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La Colonia Francesa De Florida (1562 1565)


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In the second part of his work Great Voyages (1591) the engraver, printer and publisher Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) evokes the adventures of a French Calvinist group that commanded by captain Jean Ribault and the explorer Rene Laudonniere attempted, between the years of 1562 and 1565, to settle in the Florida peninsula. The encounters with the Timucua indians, the intervention of the Spanish troops led by the first Spanish governor of Florida, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, and the subsequent slaughter of almost all the French settlers, are the predominant elements of an episode of the European Wars of Religion exported to the New World. Being Huguenot Captain Jean Ribault on his return to Europe was forced to seek shelter in England, where was granted an audience before Queen Elizabeth to ask for her support for a plan to settle colonies in America. However, accused of spying on behalf of the French, he was incarcerated in the Tower of London instead. Probably it was during his imprisonment that he wrote an account of the voyage, which survives only in English translation. Almost twenty years later Walter Raleigh finally obtained the Queens support and founded the first English colony in the New World, which he baptized Virginia. The present edition comprises the magnificent water colored engravings, the originals having being acquired by the engraver and publisher Theodor de Bry in London from the widow of painter Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, one of the few survivors of the Slaughter of Florida and among whose customers was Walter Raleigh himself. Le Moynes illustrations constitute an exceptional ethnographic documentation about indigenous groups nowadays extinct.


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