Port Royal Island 1562–86


Map Code: Ax00683

In 1562 an expedition commissioned by the French Huguenot, Admiral Gaspard II de Coligny, made landing on Parris Island, present-day South Carolina. The expedition leader, Jean Ribault, left 28 men on the island to build a settlement, christened Charlesfort: its precise site is contested. Ribault then returned home to collect supplies and reinforcements for the settlement, but became enmired in political instability in France. In his absence, the settlement disintegrated: the leader was killed in a mutiny; their stores burnt; and, surrounded by hostile natives, all but one of the survivors set out back to France in a self-made boat. Shortly afterwards, a Spanish expedition destroyed the fort, taking the one remaining defender captive. The Spanish returned in 1566 to build Fort San Felipe, but abandoned it before establishing Fort San Marcos in 1577. The site was well fortified against privateer attack and, at its peak, had a population of c. 400, but it too was abandoned within a decade.

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