If you're interested in St. Augustine and its history, you may have noticed all the recent coverage of the city's 450th birthday celebration. You can find videos on Youtube, articles in local newspapers, lots of buzz (mostly positive) concerning the birthday bash. Still, this Sunday will be the 450th anniversary of a different kind of event, the massacre of the French Huguenots at Fort Caroline (orchestrated, coincidentally, by the same Spanish soldiers whose building of St. Augustine's original 1565 colony is so well-praised, *cough, cough*).
So what happened exactly? Long story short: The Frenchmen, hated for both their nationality and their Protestant faith, built a fort in "Spanish" territory, and naturally the Spanish didn't want it there. Conquistadors slogged through a hurricane and attacked Fort Caroline on the morning of September 20, 1565, killing many of the men and capturing women and children. The fort was then taken under Spanish control. Sadly, the names of the victims remain mostly unknown.
Please join me in remembering those who had to die so St. Augustine could become the storied city it is today. I find it distressing that those who care about the city's history and may be in a position to recognize the victims of this New World tragedy seem disinterested in doing so. Why justify, gloss over, or ignore the bloody fate of Florida's Protestant settlers? I've greatly enjoyed the wealth of information regarding St. Augustine's Spanish, African, Native American, and British colonists, even pirates who visited the town. Why, then, is it so rare to hear anything about French Protestants killed for their beliefs? (Some have said their faith was not the reason for their slaughter. To put an end to this myth, please read the eyewitness accounts and letters by Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, Father Gonzalo Solis de Meras, and founder Pedro Menendez de Aviles).
For a more in-depth account of the massacre at Fort Caroline, check out a post on one of my (now defunct) blogs: http://joyouslysavedbygracethroughfaith.blogspot.com/2012/12/december-30-2012.html.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com also has a great article: http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortcaroline.html.
You can also check out Fort Caroline's National Park Service site at http://www.nps.gov/timu/learn/historyculture/foca_history.htm although it's very unlikely that the fort actually stood at this spot . . . but that's another story.
(c) 2015 St. Augustine Fridays