PREFATORY NOTE TO THE HUGUENOTS IN FLORIDA.
The story of New France opens with a tragedy. The political and religious enmities which were soon to bathe Europe in blood broke out with an intense and concentrated fury in the distant wilds of Florida. It was under equivocal auspices that Coligny and his partisans essayed to build up a Calvinist France in America, and the attempt was met by all the forces of national rivalry, personal interest, and religious hate.
This striking passage of our early history is remarkable for the fullness and precision of the authorities that illustrate it. The incidents of the Huguenot occupation of Florida are recorded by eight eye-witnesses. Their evidence is marked by an unusual accord in respect to essential facts, as well as by a minuteness of statement which vividly pictures the events described. The following are the principal authorities consulted for the main body of the narrative.
Ribauld, 'The Whole and True Discovery of Terra Florida,' This is Captain Jean Ribaut's account of his voyage to Florida in 1562. It was "prynted at London," "newly set forthe in Englishe," in 1563, and reprinted by Hakluyt in 1582 in his black-letter tract entitled 'Divers Voyages.' It is not known to exist in the original French.
'L'Histoire Notable de la Floride, mise en lumiere par M. Basanier' (Paris, 1586). The most valuable portion of this work consists of the letters of Rene de Laudonniere, the French commandant in Florida in 1564-65. They are interesting, and, with necessary allowance for the position and prejudices of the writer, trustworthy.
Challeux, Discours de l'Histoire de la Floride (Dieppe, 1566). Challeux was a carpenter, who went to Florida in 1565. He was above sixty years of age, a zealous Huguenot, and a philosopher in his way. His story is affecting from its simplicity. Various editions of it appeared under various titles.
Le Moyne, Brevis Narratio eorum qucs in Florida Americce Provincia Gallis acciderunt. Le Moyne was Laudonniere's artist. His narrative forms the Second Part of the Grands Voyages of De Bry (Frankfort, 1591). It is illustrated by numerous drawings made by the writer from memory, and accompanied with descriptive letter-press.
Coppie d'une Lettre venant de la Floride (Paris, 1565). This is a letter from one of the adventurers under Laudonniere. It is reprinted in the Recueil de Pieces sur la Floride of Ternaux.-Compans. Ternaux also prints in the same volume a narrative called Histoire memorable du dernier Voyage faict par le Capitaine Jean Ribaut. It is of no original value, being compiled from Laudonniere and Challeux.
Une Bequete au Roy, faite en forme de Complainte (1566). This is a petition for redress to Charles the Ninth from the relatives of the French massacred in Florida by the Spaniards. It recounts many incidents of that tragedy.
La Reprinse de la Floride par le Cappitaine Gourgue. This is a manuscript in the Bibliotheque Nationale, printed in the Recueil of Ternaux-Compans. It contains a detailed account of the remarkable expedition of Dominique de Gourgues against the Spaniards in Florida in 1567-68.
Charlevoix, in his Histoire de la Nouvelle France, speaks of another narrative of this expedition in manuscript, preserved in the Gourgues family. A copy of it, made in 1831 by the Vicomte de Gourgues, has been placed at the writer's disposal.
Popeliniere, De Thou, Wytfleit, D'Aubigne De Laet, Brantome, Lescarbot, Champlain, and other writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, have told or touched upon the story of the Huguenots in Florida; but they all draw their information from one or more of the sources named above.
Lettres et Papiers d' Estat du Sieur de Forguevaulx (Bibliotheque Nationale). These include the correspondence of the French and Spanish courts concerning the massacre of the Huguenots. They are printed by Gaffarel in his Histoire de le Floride Francaise.
The Spanish authorities are the following - Barcia (Cardenas y Cano), Ensayo Cronologico para la Historia General de la Florida (Madrid, 1723). This annalist had access to original documents of great interest. Some of them are used as material for his narrative, others are copied entire. Of these, the most remarkable is that of Solis de las Meras, Memorial de todas las Jornadas de la Conquista de la Florida.
Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, Relacion de la Jornada de Pedro Menendez de Aviles en la Florida (Documentos Ineditos del Archivo de Indias, III. 441). A French translation of this journal will be found in the Recueil de Pieces sur let Floride of Ternaux-Compans. Mendoza was chaplain of the expedition commanded by Menendez de Aviles, and, like Solfs, he was an eye-witness of the events which he relates.
Pedro Menendez de Aviles, Siete Cartas escritas al Rey, Anos de 1565 y 1566, MSS. These are the despatches of the Adelantado Menendez to Philip the Second. They were procured for the writer, together with other documents, from the archives of Seville, and their contents are now for the first time made public. They consist of seventy-two closely written foolscap pages, and are of the highest interest and value as regards the present subject, confirming and amplifying the statements of Solis and Mendoza, and giving new and curious information with respect to the designs of Spain upon the continent of North America.
It is unnecessary to specify the authorities for the introductory and subordinate portions of the narrative.