The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762

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La Salle, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de (1643–1687)

Preliminary Studies of the Catholic Historical Society 2 7. Weddle, Robert S. University of Texas Press, Austin. VIII, No. Ideal for grades To read more online about Fort St. Louis and the excavations, explore the links below. Louis web page, Texas Historical Commission www. Louis, and La Belle. TBH Home. Click to see full image. Gilmore's analysis of artifacts from s excavations helped identify the Keeran Ranch site as Fort St. Photo by Robert Weddle. Evans, a geologist, conducted the first excavations at the Keeran site for the Texas Memorial Museum. Photo courtesy of THC.

Stalwart volunteers from the Museum of the Coastal Bend in Victoria. Archeologist Maureen Brown, conducts public education classes on Fort St. This secured for the French a strategically vital military, religious, and commercial presence among the Indians and a post from which countermeasures against English colonial trade efforts and territorial encroachments could be launched.

S pain's colony at Pensacola, meanwhile, remained weak and impoverished. While the French were occasionally forced to rely upon trade and cooperation with their Spanish counterparts, it is likely that the Pensacola settlement would have failed without aid and support from French Mobile. This was a fact that did not escape Bienville and his associates. This short-lived contest, in which Spain found itself pitted against France, England, Austria, and the Netherlands, afforded Bienville the opportunity, or so he thought, to extend French dominance over the Gulf Coast and westward into Spanish Texas.

Joseph's Bay between Pensacola and the then-abandoned Spanish settlement at St. Carefully placed just beyond view from the water, the work was nonetheless discovered by a Spanish patrol. Before the Spaniards could return in force, Fort Crevecoeur was abandoned early in Soon thereafter, realizing the necessity of and responding to Indian requests for the maintenance of a presence in the region, the Spanish began construction of a new and stronger Fort San Marcos de Apalache at St.

La Salle, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de (–) |

W hen news arrived that France and Spain were at war, Bienville had no need to conceal his ambitions for French expansion at Spain's expense. While this inglorious effort succeeded in ending the site's role as a mission, the triumphant French soldiers returned from Los Adaes with only a handful of chickens they had "captured" as the terrified padres and their charges ran frantically away. In , Los Adaes was reoccupied as a presidio.

Eight years later, Los Adaes became the official capital of the new Spanish province of Texas, a role it would maintain until it was abandoned in after having been replaced by a newly named capital at San Antonio. T his was the only time that the French and Spanish colonies would engage in armed conflict in North America.

For forty years following this isolated and ultimately inconsequential series of events, the French colonists at Mobile and their Bourbon Spanish neighbors enjoyed a relatively cordial, if somewhat one-sided, relationship. Later that year, a royal order established the name of the settlement as Presidio San Miguel de Panzacola. The inclusion of "Panzacola" in this place name lended official recognition to the familiar name by which the area and its bay had been known for a century. Thus the original native Panzacola population, whose name in Choctaw means "long haired people" and who had reportedly been exterminated by the Mobila Indians years earlier, was memorialized in history.

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S oon after the establishment of Pensacola at its present site, Spain's hegemony over Florida was interrupted and France's colonial tenure in North America was forever terminated as a consequence of Britain's overwhelming victory in the French and Indian War, called the Seven Years' War in Europe. Though the Gulf Coast region was spared from experiencing the violent and sanguinary events that characterized this struggle in northeastern America and Europe, the consequences of this conflict were imosed with frightful clarity upon the region's French and Spanish environs.

B y , France's defeat by Britain and its allies was virtually assured. In spite of this, Spain joined its Bourbon neighbor in an offensive-defensive alliance in February of that year. Within months of its ill-advised coalition with France, Spain lost its vitally important possessions of Havana and Manila to the British.

As neared its close, France ceded Louisiana to its woe-stricken Spanish ally in the Treaty of Fontainebleu. By the terms of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the conflict with a decisive British victory, France surrendered all its claims in North America; Spain's claim to Louisiana and the city of New Orleans was confirmed; and Britain took possession of Florida while agreeing to return Manila and Havana to Spain. L ater that year, British forces occupied a greatly enlarged Florida, which now extended from the Mississippi and Iberville rivers to the Atlantic seaboard. The terriory was so large that it was split into western and eastern provinces divided at the Apalachicola River, with the capital of West Florida at Pensacola and that of British East Florida at St.

S pain was slower and far less decisive in taking possession of what would now be called Luisiana. After a weak and irresolute Spanish attempt to establish authority in that province ended with the expulsion of governor Antonio de Ulloa y de la Torre Guiral during an uprising by local inhabitants, Ulloa's replacement, Alejandro O'Reilly, returned in August with a large military force of Spanish troops and firmly asserted Spain's supremacy over Louisiana. Soon thereafter, the last French troops and officials left the province.

France's colonial empire in North America had come to an end. In , Spain once again allied with France in its ongoing war against Britain.

In March , the governor captured Mobile after a brief siege. T he siege of Pensacola was a combined Franco-Spanish military effort in which a total of over 7, Spanish and French soldiers and sailors were arrayed against a greatly outnumbered British, Hessian, Loyalist, and allied Creek Indian garrison of slightly less than 2, men. Additionally, hundreds of French sailors and shipboard garrisons of French infantry under naval authority stood in reserve and on the eight French warships that participated in the campaign. The resulting explosion killed many of the redoubt's defenders and sealed the West Florida capital's fate; two days later, the British garrison surrendered.

Shortly thereafter, Spain's French allies withdrew from Florida.

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With this final and decisive victory over its ancient British foes, Bourbon France punctuated the closure of its presence in North America with a definitive statement. T he Compagnies franches de la Marine , comprised of infantry under royal naval authority, formed the backbone of France's colonial military establishment in North America.

Henri Joutel

While other French regular and colonial units served in the New World, no other forces served continuously or over such a vast territorial expanse. The classic button pattern worn by these troops from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico until the end of the French colonial period was a convex, rimmed, cast brass type exemplified by the specimens shown above. F rance began to mandate and utilize unit-specific marked buttons for its soldiers in While process began too late for these buttons to see use in North America before the end of the French colonial period in , it set a precedent for European military fashion that, in turn, was emulated by Britain in The regulation and design of marked buttons for the various components and ranks of the French armed forces progressed rapidly through time until a plethora of different button designs evolved to identify and distinguish every regular and auxiliary constituent element of that nation's military establishment.

B etween and , the French military establishment was reorganized six times. Each of these reorganizations resulted in the formation of new regiments, the dissolution or renaming of old ones, and the merging of others into consolidated units bearing either new or old names.

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Through all these and later changes, however, one thing remained constant. Each French infantry regiment was assigned a name and a corresponding regimental number, and that number was placed on the buttons of the men in the regiment to which that designation had been assigned. As a matter of standard practice but with a few exceptions, these infantry buttons bore their appropriate regimental numbers in their centers. Columbus, an Italian explorer working for the Spanish crown, originally sought a short water route to China that would give Spain an advantage in the spice trade.

The Western Hemisphere provided an enormous physical barrier, and in seeking passage through it, Europeans thoroughly explored it over the ensuing two and one-half centuries. The Spanish might have given up, but the vast wealth discovered among the Inca and Aztec empires whetted their appetite for more gold and silver and stimulated them to explore further in "New Spain. Columbus's arrival in the Europeans' "New World" has been viewed from a variety of perspectives by those who write history books. In this view, the first Europeans are seen as despoilers of a natural environment in which people, animals, and plants lived in something of a balance or symbiosis, if not always in real or perfect harmony.

From the viewpoint of the "conquerors," that is, the Spanish and French explorers, their chroniclers, and the many American historians who have since then studied their adventures, the Columbian discovery of the New World began an era of unprecedented economic opportunity for European kings and queens.

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They used the wealth of a new-found continent to finance their ambitions for political and economic control, building empires in Europe and elsewhere while spreading "civilization" to those who purportedly did not have it. The Columbian exchange, comprising what the Europeans obtained from the American Indians and what the Indians obtained from the Europeans, became a hot topic for historians in the last decades of the twentieth century. Europeans obtained mineral wealth, new foods including corn, beans, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, tobacco, and chile peppers , Christian converts, slaves, and other products.

After observing the Native inhabitants, the newcomers also began to be interested in new ideas, such as "natural law.

They quickly adopted the use of the horse, eventually the use of iron and steel, weapons including the gun, and various manufactured goods, as well as tea, coffee, and sugar. On the other hand, American Indians were introduced to epidemic infectious diseases such as smallpox, malaria, yellow fever, measles, cholera, typhoid, and bubonic plague. A new religion, Christianity, was gradually forced upon them. In turn, they developed strategies for resisting enforced cultural change. And so the course of human history in the Western Hemisphere was altered permanently by the arrival of the Europeans, by their international political and economic rivalries, and by their persistence in expanding their influence throughout North and South America, even into the early nineteenth century.

It took a generation or more for European explorers to visit the interior of North America for the first time. When they came, they were looking for gold and, as had become their custom, for Native peoples to convert to Christianity. Spaniards came northward out of Mexico to investigate New Mexico in the mids. These towns, with buildings said to be made of gold, quickly assumed an important status in the Spanish ethos. From New Mexico in April his troupe went eastward, looking for a wealthy place called "Gran Quivira," and they crossed through the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles before arriving in late July in Kansas at a Wichita village presumed to be their destination.

They found no gold. Ending his trip in disappointment, Coronado returned to New Mexico and then to Mexico in Interested in establishing a mission to convert the Wichita people, they returned to Quivira, probably in spring In they were attacked by a party of Kaw Kansas Indians, who killed Padilla and held do Campo and two others captive for a year.

After escaping, the prisoners fled due south across the center of Oklahoma, approximately paralleling Interstate 35, and across Texas to Mexico. Legend tells that the men commemorated Padilla's death by taking turns dragging an enormous wooden cross during the entire length of their journey.

Do Campo's description of the more direct route from Mexico to "Quivira" commanded some notice among Spanish officials, who later considered, but decided against, another expedition along the more direct route to search for the golden cities. Another Spanish expedition penetrated the interior from the east. In Hernando de Soto began an exploration designed to find gold and converts in "Florida. Soto died of a fever in May Early histories of Oklahoma credit his men with crossing into and exploring far eastern Oklahoma. Best evidence, based on geographical description, indicates that scouting parties from the Soto expedition might have come into far eastern Oklahoma via the Arkansas River.

However, in the s, using archaeological data, historians discovered that Luis de Moscoso Alvarado, who succeeded Soto in command, led the party out of Arkansas and probably across the southeastern corner of Oklahoma along a well-known Indian trail that crossed the Red River into Texas. A generation later, others became interested in the Quivira story. One purpose of settling so far north of Mexico was to provide a base of operations from which to seek the fabled wealth that had eluded Coronado.

Although historians dispute his actual path, it seems that he led a troop eastward, followed the main Canadian River across the Texas Panhandle, and then turned north at the Antelope Hills and traveled through present Ellis and Harper and perhaps Woodward and Woods counties of Oklahoma. An excursion eastward from New Mexico in by Capt. Alonzo Baca is said to have traveled "three hundred leagues" by Spanish measurement, about miles eastward to a large river that may have been the Arkansas or by a stretch of the imagination, the Mississippi. During all of these ventures, notes were made, reports were submitted to the proper authorities, and a considerable store of knowledge was accumulated about the land and people of the Great Plains during the early period of exploration.

More importantly for Spain, the activities of these intrepid explorers over a fifty-year period made it possible for that nation to lay tentative claim to the region, despite the fact that ownership seemed to offer little in the way of economic compensation. The vast area that contained present Oklahoma technically remained French Louisiana from to The "border" between the two New World empires was unsurveyed and vaguely defined.

Mythical Quivira notwithstanding, the Spanish crown lost interest in expanding to the northeast of New Mexico, viewing the region only as a buffer zone to be defended against the possible incursions of the French into New Spain's interior provinces of New Mexico and Texas. Claiming much of the vast territory for France, La Salle envisioned a New World empire based on the fur trade with Indian tribes as partners.

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  4. In Henri de Tonti established Arkansas Post, near present Gillette in southeastern Arkansas, and by the first decade of the s traders had built a network with tribes west of the Mississippi. Establishing themselves in Illinois and at Mobile, New Orleans, and Arkansas Post, French explorers traveled further into the interior of North America, opening relations with various tribes and also seeking a route to New Mexico to open trade with its Spanish inhabitants.

    The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762 The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762
    The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762 The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762
    The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762 The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762
    The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762 The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762
    The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762 The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762
    The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762 The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762
    The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762 The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762
    The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762 The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762

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