Spain had claimed Florida since Juan Ponce de León's exploration in 1512, reputedly looking for the Fountain of Youth.
Ponce de León named it La Florida as he explored it during the season of Pascua Florida -- "Flowery Easter."
In the following years, Spaniards explored and attempted settlements
- 1516, Diego Miruelo explored the Tampa Bay area;
- 1517, Francisco Hernández de Cordova explored southwest Florida;
- 1519, Alonso Álvarez de Pineda mapped the Gulf of Mexico coast;
- 1519, Ferdinand Magellan set sail to circumnavigate the globe;
- 1521, Ponce de León attempted a settlement near Charlotte Harbor;
- 1521, Pedro de Quejo & Francisco Gordillo landed at Winyah Bay;
- 1521, Hernán Cortés conquered Aztec Mexico;
- 1525, Pedro de Quejo explored Amelia Island to Chesapeake Bay;
- 1526, de Ayllón explored the South Carolina coast and attempted the settlement of San Miguel de Gualdape near Sapelo Sound, Georgia. As Dominican friars accompanied them, historians speculate the first Catholic Mass was celebrated in what what would be the United States;
- 1528, Pánfilo de Narváez landed near Tampa Bay with 400 settlers. After eight years of long marches through swamps and shipwrecked rafts on the Texas coast, only five survived. Four returned to Mexico and Juan Ortiz was a captive of the Indians for 12 years;
- 1532, Francisco Pizarro conquered Peru's Inca Empire;
- 1539, Hernando de Soto, who had helped Pizarro conquer the Inca, landed in Tampa Bay. De Soto found Juan Ortiz, who related rumors of gold in Apalachee. De Soto seized Indians as guides. crossed Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma, before dying in 1542 near the Mississippi;
- 1540, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado looked for the Seven Cities of Gold, exploring Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, viewing the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River;
- 1542, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailed up the coast of California;
- 1559, Tristán de Luna y Arellano attempted to settle Pensacola Bay;
- 1561, Angel de Villafañe attempted to settle Santa Elena -- Port Royal Sound.
Indian attacks, tropical storms, hunger, diseases, and failure to find gold, resulted in the failure of Spanish settlements.
Unfortunately, during this period, some Spanish conquistadors raided Indian villages, capturing and enslaving hundreds of natives.
During this era in Europe, whatever a king believed, his kingdom had to believe.
There was little freedom of conscience, as governments dictated the religious beliefs of citizens and persecuted those believing differently.
After Martin Luther began the Reformation in 1517, about 15 percent of France soon became Protestant Huguenots, who were persecuted by the government.
This escalated into the Wars of Religion.
The origins of this go back to France's Catholic King Francis I having contempt for the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Fifth of Spain.
Francis the First did the unimaginable -- he made an alliance with the Muslim Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent.
This was the first time a European monarch made such an alliance with a Muslim power, resulting in calls being made for Francis I to be excommunicated.
France and the Ottoman Turkish Empire joined in an alliance, laying siege to Marseille in 1543, bombarding the city of Nice, raiding the Italian coast, and invading Eastern Europe.
Francis I was originally tolerant of Protestants, but he soon turned to aggressively persecute them, having thousands killed in the Massacre of the Waldensians of Mérindol in 1545.
Religious persecutions increased in France with battles and tragedies such as the Massacre of Wassy in 1562.
This was followed by the Saint Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572, killing as estimated 30,000, instigated by the queen consort Catherine de' Medici.
From 1572-1579, Spain's King Philip the Second sent the Iron Duke of Alba to the Netherlands, where he committed the Spanish Furies, killings tens of thousands of Protestants.
In 1588, King Philip the Second sent his Spanish Armada to subdue Protestant England.
Providentially for England, it was destroyed by a hurricane.
Religious persecutions by monarchs and their governments led scholars to reexamine Romans 13:
"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."
But what if government authorities actually want to massacre you?
John Calvin wrote in Readings on Prophet Daniel, Geneva, 1561, that when kings disobey God, they "automatically abdicate their worldly power."
This is the same interpretation used with Ephesians 6: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord."
But what if parents order children to do something contrary to the Lord? Steal? Kill a neighbor? Commit adultery? Sell themselves into prostitution? Is the child supposed to obey that?
Obviously not. The qualifying phrase to obey is "in the Lord."
Calvin explained in his Institutes, 1536:
“He who does NOT make his reign subservient to the divine glory, acts the part not of a king, but a robber …
We are subject to the men who rule over us, but subject only in the Lord. If they command anything against Him let us not pay the least regard to it …
The king had exceeded his limits … by raising his horn against God, had virtually abrogated his own power.”
Calvinist Puritans scholars developed the concept of “popular sovereignty,” how citizens could rule themselves without a king by entering into a covenant with each other and God.
This was a century before Europe’s “Age of Enlightenment.”
U.S. Secretary of Navy George Bancroft wrote:
“Puritanism exalted the laity.”
Where did Calvinist Puritans get their ideas?
From the Bible!
What part of the Bible did they study?
The first 400 years out of Egypt BEFORE King Saul. It was a period called “The Hebrew Republic.”
Calvinist scholars studied this era of ancient Israel so much they were called “Christian Hebraists.”
They produced the intellectual underpinnings of the English Commonwealth, 1649-1660, and the Colonies of New England, followed by the U.S. Constitution.
The Edict of Nantes in 1589 provided a temporary reprieve, but it was officially revoked by King Louis the Fourteenth who resumed persecution with the Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685.
Government persecution against Huguenots for their religious beliefs increased after the assassination of Good King Henry the Fourth on May 4, 1610.
When Louis the Thirteenth became the French king in 1610, he had as his Chief Minister, Cardinal Richelieu.
Cardinal Richelieu consolidated State power, crushed dissent, confiscated lands, and laid the ground-work for the creation of an absolute monarchy in France.
Cardinal Richelieu destroyed the castles of the princes, dukes, and lesser aristocrats so they could not rebel.
Cardinal Richelieu imposed burdensome taxes, censored the press, and had such a broad network of internal spies spying on citizens that it is considered the origin of the modern government secret service agencies, such as the CIA, NSA, DOJ, and FBI.
Like current day special prosecutors, Richelieu had his political rivals investigated, prosecuted, arrested and executed.
Cardinal Richelieu was portrayed as a power-hungry villain in Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers, 1844.
Cardinal Richelieu's strengthening of the French state led to the absolute rule of Louis the Fourteenth -- the "Sun King," who is credited with saying "It is legal because I wish it"; and "L'État, c'est moi" -- "I am the state".
Louis the Fourteenth reigned over 72 years, 1643-1715, longer than any major monarch in European history.
France's power led to the eventual bankrupting and decline of the powerful Spanish-Austrian Habsburg Dynasty and Holy Roman Empire in Europe.
During the Europe's religious wars, indefensible injustices were committed by all sides.
Though millions tragically died in these wars, the numbers are dwarfed when compared with the hundreds of millions killed in atheistic genocides, socialist/communist purges, racial expulsions, ethnic cleansings, abortions, and Islamic jihads.
Persecution of Protestants in France led a group of French Huguenots to attempt a settlement in Florida in 1564 on the banks of St. John's River.
Though earlier, in 1534, French explorer Jacques Cartier mapped the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, the French Fort Caroline was the first French settlement in area of present-day United States.
Rep. Charles E. Bennett sponsored a bill on September 21, 1950, to establish the Fort Caroline National Memorial.
In 1989, Rep. Bennett recited the history:
"The 425th anniversary of the beginning settlements by Europeans ... renamed from Fort Caroline to San Mateo, to San Nicolas, to Cowford and finally to Jacksonville in 1822 ...
... Three small ships carrying 300 Frenchmen led by Rene de Laudonniere anchored in the river known today as the St. Johns ..."
"On June 30, 1564, construction of a triangular-shaped fort ... was begun with the help of a local tribe of Timucuan Indians ...
Home for this hardy group of Huguenots ... their strong religious ... motivations inspired them."
The French Christian Huguenots in Florida set a day of Thanksgiving and offered the first Protestant prayer in North America on JUNE 30, 1564:
"We sang a psalm of Thanksgiving unto God, beseeching Him that it would please Him to continue His accustomed goodness towards us."
Rep. Bennett related the colony's unfortunate end:
"Fort Caroline existed but for a short time ...
Spain ... captured ... the fort and ... slaughtered most of its inhabitants in September of 1565."
The Spanish Governor of Florida, Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, then founded St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565 -- the first permanent settlement in North America.
The Anglican King James I of England persecuted separatist Pilgrim Christians, saying:
"I will make them conform themselves or else I will harry them out of the land or else do worse."
Pilgrims fled to Holland in 1607.
When Spain threatened to invade Holland, the Pilgrims decided to flee again.
They considered sailing to Guyana in South America, as they heard of its tropical climate.
This idea was rejected, though, when they remembered how close Guyana was to the "Spanish Main," the area of the Caribbean Sea controlled by Spain, and how Spanish soldiers massacred the French settlement of Fort Caroline, Florida.
Pilgrim Governor William Bradford wrote in Of Plymouth Plantation:
"Some ... had thoughts and were earnest for Guiana ... Those for Guiana alleged that the country was rich, fruitful, and blessed with a perpetual spring ..."
"... but to this it was answered, that it was out of question ... If they should there live, and do well, the jealous Spaniard would never suffer them long, but would displant or overthrow them, as he did the FRENCH in FLORIDA."
After the Spanish, the early settlements in North America were:
- 1607 - English Colony of Jamestown;
- 1608 - French Colony of Quebec;
- 1620 - Pilgrim Colony of Massachusetts;
- 1624 - Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam -- New York; and
- 1638 - Swedish Colony of New Sweden -- Delaware & New Jersey.
A few Ottoman Sultans considered attempting colonies in the New World, but the destruction of their Ottoman navy at the Battle of Lepanto by Spain and the Holy League in 1571 ended Islamic expansion westward, though Islam continued to colonize into Africa and the Far East.
Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations, 1776:
"The Spaniards, by virtue of the first discovery, claimed all America as their own, and ... such was ... the terror of their name, that the greater part of the other nations of Europe were afraid to establish themselves in any other part of that great continent ...
But ... the defeat ... of their Invincible Armada -- 1588 -- ... put it out of their power to obstruct any longer the settlements of the other European nations.
In the course of the 17th century ... English, French, Dutch, Danes, and Swedes ... attempted to make some settlements in the new world."
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