The Ribault Monument
The monument stands on
one of the highest points in
the Jacksonville area.
The Original Ribault Column
This lithograph of the original
Ribault column was made
from a sketch done in 1564.
Ribault Monument - Jacksonville, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Ribault Monument, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Ribault Monument, Florida
Ribault Monument
The monument, high atop St. Johns Bluff,
commemorates a similar marker placed nearly 450
years ago by the French explorer Jean Ribault.
A Marker of French Exploration
Located on one of the highest points in the
Jacksonville area, the Ribault Monument is a
silent reminder of the years when France
battled Spain for control of Florida.

The column is a reproduction of a monument
placed at the mouth of the St. Johns River,
then called the "River May," by the French
explorer Jean Ribault on May 2, 1562.

Ribault had been sent from France by
Admiral Gaspard de Coligny to explore the
American coast and locate a site for a colony
that could also serve as a place of refuge for
the country's Huguenot population. The
Huguenots or French Protestants, of which
Coligny was a member, at that time faced
brutal persecution from followers of the
Catholic Church.

With the King's approval, Ribault set sail for
America in February of 1562. Everyone
involved in the enterprise well knew that
Spain claimed all of North America and that
the effort by France to establish any foothold
on the continent would provoke Spanish
outrage.

After a voyage of nearly three months, Ribault
arrived off the mouth of the St. Johns River
and made contact with the local Timucuan
Indians. He erected a monument in the
vicinity to serve as a permanent marker of
France's claim to the American coastline.

Ribault then left the area and established a
short-lived fort in South Carolina before
returning home to France. The soldiers left at
Charlesfort quickly gave up the enterprise
and also sailed for home.

Admiral Coligny quickly planned a second
attempt and 200 soldiers, craftsmen and
some women were sent back to America in
1564. The colony was much better planned
and arrived at the mouth of the St. Johns to
find the local Indians paying homage to the
Ribault Monument.
Fort Caroline was built
nearby on the south bank of the river.

Despite a year of starvation and illness, the
French colony at Fort Caroline survived and
in 1565 Jean Ribault was ordered to return to
Florida with desperately needed supplies for
the colonists, as well as another 600 settlers.

King Phillip II of Spain learned of this relief
expedition and immediately ordered Admiral
Pedro Menendez de Aviles to expel the
French and destroy the settlement. Sailing on
the heels of Ribault's flotilla Menendez
reached the Florida coast and established a
colony of his own at what would become
St.
Augustine.
Learning of the Spanish presence, Ribault
sailed down the coast with his warships and
soldiers hoping to attack Menendez before
he could consolidate his position. The
campaign ended in disaster when Ribault's
ships were wrecked in a storm.

Cornered by Menendez and his troops,
Ribault and his shipwrecked survivors
surrendered to the Spansih, who promptly
put 350 of them to the sword as heretics to
the Catholic Church. Ribault was among
them.

The modern Ribault Monument is a 20th
century reproduction of the French explorer's
original column. It stands near Fort Caroline
in the
Timucuan Ecological and Historic
Preserve. The park area containing the
monument is located off Fort Caroline Road
and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
St. Johns River
The monument overlook
offers a spectacular view of
the mouth of the St. Johns.
Fort Caroline
Ribault's claim on the St.
Johns led to the building of
Fort Caroline two years later.
Custom Search
Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.