Pilgrims Before Plymouth

Pilgrims Before Plymouth


  • Pilgrims Before Plymouth

Published Date

  • published 1940


[page 3]
of the Protestant party in that country, turned toward the New World,
seeking a place where Huguenots could find safety and security. For the
leader of an expedition to investigate the feasibility of planting a colony
there, he chose a man well fitted for the peculiar responsibilities of such a

Jean Ribaut, fervent Huguenot and staunch patriot, was a native
of Normandy, having been born in the old coast town of Dieppe. About
forty years of age, possessed of eloquence, magnetism and a native
shrewdness, and capable of remarkable influence over subordinates, he
was also rated as the best French seaman of his time. During the siege of
Calais in 1558, when the French captured that city from the English, he
had served as a captain in the fleet. The following year he had been sent
to Scotland to guard certain interests of France, a mission which he
consummated with skill and diplomacy. His one fault, remarked upon
his lieutenant, Rene de Laudonniere, was a quality of unyielding
stubbornness, a fatal trait that ultimately contributed to his destruction.

The Florida expedition had set out on its voyage February 18,
1562. The fleet consisted of two vessels resembling old Dutch three-
masters, high-pooped and tub-like, a large sloop and two smaller ones.
Of the one hundred and fifty men aboard, one-half were arquebusiers,
many of them veteran soldiers. Although the High Admiral had called
upon Frenchmen to assemble for the journey without regard to religion,
ostensibly suggesting that the proposed colonization be of national