went to England, where he/she was captured by arouse suspicions. However, finally the Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) decreed his freedom in 1565. During the brief time that remained imprisoned, Ribault had time to write a kind of memoirs with the title of Whole and True Discovery of Terra Florida, which were very well received in the Anglo-Saxon country.

Back in France, that same year Coligny returned to take care of the San Juan River to set sail heading to America under the command of a much more ambitious expedition, composed of seven boats, with the Mission of reinforcing and repopulate the new colony of Fort Caroline, who a year earlier had founded another French Explorer, René de Landonniére, right in the mouth, since the colony of Charles Fort had been abandoned recently. Alarmed the Spanish Crown by the activities of the French in Florida, the Spanish King Felipe II (1556-1598) named don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in advance of Florida, which provided carte blanche for this conquered all possible lands to the East of Florida and expel zone, by means that were, the heretics "Huguenots".

So, just Ribault landed on Fort Caroline, it was surprised by a very strong attack and harassment carried out by a squadron under the command of Avilés, who had no sympathy with their inhabitants, who literally became a knife, including Ribault, sewn stabbed to death.

As a warning to future heretical adventures with claims settled in Florida, Avilés sent butchering and skinning the body of Ribault: its members were stationed at various stakes around the Fort and his skin was sent to the French court, in a reprehensible act of sadism and brutality as never before seen by American lands. In the rest of the bodies of the most relevant French officers who were hanged, Avilés sent put the inscription: "Hanged not as French, but as heretics".


HILTON, Sylvia. Spanish occupation of Florida. (Madrid: CSIC Ed., 1982).

RUIDIAZ and CARAVIA, Eugenio. Conquest and colonization of Florida by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. (Madrid: Ed. Istmo, 1989).

MERE Solis, Gonzalo. Pedro Menéndez de AVilés and the conquest of Florida (1565). (Oviedo: Ed. Publishing Group Asturian, 1990).