previous next

A notable historie containing foure voyages made by certaine French Captaines into Florida : Wherein the great riches and fruitefulnesse of the Countrey with the maners of the people hitherto concealed are brought to light, written all, saving the last, by Monsieur Laudonniere, who remained there himselfe as the French Kings Lieutenant a yeere and a quarter:
Translated out of French into English by M. Richard Hakluyt.

An Epistle Dedicatorie to sir Walter Ralegh, prefixed by master Richard Hakluyt before the history of Florida , which he translated out of French 1587

To the right honourable Sir Walter Ralegh Knight, Captaine of her Majesties Gard , Lord Warden of the Stanneries, and her Highnesse Lieutenant generall of the County of Cornewall, R. H. wisheth true felicite.
SIR, after that this historie, which had bene concealed many yeeres, was lately committed to print and published in France under your Name by my learned friend M. Martine Basanier of Paris, I was easily enduced to turne it into English, understanding that the same was no lesse gratefull to you here, then I know it to be acceptable to many great and worthie persons there. And no marvaile though it were very welcome unto you, and that you liked of the translation thereof, since no history hitherto set forth hath more affinitie, resemblance or conformitie with yours of Virginia , then this of Florida . But calling to minde that you had spent more yeeres in France then I, and understand the French better then my selfe, I forthwith perceived that you approoved mine endevour, not for any private ease or commoditie that thereby might redound unto you, but that it argued a singular and especiall care you had of those which are to be employed in your owne like enterprise, whom, by the reading of this my translation, you would have forewarned and admonished aswell to beware of the gross negligence in providing of sufficiency of victuals, the securitie, disorders, and mutinies that fell out among the French, with the great inconveniences that thereupon ensued, that by others mishaps they might learne to prevent and avoyde the like, as also might be put in minde, by the reading of the manifolde commodities and great fertilitie of the places herein at large described and so neere neighbours unto our Colonies, that they might generally bee awaked and stirred up unto the diligent observation of every thing that might turne to the advancement of the action, wherinto they are so cheerefully entred. Many speciall poynts concerning the commodities of these partes, the accidents of the French mens government therein, the causes of their good or bad successe, with the occasions of the abandoning one of their forts, and the surprise of the other by the enemie are herein truely and faithfully recorded: Which because they be quoted by me in the margents, and reduced into a large alphabeticall table, which I have annexed to the ende of the worke, it shall be needlesse to recken up againe. And that the rather, because the same with divers other things of chiefest importance are lively drawne in colours at your no smal charges by the skillfull painter James Morgues, sometime living in the Black-fryers in London (whom Monsieur Chastillion then Admirall of France sent thither with Laudonniere for that purpose) which was an eye-witnesse of the goodnesse and fertility of those regions, and hath put downe in writing many singularities which are not mentioned in this treatise: which since he hath published together with the purtraitures. These foure voyages I knew not to whom I might better offer then to your selfe, and that for divers just considerations. First, for that as I have sayd before, they were dedicated unto you in French: secondly because now foure times also you have attempted the like upon the selfe same coast neere adjoyning: thirdly in that you have persed as farre up into the maine and discovered no lesse secrets in the partes of your aboad, then the French did in the places of their inhabiting lastly considering you are now also ready (upon the late returne of Captaine Stafford and good newes which he brought you of the safe arrival of your last Colony in their wished haven) to prosecute this action more throughly then ever. And here to speake somewhat of this your enterprise, I affirme, that if the same may speedily and effectually be pursued, it will proove farre more beneficiall in divers respects unto this our realme, then the world, yea many of the wiser sort, have hitherto imagined. The particular commodities whereof are wel knowen unto your selfe and some few others, and are faithfully and with great judgement committed to writing, as you are not ignorant, by one of your followers, which remained there about a twelvemonth with your worshipful Lieutenant M. Ralph Lane, in the diligent search of the secrets of those Countreys. Touching the speedy and effectual pursuing of your action, though I wote well it would demaund a princes purse to have it throughly followed without lingring, yet am I of opinion, that you shall drawe the same before it be long to be profitable and gainful aswel to those of our nation there remaining, as to the merchants of England that shall trade hereafter thither, partly by certaine secret commodities already discovered by your servants, & partly by breeding of divers sorts of beasts in those large and ample regions, and planting of such things in that warme climat as wil best prosper there, and our realme standeth most in need of. And this I find to have bin the course that both the Spaniards and Portugals tooke in the beginnings of their discoveries & conquests. For the Spaniards at their first entrance into Hispaniola found neither suger-canes nor ginger growing there, nor any kind of our cattel: But finding the place fit for pasture they sent kine & buls and sundry sorts of other profitable beasts thither, & transported the plants of suger-canes, and set the rootes of ginger: the hides of which oxen, with suger and ginger, are now the chiefe merchandise of that Island. The Portugals also at their first footing in Madera, as John Barros writes in his first Decade, found nothing there but mighty woods for timber, whereupon they called the Island by that name. Howbeit the climate being favourable, they inriched it by their own industry with the best wines and sugers in the world. The like maner of proceeding they used in the Isles of the Acores by sowing therin great quantity of Woad. So dealt they in S. Thomas under the Equinoctial, and in Brasil , and sundry other places. And if our men will follow their steps, by your wise direction I doubt not but in due time they shall reape no lesse commoditie and benefit. Moreover there is none other likelihood but that her Majesty, which hath Christned, and given the name to your Virginia , if need require, will deale after the maner of honorable godmothers, which, seeing their gossips not fully able to bring up their children themselves, are wont to contribute to their honest education, the rather if they find any towardlines or reasonable hope of goodnesse in them. And if Elizabeth Queene of Castile and Aragon , after her husband Ferdinando and she had emptied their cofers and exhausted their treasures in subduing the kingdome of Granada and rooting the Mores, a wicked weed, out of Spayne, was neverthelesse so zealous of Gods honour, that (as Fernandus Columbus the sonne of Christopher Columbus recordeth in the history of the deedes of his father) she layd part of her owne jewels, which she had in great account, to gage, to furnish his father foorth upon his first voyage, before any foot of land of all the West Indies was discovered; what may we expect of our most magnificent and gracious prince ELIZABETH of England , into whose lappe the Lord hath most plentifully throwne his treasures, what may wee, I say, hope of her forwardnesse and bounty in advancing of this your most honourable enterprise, being farre more certaine then that of Columbus , at that time especially, and tending no lesse to the glorie of God then that action of the Spanyardes? For as you may read in the very last wordes of the relation of Newe Mexico extant nowe in English, the maine land, where your last Colonie meane to seate themselves, is replenished with many thousands of Indians, Which are of better wittes then those of Mexico and Peru , as hath bene found by those that have had some triall of them : whereby it may bee gathered that they will easily embrace the Gospell, forsaking their idolatrie, wherein at this present for the most part they are wrapped and intangled. A wise Philosopher noting the sundry desires of divers men, writeth, that if an oxe bee put into a medowe hee will seeke to fill his bellie with grasse, if a Storke bee cast in shee will seeke for Snakes, if you turne in a Hound he will seeke to start an Hare: So sundry men entring into these discoveries propose unto themselves severall endes. Some seeke authoritie and places of commandement, others experience by seeing of the worlde, the most part worldly and transitorie gaine, and that often times by dishonest and unlawfull meanes, the fewest number the glorie of God and the saving of the soules of the poore and blinded infidels. Yet because divers honest and well disposed persons are entred already into this your businesse, and that I know you meane hereafter to sende some such good Churchmen thither, as may truely say with the Apostle to the Savages, Wee seeke not yours but you: I conceive great comfort of the successe of this your action, hoping that the Lorde, whose power is wont to bee perfected in weakenesse, will blesse the feeble foundations of your building. Onely bee you of a valiant courage and faint not, as the Lorde sayd unto Josue, exhorting him to proceede on forward in the conquest of the land of promise, and remember that private men have happily wielded and waded through as great enterprises as this, with lesser meanes then those which God in his mercie hath bountifully bestowed upon you, to the singuler good, as I assure my selfe, of this our Common wealth wherein you live. Hereof we have examples domesticall and forreine. Remember I pray you, what you find in the beginning of the Chronicle of the conquest of Ireland newly dedicated unto your selfe. Read you not that Richard Strangbow the decayed earle of Chepstow in Monmuthshire, being in no great favour of his soveraigne, passed over into that Island in the yere 1171. and accompanied only with certain of his private friends had in short space such prosperous successe, that he opened the way for king Henry the second to the speedy subjection of all that warlike nation to this crowne of England ? The like conquest of Brasilia , and annexing the same to the kingdome of Portugall was first begun by meane and private men, as Don Antonio de Castillio, Ambassadour here for that realme, and by office keeper of all the records and monuments of their discoveries, assured me in this city in the yere 1581. Now if the greatnes of the maine of Virginia , and the large extension therof, especially to the West, should make you thinke that the subduing of it, were a matter of more difficulty then the conquest of Ireland , first I answere, that as the late experience of that skilfull pilote and Captaine M. John Davis to the Northwest (toward which his discovery your selfe have thrise contributed with the forwardest) hath shewed a great part to be maine sea, where before was thought to be maine land, so for my part I am fully perswaded by Ortelius late reformation of Culvacan and the gulfe of California , that the land on the backe part of Virginia extendeth nothing so far westward as is put downe in the Maps of those parts. Moreover it is not to be denied, but that one hundred men will do more now among the naked and unarmed people in Virginia , then one thousand were able then to do in Ireland against that armed and warlike nation in those dales. I say further, that these two yeres last experience hath plainly shewed, that we may spare 10000. able men without any misse. And these are as many as the kingdome of Portugal had ever in all their garrisons of the Acores , Madera, Arguin, Cape verde, Guinea, Brasill, Mozambique , Melinde, Zocotora, Ormus, Diu, Goa, Malaca , the Malucos, and Macao upon the coast of China . Yea this I say by the confession of singuler expert men of their own nation (whose names I suppresse for certaine causes) which have bene personally in the East Indies, & have assured me that their kings had never above ten thousand natural borne Portugals (their slaves excepted) out of their kingdome remaining in all the aforesaid territories. Which also this present yeere I saw confirmed in a secrete extract of the particular estate of that kingdome and of every governement and office subject to the same, with the several pensions thereunto belonging. Seeing therefore we are so farre from want of people, that retyring daily home out of the Lowe Countreys they go idle up and downe in swarms for lack of honest intertainment, I see no fitter place to employ some part of the better sort of them trained up thus long in service, then in the inward partes of the firme of Virginia against such stubborne Savages as shal refuse obedience to her Majestie. And doubtlesse many of our men will bee glad and faine to accept this condition, when as by the reading of this present treatie they shal understand the fertilitie and riches of the regions confining so neere upon yours, the great commodities and goodnesse wherof you have bin contented to suffer to come to light. In the meane season I humbly commend my selfe and this my translation unto you, and your selfe, and all those which under you have taken this enterprise in hand to the grace and good blessing of the Almighty, which is able to build farther, and to finish the good worke which in these our dayes he hath begun by your most Christian and charitable endevour.

From London the 1. of May 1587.Your L. humble at commandement.

The description of the West Indies in generall, but chiefly and particularly of Florida .

THAT part of the earth which at this day we call the fourth part of the world, or America , or rather the West India, was unknowen unto our ancestours by reason of the great distance thereof. In like maner all the Westerne Islands and fortunate Isles were not discovered but by those of our age. Howbeit there have bin some which have said that they were discoverd in the time of Augustus Caesar, and that Virgil hath made mention thereof in the sixt booke of his Æneidos, when he saith, There is a land beyond the starres, and the course of the yeere and of the Sunne, where Atlas the Porter of heaven sustaineth the pole upon his shoulders: neverthelesse it is easie to judge that hee meaneth not to speake of this land, whereof no man is found to have written before his time, neither yet above a thousand yeeres after. Christopher Colon did first light upon this land in the yeere 1592. And five yeeres after Americus went thither by the commandement of the king of Castile , and gave unto it his own name, whereupon afterward it was called America . This man was very well scene in the Arte of Navigation and in Astronomie: whereby hee discovered in his time many lands unknowen unto the ancient Geographers. This Countrey is named by some, the land of Bresill, and the lande of Parots. It stretcheth it selfe, according unto Postell, from the one Pole to the other, saving at the streight of Magelan, whereunto it reacheth 53. degrees beyond the Equator. I will divide it for the better understanding into three principall parts. That which is toward the Pole Arcticke on the North is called new France, because that in the yeere 1524. John Verrazzano a Florentine was sent by King Francis the first, and by Madam the Regent his mother unto these newe Regions, where he went on land, and discovered all the coast which is from the Tropicke of Cancer, to wit, from the eight and twentieth unto the fiftieth degree, and father unto the North. Hee planted in this Countrey the Ensignes and Armes of the king of France: so that the Spaniardes themselves which were there afterwarde, have named this Countrey Terra Francesca. The same then extendeth itselfe in Latitude from the 25. degree unto the 54. toward the North: and in Longitude from 210. unto 330. The Easterne part thereof is called by the late writers The land of Norumbega, which beginneth at the Bay of Gama, which separateth it from the Isle of Canada, whither Jaques Carthier sayled the yeere 1535. About the which there are many Ilands, among which is that which is named Terra de Labrador stretching towarde Groenland . In the Westerne part there are many knowen Countreys, as the Regions of Quivira, Civola, Astatlan, and Terlichichimici. The Southerne part is called Florida , because it was discovered on Palme-sunday, which the Spaniardes call Pascha Florida. The Northerne part is altogether unknowen.

The second part of all America is called newe Spaine. It extendeth from the Tropicke of Cancer in twentie three degrees and a halfe, unto the ninth degree. In the same is situated the Citie of Themistitan, and it hath many Regions, and many Ilandes adjoyned unto it, which are called the Antilles , whereof the most famous and renoumed are Hispaniola and Isabella, with an infinite number of others. All this land, together with the Bay of Mexico, and all the Ilands aforesayd, have not in Longitude past seventie degrees, to wit, from the two hundreth and fortie, unto three hundreth and ten: it is also long and narrowe as Italic. The third part of America is called Peru , it is very great, and extendeth it selfe in Latitude from the tenth degree unto the three and fiftieth beyond the Equator, to wit, as I have sayde before, unto the streight of Magelan. It is made in fashion like to an egge, and is very well knowen upon all sides. The part where it is largest hath threescore degrees, and from thence it waxeth narrower and narrower toward both the endes. In one part of this lande Villegagnon planted right under the Tropicke of Capricorne, and he called it France Antarctick, because it draweth toward the pole Antarctick, as our France doeth toward the Arctick.

New France is almost as great as all our Europe . Howbeit the most knowen and inhabited part thereof is Florida , whither many Frenchmen have made divers voyages at sundry times, insomuch that nowe it is the best knowen Countrey which is in all this part of newe France. The Cape thereof is as it were a long head of lande stretching out into the Sea an hundred leagues, and runneth directly towarde the South: it hath right over against it five and twentie leagues distant the Isle of Cuba otherwise called Isabella, toward the East the Isles of Bahama and Lucaya, and toward the West the Bay of Mexico. The Countrey is flat, and divided with divers rivers, and therefore moyst, and is sandie towards the Sea shore. There groweth in those partes great quantitie of Pinetrees, which have no kernels in the apples which they beare. Their woods are full of Oakes, Walnuttrees, blacke Cherrietrees, Mulberry trees, Lentiskes, and Chestnut trees, which are more wilde then those in France. There is great store of Cedars, Cypresses, Bayes, Palme trees, Hollies, and wilde Vines, which climbe up along the trees and beare good Grapes. There is there a kinde of Medlers, the fruite whereof is better then that of France, and bigger. There are also Plumtrees, which beare very faire fruite, but such as is not very good. There are Raspasses, and a little berrie which we call among us Blues, which are very good to eate. There growe in that Countrey a kinde of Rootes which they call in their language Hasez, whereof in necessitie they make bread. There is also there the tree called Esquine, which is very good against the Pockes and other contagious diseases. The Beastes best knowen in this Countrey are Stagges, Hindes, Goates, Deere, Leopards, Ounces, Luserns, divers sortes of Wolves, wilde Dogs, Hares, Cunnies, and a certaine kinde of beast that differeth little from the Lyon of Africa. The foules are Turkeycocks, Partridges, Parrots, Pigions, Ringdoves, Turtles, Blackbirdes, Crowes, Tarcels, Faulcons, Laynerds, Herons, Cranes, Storkes, wilde Geese, Malards, Cormorants Hernshawes, white, red, blacke and gray, and an infinite sort of all wilde foule. There is such abundance of Crocodiles, that oftentimes in swimming men are assayled by them; of Serpents there are many sorts. There is found among the Savages good quantitie of Gold and Silver, which is gotten out of the shippes that are lost upon the coast, as I have understood by the Savages themselves. They use traffique thereof one with another. And that which maketh me the rather beleeve it, is, that on the coast towarde the Cape, where commonly the shippes are cast away, there is more store of Silver then toward the North. Neverthelesse they say, that in the Mountaines of Appalatcy there are Mines of Copper, which I thinke to be Golde. There is also in this Countrey great store of graynes and herbes, whereof might be made excellent good dyes and paintings of all kind of colours. And in trueth the Indians which take pleasure in painting of their skins, know very well how to use the same. The men are of an Olive colour, of great stature, faire, without any deformitie, and well proportioned. They cover their privities with the skinne of a Stagge well dressed. The most part of them have their bodies, armes, and thighes painted with very faire devises: the painting whereof can never bee taken away, becase the same is pricked into their flesh. Their haire is very blacke and reacheth even downe to their hips, howbeit they trusse it up after a fashion that becommeth them very well. They are great dissemblers and traitours, valiant of their persons & fight very well. They have none other weapons but their bowes and arrowes. They make the string of their bow of a gut of a Stag, or of a Stags skin, which they know how to dresse as well as any man in France, and with as different sorts of colours. They head their arrowes with the teeth of fishes and stone, which they worke very finely and handsomly. They exercise their yong men to runne well, and they make a game among themselves, which he winneth that hath the longest breath. They also exercise themselves much in shooting. They play at the ball in this maner: they set up a tree in the middest of a place which is eight or nine fathom high, in the top whereof there is set a square mat made of reedes or Bulrushes, which whosoever hitteth in playing thereat, winneth the game. They take great pleasure in hunting and fishing. The kings of the Countrey make great warre one against the other, which is not executed but by surprise, and they kill all the men they can take: afterward they cut of their heads to have their haire, which returning home they carry away, to make thereof their triumph when they come to their houses. They save the women and children and nourish them and keepe them alwayes with them. Being returned home from the warre, they assemble all their subjects, and for joy three days and three nights they make good cheare, they daunce & sing, likewise they make the most ancient women of the Countrey to dance, holding the haires of their enemies in their hands: and in dauncing they sing praises to the Sunne, ascribing unto him the honour of the victory. They have no knowledge of God, nor of any religion, saving of that which they see, as the Sunne and the Moone. They have their Priests to whom they give great credit, because they are great magicians, great soothsayers, and callers upon divels. These Priests serve them in stead of Physitions and Chirurgions. They carry alwayes about them a bag full of herbes and drugs to cure the sicke diseased which for the most part are sick of the pocks, for they love women & maidens exceedingly, which they call the daughters of the Sunne : and some of them are Sodomites. They marry, and every one hath his wife, and it is lawfull for the King to have two or three: yet none but the first is honoured and acknowledged for Queene: and none but the children of the first wife inherite the goods and authoritie of the father. The women doe all the businesse at home. They keepe not house with them after they know they be with child. And they eate not of that which they touch as long as they have their flowers. There are in all this Countrey many Hermaphrodites, which take all the greatest paine, and beare the victuals when they goe to warre. They paint their faces much, and sticke their haire full of feathers or downe, that they may seeme more terrible. The victuals which they carry with them, are of bread, of hony, and of meale made of Maiz parched in the fire, which they keepe without being marred a long while. They carry also sometimes fish, which they cause to be dressed in the smoke. In necessitie they eat a thousand rifraffes, even to the swallowing downe of coales, and putting sand into the pottage that they make with this meale. When they goe to warre, their King marcheth first, with a clubbe in the one hand, and his bowe in the other, with his quiver full of arrowes. All his men follow him, which have likewise their bowes and arrowes. While they fight, they make great cries and exclamations. They take no enterprise in hand, but first they assemble oftentimes their Councell together, and they take very good advisement before they growe to a resolution. They meete together every morning in a great common house, whither their King repaireth, and setteth him downe upon a seate which is higher then the seates of the other: where all of them one after another come and salute him: and the most ancient begin their salutations, lifting up both their handes twise as high as their face, saying, ha, he, ya, and the rest answer ha, ha. Assoone as they have done their salutation, every man sitteth him downe upon the seates which are round about in the house. If there be any thing to intreate of, the King calleth the Jawas, that is to say, their Priestes, and the most ancient men, and asketh them their advise. Afterward he commaundeth Cassine to be brewed, which is a drinke made of the leaves of a certaine tree: They drinke this Cassine very hotte: he drinketh first, then he causeth to be given thereof to all of them one after another in the same boule, which holdeth well a quart measure of Paris . They make so great account of this drinke, that no man may taste thereof in this assembly, unlesse hee hath made proofe of his valure in the warre. Moreover this drinke hath such a vertue, that assoone as they have drunke it, they become all in a sweate, which sweate being past, it taketh away hunger and thirst for foure and twenty houres after. When a King dyeth, they burie him very solemnly, and upon his grave they set the cuppe wherein he was woont to drinke: and round about the sayde grave they sticke many arrowes, and weepe and fast three dayes together without ceassing. All the kings which were his friends make the like mourning: and in token of the love which they bare him, they cut of more then the one halfe of their haire, as well men as women. During the space of sixe Moones (so they reckon their moneths) there are certaine women appoynted which bewaile the death of this King, crying with a loude voyce thrise a day, to wit, in the Morning, at Noone, and at Evening. All the goods of this King are put into his house, and afterward they set it on fire, so that nothing is ever more after to be seene. The like is done with the goods of the Priestes, and besides they burie the bodies of the Priests in their houses, and then they set them on fire. They sowe their Maiz twise a yere, to wit, in March and in June, and all in one and the same soyle. The sayd Maiz from the time that it is sowed untill the time that it be ready to be gathered, is but three moneths on the ground. The other 6. moneths they let the earth rest. They have also faire Pumpions, & very good Beanes. They never dung their land, onely when they would sowe, they set the weedes on fire, which grewe up the 6. moneths, and burne them all. They dig their ground with an instrument of wood which is fashioned like a broad mattocke, wherewith they digge their Vines in France, they put two graines; of Maiz together. When the land is to be sowed, the King commaundeth one of his men to assemble his subjects every day to labour, during which labour the King causeth store of that drinke to be made for them, whereof we have spoken. At the time when the Maiz is gathered, it is all carried into a common house, where it is distributed to every man according to his qualitie. They sowe no more but that which they thinke will serve their turnes for sixe moneths, & that very scarcely. For during the Winter they retire themselves for three or foure moneths in the yeere into the woods, where they make little cotages of Palme boughes for their retraite, and live there of Maste, of Fish which they take, of Oisters, of Stagges, of Turkeycockes, and other beasts which they take. They eate all their meate broyled on the coales, and dressed in the smoake, which in their language they call Boucaned. They eate willingly the flesh of the Crocodile: and in deede it is faire and white: and were it not that it savoureth too much like Muske we would oftentimes have eaten thereof. They have a custome among them, that when they finde themselves sicke, where they feele the paine, whereas we cause ourselves to be let blood, their Physitions sucke them untill they make the blood follow.

The women are likewise of good proportion and tall, and of the same colour that the men be of, painted as the men be: Howbeit when they are borne, they be not so much of an Olive colour, and are farre whiter. For the chiefe cause that maketh them to be of this colour proceedes of annointings of oyle which they use among them: and they doe it for a certaine ceremonie which I could not learne, and because of the Sunne which shineth hote upon their bodies. The agilitie of the women is so great, that they can swimme over the great Rivers bearing their children upon one of their armes. They climbe up also very nimbly upon the highest trees in the Countrey.

Beholde in briefe the description of the Countrey, with the nature and customes of the Inhabitants: which I was very willing to write, before I entred any further into the discourse of my historic, to the end that the Readers might be the better prepared to understand that, which I meane hereafter to entreate of.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1592 AD (2)
1587 AD (2)
1581 AD (2)
1535 AD (2)
1524 AD (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: