A Succinct Retelling

Laudonnière & Fort Caroline: History and Documents by Charles E. Bennett

Historian and Florida Congressman, Charles Bennett, produced this work in 1964.  The book is laid out in two major sections.  In the first section, Bennett retells the Fort Caroline story in just under 60 pages.  It is a thorough, yet accessible treatment of the French saga in Florida.  This work can be quite helpful for those encountering this part of the Florida story for the first time.  Section One of this book has been printed as a stand-alone booklet called, Fort Caroline and Its Leader, but it is increasingly hard to find.  It can sometimes be found at the Fort Caroline National Memorial bookstore.  In the second section of Laudonnière & Fort Caroline, Bennett reproduces fifteen historical documents that shed further light on Huguenot experience in Florida. 

University of Alabama Press



A Comprehensive Eyewitness

Three Voyages by René Laudonnière

Translated from the French and with an Introduction and Notes by Charles E. Bennett

René Laudonnière was Jean Ribault’s second in command on the first Huguenot journey to Florida, and it was eventually Laudonnière who was tasked with establishing and leading the French settlement on the River May.   He was also one of the few leading Frenchmen to escape the slaughter of Fort Caroline and make it home to France.  His story was first translated into English by Richard Hakluyt in 1587.  In 1975, historian and Florida Congressman, Charles Bennett, provided this modern translation.   Laudonnière’s perspective offers invaluable insight into the totality of the Fort Caroline story.

University of Alabama Press



Other Firsthand Accounts

The Whole & True Discouerye of Terra Florida by Jean Ribault

After Ribault and Laudonnière’s first voyage, they returned home to find France embroiled in a religious civil war.  Ribault fled to England to find help for their newly established colony, Charlesfort.  While there, he published his account of their voyage.  Very few copies of this original English publication have survived, but in 1964, the University of Florida Press reprinted this account in celebration of Florida’s quadricentennial.  The 1964 edition contains a facsimile of the original 1563 book as well as a clearer reprinting of the book’s manuscript with notes for modern readers.  This edition also contains helpful historical information in its three appendices.  The 1964 edition can be hard to find and expensive.  Thankfully, the University of Florida has published a digital copy in their archives. It can be found at:

University of Florida Digital Collection


Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Adelantado Governor and Captain-General of Florida: Memorial by Gonzalo Solís de Merás

The French were not the only ones to record the events surrounding Fort Caroline.  Gonzalo Solís de Merás was a priest and the brother-in-law of Pedro Menéndez, the leader of the Spanish forces in Florida. Merás was with Menéndez during the conflict with the French.  He offers a Spanish perspective on the events at and around Fort Caroline, St. Augustine, and Matanzas.  Merás’s work also gives a detailed account of Jean Ribault’s last moments and the slaughter of the French.  This work was translated by Jeannette Thurber Conner for the Florida State Historical Society in 1923.  The Society has long been disbanded and this work can only be found in a handful of libraries.  Thankfully, Google Books has a digital copy that can be accessed free of charge.  It can be found here:

Google Books