About “Jean Ribault”

(C) Jon Smalldon 2014 - All rights reservedSometimes you shouldn’t show off your ignorance but today I’m going to.  Until I took this photo I’d never heard of Jean Ribault capitaine der mer, Dieppois et huguenot.  But it’s one of those searches for knowledge that’s led me down a path of understanding.  Or at least, if not understanding, then a whole bunch of new facts to win me friends the next time I’m in a pub quiz.

A quick read over his wikipedia entry seems to show a man forever on the wrong side: he fights for the Protestants in Dieppe and loses, he escapes to England where he meets Elizabeth I and arranges support for a voyage to America – and is then imprisoned as a spy.  He returns to France when peace breaks out in the religious wars – following which he takes a band of huguenots over to Florida to press the French claim for the colony.  He arrives in August 1565 and by the end of September the Spanish have over-run Fort Caroline and put all its inhabitants to death.  Including Ribault.  The location of the Fort is lost to history but Ribault has given his name to a High School in Jacksonville and a ride in an amusement park in Georgia.  To be honest, that’s better than most of us will manage.

And, in the town he could not hold, there is a memorial.  It is in the grounds of Dieppe’s chateau (which houses a rather wonderful museum showcasing its maritime, military and artistic heritage) and you’ll find it as you look around over the panorama of the town and out to the blue sea beyond.  Maybe as you wonder who exactly Jean Ribault is you’ll think to yourself: y’know, I’d quite like to be a capitaine de mer …


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