The colonial endeavour was started following plans by the French Huguenot leader, Admiral of France Gaspard de Coligny, to establish New World colonies where his persecuted Protestant coreligionists could safely establish themselves. The first such attempt was an establishment in Brazil, named France Antarctique.
A first landing in Florida was made by Jean Ribault, and a second by René Goulaine de Laudonnière in 1562, before moving north where he set up Charlesfort, on Parris Island, South Carolina. Charlesfort was abandoned by all colonists, save one, the following year due to hardship and internal conflicts, and they sailed back to France.
The French establishment was wiped out by the Spanish in 1565. With the capture of Fort Caroline, Huguenots either fled into the wild mainland or were killed in the subsequent massacre at Matanzas Inlet.
In 1568, Dominique de Gourgue further explored the area, and, with the help of his allies the Saturiwa Indians, massacred the Spanish garrison in retaliation, but he did not capitalize on this action.
Foundation of Fort Caroline.
- Paul Gaffarel (1875). Histoire de la Floride française. Firmin-Didot et cie. p. 3.
- Sixteenth century North America: the land and the people by Carl Ortwin Sauer p.196