S2 E11. SEA PART II – Charlesfort
Manage episode 284707013 series 2659594
Religious turmoil. Espionage. Mutiny. Bad accents. This is the story of Charlesfort – an early French attempt to establish a colony in North America.
Written, hosted and produced by Alix Penn and Carmella Lowkis.
Theme music by Daniel Wackett. Find him on Twitter @ds_wack and Soundcloud as Daniel Wackett.
Logo by Riley. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @tallestfriend.
Casting Lots is part of the Morbid Audio Podcast Network. Network sting by Mikaela Moody. Find her on Bandcamp as mikaelamoody1.
- Access Genealogy. (n.d.). The French Colony of Charlesfort. Available at: https://accessgenealogy.com/south-carolina/french-colony-of-charlesfort.htm
- Bell, S.M. (2012). ‘France’s Lost Colony: One of ‘Em, Anyway’, je parle américain, 17 May. Available at: https://jeparleamericain.com/2012/05/17/frances-lost-colony-one-of-em-anyway/
- Curry, K. (1928). ‘Jean Ribaut, His Personality and Achievements’, Florida Historical Society Quarterly, 7(2), pp. 159-163. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/30149685
- Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2020). ‘Jean Ribaut’, in Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jean-Ribaut
- Florida Center for Instructional Technology. (2002). Jean Ribault Claims Florida for France. Available at: https://fcit.usf.edu/florida/lessons/ribault/ribault1.htm
- Greene, H. (2019). ‘Charleston’, in South Carolina Encyclopedia. Available at: https://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/charleston/
- Harris, S. (1963). ‘The Tragic Dream Of Jean Ribaut’, American Heritage, 14(6). Available at: https://www.americanheritage.com/tragic-dream-jean-ribaut
- Meide, C. (2014). Historical Background Part I: French Colonization in Florida, 1562-1565. Available at: https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/14lostfleet/background/history-pt1/history-pt1.html
- Quirion, K.R.T. (2020). ‘The Story of a Failed French Settlement in 16th Century North America: Charlesfort’, History is Now Magazine, 31 May. Available at: http://www.historyisnowmagazine.com/blog/2020/5/31/the-story-of-a-failed-french-settlement-in-16th-century-north-america-charlesfort#.X0kAP8hKjIU=
- Revue pour les jeunes filles. (1898). ‘Autour de la Floride’, in Revue pour les jeune filles. Paris: Armand Colin. Vol. 3, pp. 576-587. Available at: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k5322731v/
- Saraceni, J.E. (1996). ‘Charlesfort Identified’, Archaeology, 49(5). Available at: https://archive.archaeology.org/9609/newsbriefs/charlesfort.html
- SC Picture Project. (n.d.). Charlesfort & Santa Elena. Available at: https://www.scpictureproject.org/beaufort-county/charlesfort-santa-elena.html
- Thompson, C. (2015). From Charlesfort to Jamestown: French and English Imperial Efforts in Early American History. M.A. Thesis. College of William and Mary. Available at: https://scholarworks.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6130&context=etd
Alix: Have you ever been really, really hungry?
Carmella: You’re listening to Casting Lots: A Survival Cannibalism Podcast.
A: I’m Alix.
C: I’m Carmella.
A: And now let’s tuck into the gruesome history of this ultimate taboo…
[Intro Music – Daniel Wackett]
C: Welcome to Episode Eleven, where we’ll be discussing the colony at Charlesfort.
[Intro music continues]
C: Alix, would you like to hear about Charlesfort?
A: I would love to hear about Charlesfort. I don’t think I know anything about this.
C: It’s a good story, it’s got French accents–
A: I love a Carmella-special French accent!
C: It’s got some religious turmoil.
A: Always fun.
C: It’s got espionage/
C: It’s pretty good– Oh, and it’s got cannibalism, obviously.
A: Oh, yeah [mumbles].
C: We’re in the early 16th century.
A: Oooh! We really are chronologically diverse this season.
C: [Laughing] We’re all over the place.
C: Yours is a nice way of putting it… Spain and Portugal at the moment are busy leading the charge colonising the [sarcastically] ‘New World’.
A: Ah, yes.
C: However, Philip II of Spain isn’t having too much success with the Florida area, actually. His colonies there just aren’t sticking. Plus his Spanish galleons keep getting attacked by French pirates in those waters. So he thinks, ‘You know what? It’s not working – we don’t need Florida.’ He decides that they’re gonna leave Florida aside for now; they’re not going to try and colonise that bit.
A: They’ll leave it to the gators.
C: They’ll leave it… to the French!
C: France see the opportunity posed by Spain withdrawing from the area, and decide they’re gonna get a piece of the action.
A: Seems like a trap.
C: [Laughs] Surprisingly not. Well… I guess a trap of their own making.
C: In 1562, the Admiral of France–
A: I’m so ready for this name.
C: Gaspard de Coligny, asks Catherine de Medici – who is of course the Queen Mother of France, we all know that–
A: She’s a Medici.
C: He asks her to finance a colonisation expedition to Florida, and Catherine is very happy to help assert a French territorial claim.
A: She says ‘oui’.
C: [Laughs] She does! She’s also keen to gain resources; to stick it to the Spanish; and also France at the time are having just, like, a teeny tiny little bit of religious turmoil with the Huguenots and the Catholics and the Protestants, etc.
A: Ah, who doesn’t love a conflict between the Huguenots and everyone else? Well, they don’t. They get massacred quite a lot. But then they come and make some nice lace in the East End. It’s why you get all those big windows, because they need to let the light in to do the delicate work.
C: [Surprised] Oh! Fun fact, thank you.
A: Fun fact that’s not about cannibalism.
C: Yeah! We have so few of those in this podcast.
C: And Catherine’s line of thinking is also that a good way to get rid of that problem is to set up some colonies in the new world, and then you can just send the Huguenots over there! Get them out the way.
A: So it’s sort of a reversal of Jamestown? Because in Jamestown you have all the Puritans being like ‘Please can we just get out of here? We want to start our own religious colony’. Which also goes to shit. But in this case it’s like, ‘No, we’re going to use you as cannon fodder and make you leave’.
C: Very similar to England and Australia, I guess.
A: The Huguenots really get a rough deal.
C: The man chosen for the task– Now, this is a– This is a Bills & Boon man if ever there was one.
A: I hope he’s got a beard?
C: Um, I don’t actually know about his beard status [Laughs], I’m afraid.
C: Captain [French accent] Jean Ribaut.
A: [French accent] Jean Ribaut.
C: He’s a Huguenot in his early 40s, he has powerful friends in France–
A: [Laughing] I really thought you were gonna say ‘powerful thighs’!
C: He has powerful thighs! And powerful friends, both in France and in the English court of good old Queen Bess – that’s Elizabeth I, for those of you who aren’t on nick-name turns [Laughs]. In one of the accounts that I’ve read of this story, ‘The Tragic Dream Of Jean Ribaut’ in American Heritage magazine 1963, written by Sherwood Harris–
A: 1963. This is gonna be good, historians were having a wild time in the 60s.
C: I just get the feeling that Sherwood has a bit of a crush on Jean Ribaut, ‘cause it’s very, very, um, complimentary. Here’s a small sample: “Ribaut was a man of deeds, rather than words… wherever he went, whatever he did, he moved men and caused things to happen.”
A: [Laughs] Oh, I’m sure he did!
C: So, we have just an amazing guy, Ribaut. Strapping, quite young still, yeah–
A: Massive thighs.
C: Massive thighs [Laughs].
A: I worry about us sometimes.
C: On 16 February 1562, Ribaut sets out from La Havre with two ships, a large sloop–
A: Love a sloop.
C: And around 150 sailors, cavalrymen and French Protestant noblemen and officers.
A: Wait, you say he has cavalrymen… Does he have horses? And if he has horses, have they now been bred enough to be full-sized horses, or are they the tiny little baby horses of the Crusades?
C: You know what, it doesn’t actually say anything about horses in any of the sources.
C: There’s not a horse source in sight!
A: That will have to remain a mystery.
C: Well, cavalrymen is my translation of Googling what the fuck this French word was– because it was, like, a French word that even I didn’t want to pronounce.
C: I was like, ‘There must be an English-language equivalent of this military rank.’
A: Is it ‘horse boy’?
C: It said they were a type of cavalryman. They have special rifles. So off they sail, and on 30 April, lookouts sight a protrusion of land around present-day Saint Augustine in Florida. They send out pinnaces, but return with news that there’s no harbour for the ships just here yet. So then they follow the coast north, having a look for somewhere to land, and on 1 May they enter the mouth of a lovely freshwater river.
A: Firstly, aren’t all rivers freshwater?
C: And yet it was specified.
A: And second point – I know the nature of the stories that we study means that things have to go wrong so that we can have a podcast… Well, that’s not why they go wrong, but you know.
A: Cause and effect.
C: What has our art wrought?!
A: Shut-up, Melville. But the bar is so low for me to be impressed these days; I’m just like, ‘They didn’t ram their ship immediately into a rock because they thought they could make a harbour where there wasn’t one. They decide to keep going and try and find a decent harbour – well done!’ My standards are so low.
C: I will actually say – and as you’ll discover throughout the course of this story – it seems like, apart from at the very end when it all goes to shit, they’re almost doing okay. Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that [Laughs]. Let’s see what happens. When they enter the natural harbour of the river–
A: The freshwater river?
C: The freshwater river. They are greeted by Native Americans on the shore, who help them to beach the boats. They have a gift exchange, they all make friends. Ribaut names the river the ‘River of May’ – it’s now called the St. Johns River – but he named it the ‘River of May’, firstly because it was May–
C: And secondly, because he was in a really cheerful Springtime mood, ‘cause he was so happy to find the river apparently.
A: I mean I can’t really talk, my middle name is also the month that I was born, but it does display a lack of originality.
C: They explore the area around the river mouth for two days and Ribaut plants a stone column to stake France’s claim to the land. I know that this is just the case with colonisation, but you get to a place; there’s a load of people living there who greet you and show you how to get there and give you gifts; and then you’re like, ‘Cool, so I’m gonna put this big stone column because this is my land now.’ Like, there are people living there!
A: It is colonialism, yeah.
C: The French then sail further north, having heard vague reports from the Spanish of a larger river up that way that’s even better than the River of May.
A: Even fresher.
C: Then they pass the present-day border between Georgia and South Carolina, but there they meet fog and storms and they have to head for deeper water to avoid being wrecked.
A: They don’t just head straight into the coastline?!
C: Yeah! When the storm quietens down a bit, on 17 May they manage to find a large harbour, which is [in a French accent], “one of the fayrest and greatest Havens of the worlde”. And they name it Port Royal, which is, of course, what it’s still called today.
A: I know that name!
C: I’m glad you know geography! [Laughs] They also get along nicely with the Native Americans that they meet here. Their nearest neighbours are the Orista and the Escamacu.
A: Do they also then claim their land as their own?
C: Yes, Ribaut then plants his second stone column, that he brought with him all the way from France, here.
A: Of course he does.
C: They’re soon visiting each other’s houses – well, obviously they don’t have houses because they’re on a ship, but they’re soon visiting houses; exchanging more gifts. One of the Native American leaders that they befriend, Audisto, is a real pal; he introduces them round to everyone in the area. Some of the gifts, for example, exchanged are a lovely chunk of silver ore, which is given to Ribault’s second-in-command, René Goulain de Laudonniére. So, they’ve found their location; this is where they’re gonna go: they’ve got nice neighbours; they’ve got a lovely river – everything that they could ever hope for. This is where they’re gonna put their colony.
A: And their column.
C: Their second column.
A: Their columny.
A: I can’t help but imagine, as our Bills & Boon hero, he’s there with these two massive columns, one over each shoulder, that he’s just been carrying from France. He’s not gonna do a flag – he’s going to go for a full, butch column.
C: [Suggestively] He’s gonna plant his large column in the land.
C: Moving on… The plan is now to leave behind a selection of men to look after the new colony, to establish it, and in the meantime, Ribaut is going to sail back to France to bring reinforcements. You know, farmers, tradesmen, women; the kind of people you need to actually establish a colony.
A: I’m getting the biggest Jamestown flashbacks right now.
C: There are some similarities. He has plenty of volunteers to stay behind, because they all just absolutely love it there.
A: It’s just the nicest river.
C: And in the end, around two dozen soldiers remain. All the sailors go back to France with Ribaut.
A: On the ship, which makes sense.
C: Yeah, it tracks.
A: Play to your strengths.
C: For the men who would stay behind, they construct a fort and name it Charlesfort. Or, I suppose [in a French accent] Charlesfort.
A: [French accent] Charlesfort.
C: [French accent] Charlesfort.
A: They way I do French is just to cut half the syllables out. Charlesfort? [French accent] Charlesfort.
C: Yeah, perfect. It’s named after their king, who is… Charles. The fort is stocked with food, cannons, guns, ammunition – but they don’t really need that, because they’re friends with all the neighbours. Right?
A: The American tradition starts early.
C: On 11 June, the ships leave to go back to France with the promise that in six months, they will return with colonists and with more supplies.
A: Sure they will.
C: It will not be six months. In fact, Ribaut will never see his colony again. But, he does make it back to France – we’re not at the cannibalism yet. He gets back to France okay.
A: Oh, okay, okay.
C: However, on his return, he discovers that the little bit of religious tension has escalated into a full-blown civil war. He returns to his native Dieppe, where he fights alongside the Huguenots against the Catholics, until the city surrenders in October 1562.
A: I’m gonna predict that doesn’t go too well for him?
C: Well, at this point he flees – sensibly – and goes to England, where of course he has friends in the court.
A: In high places.
C: He tries to interest Queen Elizabeth in supporting his new colony.
A: She’s got her own colonies to deal with, mate.
C: Well, no, she’s game. And she says, ‘Yeah, alright.’ There’s an expedition arranged with the entrepreneur Thomas Stukely. However, Ribaut soon begins to see just, like, a tiny flaw in his plan when he realises that Stukely is probably gonna try and claim the land for England, right? Like, why would the Queen send an expedition for the French? So, he– He’s thinking, ‘Not so sure about this any more’, and then the Queen, for reasons unknown, withdraws her support. Ribaut’s solution to this whole problem is to try to escape to France in a Flemish vessel. Some accounts say that this is with his own, willing men; others say it’s with four hostages; sometimes he’s stealing the ship that the Queen had prepared for him – in any case, he’s absconding from the country without the Queen’s consent. And he does get discovered and captured at Gravesend, and then he is imprisoned for two years in the Tower of London for espionage.
A: Eyyy! Why was he going back to France? They were going to kill him for being a Huguenot.
C: I think he was going to go to France, gather some peeps, and then get back over. It was gonna be a quick trip. He just wanted to get out of England.
A: Who doesn’t?
C: [Laughs] So he’s locked up in the Tower of London. Let’s go back to his friends back in Charlesfort, who are waiting for his return.
A: Let’s play ‘Who’s having a better time of it?’
C: [Laughs] Actually, the colony is getting off to a really good start. It’s under the management of Captain Albert de la Pierria, who is an experienced soldier. So I’m told. There’s plenty of food in the area: they’ve got beds of oysters; they’ve got wild turkeys; they’ve got deer; they’ve got birds; they’ve got fish. Loads of stuff. As Ribaut noted, [in a French accent] it was “one of the goodliest, best, and fruitfullest countreys that ever was scene.”
A: I’m wondering how they’re gonna turn this around to cannibalism.
C: Well, the thing is, the colonists think that in six months, all the professionals are going to return with new supplies – the people with the know-how. So they don’t make a lot of effort to, like, really get to grips with the land. They don’t set up any agriculture. They’re not actually that great at hunting, because they’re not the professionals: they’re just soldiers who’ve been brought there.
A: They’re just soldiers who are meant to be really good at killing things at a distance.
C: [Laughs] Killing humans at a distance. They rely on trade with the Native Americans for most of their food, and most of them aren’t – as I said – experienced hunters or fishermen, because actually all of the professional seawater fishermen went back with Ribaut to France, because they were also sailors.
A: On ships.
C: Yeah, makes sense. As autumn of 1562 turns to winter, however, the Native Americans find that their stores are being run low because of all the extra mouths to feed, and they have to withdraw deeper into the woodland to keep from going hungry themselves ; therefore cutting off the colonists and leaving them to their own devices. Which is fair. But the colonists are now struggling a bit, because they’re surrounded by food and don’t know how to get it.
A: Again, I’m getting– It was Jamestown? The terrible fishing trip?
C: [Laughing] With the frying pan, trying to scoop fish out the water? Yeah!
C: Eventually, a small party of Frenchmen strike out to find Audisto – you know, their BFF.
A: Their mate.
C: And they join up with his people for a celebration of the Solar New Year. So they have a nice party.
A: A nice celebration, or a ‘We’ll have a party, and then buzz off – we’re trying to survive ourselves here.’
C: Well, Audisto is a little bit further out, actually, than the immediate neighbours. And he does provide them with supplies – enough to last several months – and they can return to Charlesfort with them.
A: On the condition that they return to Charlesfort.
C: Yeah, ‘Please go back home!’ [Laughs] Once they’ve got the supplies, pop them in the storehouse – they’re ready to last the next few months, get through the winter, wait for Ribaut. Couple of days later, the storehouse catches fire during the night. Almost all the food is gone, and also all of the hunting and fishing equipment is also burnt. Not that they were making much use of it anyway, but it is now gone.
A: Well, isn’t that convenient? I’m saying that like I’m accusing us of setting the fire!
C: I went back in time and I set that on fire because I wanted them to eat each other!
A: CSI Charlesfort here. Arson? Done deliberately? Someone inside the camp? Someone outside the camp? Or just they’re that fucking stupid?
C: I haven’t been able to find any reasons or explanations for it. I– Sometimes things do just accidentally catch on fire. You’ve got lots of torches and fires around camp, you know, I guess it just happens.
A: Spontaneous storage combustion.
C: [Laughs] Yeah. So their next steps are to go back to the neighbouring towns and to beg for help. But no one has reserves to spare; they all tell them ‘no’.
A: And even if you do have reserves to spare, you’re not giving them to the people that – to the best of your knowledge – have just set all of their own equipment on fire.
C: [Laughs] ‘You guys aren’t managing those stores very well, I think we’ll keep you out of this.’ Another small party take some canoes south to find Audisto’s brother, Oede, who is the leader of his own community. And he gives them a month or so’s worth of supplies. They are really depending on the kindness of strangers here.
A: There’s just one family who are like, ‘Okay, we will look after them.’
C: [Laughs] But look, the supply issues aren’t the only problem at camp, actually.
A: I take it we’ve had the ‘they’re good and competent’ bit over and done with now?
A: What else is going on at camp?
C: Captain de la Pierria is a tyrannical leader. He’s just a dick. The drummer boy – who is with them, apparently – commits a “smal fault” (that’s a direct quote) and he has the boy hanged for it.
C: Then a soldier named La Chere does some kind of misdemeanour – it doesn’t say what – and in punishment, he is banished to an uninhabited island. De la Pierria promises that he is going to provide food and water to La Chere, but he doesn’t keep that word and La Chere is left to starve on the island. Eventually, there’s a mutiny, because people aren’t happy with this kind of treatment.
A: Can’t work out why…
C: De la Pierria is killed, and a man named Nicolas Barré takes command.
A: Quite an effective mutiny, then?
C: Yes! And actually, La Chere is rescued from the island in the nick of time before he starves to death – so they get their friend back.
A: I want to be like ‘yay’, but I want to hold that in now, because I’m worried about him. I’m worried about all of them.
C: By this time, those six months have passed. We’re through the other side of winter, but there’s still no sign of Ribaut. And also, it’s looking pretty hopeless at Charlesfort. The collective decision is made that the best thing to do is to try and get home to France.
A: [Groans] Oh God.
C: They don’t have any ships with them, and none of them are sailors, or indeed boatbuilders.
A: Any carpenters?
C: Well, luckily, their local neighbours the Orista are really helpful. Together – with a lot of help from the Orista – they manage to build a kind of vessel thing. They seal the hull with pitch and moss, the sails are made from sheets and shirts sewn together. The Orista provide rope.
A: Enough rope for them to hang themselves with, I take it?
C: [Laughs] Come on, after the drummer boy? Too soon!
C: They’ve created a vessel with which to travel.
A: They have created something which floats.
C: One boy, Guillaume Rouffi, decides to stay behind with the Orista and take his chances there. Now, I think Guillaume has the right idea there.
A: Yes, I rather think he does. I also love the idea of just, ‘We will build you a boat – please leave.’
C: I mean, what I’m taking from this is that everyone’s just really, really pleasant to the Charlesfort settlers, actually. Like, in Jamestown there was a lot of fighting going on– I mean, mostly because the Jamestown people were being dicks. But, you know, there was a lot of war going on.
A: There were a lot of tensions everywhere.
C: Whereas here, they’re all getting on really well with each other, and I think that [Laughing] the Native Americans just seem to feel really sorry for these stupid Frenchmen who can’t even find food for themselves.
A: I think it probably helps that Charlesfort has mostly kept all of their fighting internally. They seem to be mostly killing each other, rather than turning that out towards the Indigenous population – which probably endears you to them. Who knew? Don’t kill potential friends.
C: Weird! If you exchange gifts and act nicely and go to parties with them, they’ll like you. If you stab them, they won’t! In April 1563, the 21 other settlers set off for France – a distance of around 3,500 miles.
A: They are not going to make it!
C: The crossing would have been long and dangerous even for skilled sailors – and if you recall, all of those guys went back to France.
A: On a real ship.
C: [Laughs] Yeah.
A: With navigational equipment.
C: At first, the weather is very calm. So calm, in fact, that there’s not really enough wind to move them along, and they’re going very, very, very slowly.
C: Just sort of drifting. After three weeks, they’ve only made it 25 leagues, which is about 86 miles. Like, they probably could have just walked faster if the sea wasn’t in the way.
C: At this point, they realise it’s gonna take a bit longer than they’d thought to get to France, so they decide to start rationing their supplies.
A: [Laughing] Oh dear.
C: Three weeks of not rationing, though. Even so, the supplies are soon used up. The men have to eat their shoes and leather jerkins.
C: Classics of the genre. They run out of water, and start drinking seawater and urine. Again, we’ve seen this one many times before.
A: Can they come up with something original?
C: And their beautifully-built boat starts to leak, so they have to bail continuously to stay afloat.
A: I know they’re not still within sight of shore, but I do imagine they’re still within sight of shore.
C: [Laughs] With the Orista watching them, like, ‘Ah no, what are they up to now?’
C: This situation is made even worse–
A: Even worse.
C: A storm hits.
A: Of course it does!
C: And it damages one side of the boat. The men decide that they might just give up on bailing at this point, because clearly they’re just gonna drown, and they accept this fate. They’re gonna drown, full-stop. But one of the men insists he knows that they are three days from France. This is not founded on any factual basis; he is making this up. But anyway, [in a French accent] ‘We are three days away from France’. And he rallies them to keep going and keep bailing and to patch up the hole, and they manage it.
A: He rallies the troops – quite literally – and they’re gonna keep going, they’re gonna make it. Everything will be fine.
C: They’ve just gotta hold out for three days.
A: Hardly anything.
C: After three days, they do not sight France, or indeed any land whatsoever. And they are growing very very very very hungry.
A: A little bit peckish.
C: Already, some men have died and presumably been thrown overboard – I assume; the bodies aren’t with them anymore. But now, “in this extreme despair certain among them made this motion that it [would be] better that one man should die, [than] that so many men should perish: they agreed therefore that one should die to sustain the others”.
A: They’re gonna cast lots!
C: It’s unclear, because the sources differ. Either they cast lots–
A: Name drop.
C: Or they just go ‘let’s kill him’. Either way, the person who is killed is La Chere, the fellow who had been trapped on the island.
C: And this is why there’s a question about whether lots were cast, because this is a guy who was already not doing so well – he was already starving – and also who presumably did some kind of crime. So if you were going to be making value judgements about your friends, it might come to it, like, ‘This guy betrayed us that time.’
A: But I’ll counter with, if you’re going to pick someone to kill to eat, are you going to pick the person who has already been near starving?
C: A good question…
C: Not very fleshy. In any case, he is selected by whatever means and killed, and then his “flesh was divided equally among his fellows”… And eaten. Just–
C: Just to clarify.
A: As a souvenir of the journey.
C: Now, this is actually enough to keep them going. So before they have to turn to a second round of cannibalism, they do actually reach the sight of land.
A: Is it France?
C: It’s Ireland–
C: Close enough! The ship and its survivors – figure unclear, some people say around seven survivors at this point.
A: They did not only do one cannibalism.
C: They’re rescued off the coast of Ireland by an English vessel, and it just so happens that aboard is a Frenchman from Ribauts original company, and he recognises his former crewmates and makes sure that they’re treated nicely by the English. The healthiest of them even have an audience with Queen Elizabeth, because she’s thinking about having her own colony in the New World and she wants to pick the brains of some professionals, I guess.
C: I think they have a lot of advice on what not to do. She also wants some first-hand information on the situation in France. And so I imagine the conversation goes like this – er, this is completely made up. [Posh voice] ‘What’s happening in France?’ [French accent] ‘What are you talking about?’ [Posh] ‘You know, with the civil war.’ [French] ‘Whaaaat?’ Yeah, they still don’t know about the whole civil war thing.
A: Yeah, they think they’ve just been abandoned by their captain.
C: Yeah. Many of the Huguenot survivors don’t return to France because, you know, (a) they think they’re gonna be executed for being Huguenots, and also (b), they also worry they might be executed for being cannibals.
A: Double feature.
C: Some of them do return, they are planted right back in Dieppe by the English – right into the middle of a civil war. ‘Good luck’.
A: ‘Off you go.’
C: ‘Bye bye’. So, to finish off the story, Guillaume Rouffi – the young boy who stayed behind with the Orista – he continued to live in Charlesfort. He was the only Frenchman there for over a year. Finally, the Spanish sent someone to try and scope out their rivals; they’ve decided that they’re gonna come back to Florida and try again.
A: Fuck’s sake.
C: Charlesfort is razed to the ground and Rouffi is captured and brought to Havana and imprisoned. But, hey, he didn’t have to eat anyone.
A: Small mercies.
C: Gets freed from prison eventually. He attempts to return to the Americas in 1565.
A: Has no one told him that his colony…
C: He is aware of that; he’s going to do a new settlement, Fort Caroline. However, his ships are captured by the Spanish, led by Pedro Menéndez, and Ribaut and his crew are executed as Protestant heretics. Menéndez – aka Ribaut’s killer – actually gives a very nice obituary for him: “The King of France could do more with him with fifty thousand ducats than with others with five hundred thousand; and he could do more in one year than another in ten, for he was the most experienced seaman and corsair known, and very skillful in this navigation of the Indies and the coast of Florida.” ‘But I did kill him’.
A: ‘So he had to die.’ It was very considerate of the Spanish, as well, for killing him for being a heretic. Technically, the Spanish were then doing the work of the French.
C: Very true! ‘You’re a Huguenot? You have you die.’
A: I have to admit, I am quite impressed that they didn’t resort to cannibalism until they were at sea, and that their floating vessel that I am not going to call a ship actually made it across the Atlantic with anyone still alive on it. But I think they probably had to do more than one cannibalism.
C: I feel like, like I said at the start, they – in general – were doing okay. And if it just wasn’t for the fact that Ribaut got himself thrown into prison, they probably would have made it, right?
A: Ribaut is the true villain.
C: [Laughs] War is the true villain!
[Outro Music – Daniel Wackett]
A: Thank you for listening to today’s episode on Charlesfort. I am absolutely amazed that anyone made it across the Atlantic at all… In general, not just about this case.
C: Join us next time, when lightning strikes twice at sea.
[Outro music continues]
A: Casting Lots Podcast can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr as @CastingLotsPod, and on Facebook as Casting Lots Podcast.
C: If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more, don’t forget to subscribe to us on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts, and please rate, review and share to bring more people to the table.
A: Casting Lots: A Survival Cannibalism Podcast, is researched, written and recorded by Alix and Carmella, with post-production and editing also by Carmella and Alix. Art and logo design by Riley – @Tallestfriend on Twitter and Instagram – with audio and music by Daniel Wackett – Daniel Wackett on SoundCloud and @ds_wack on Twitter. Casting Lots is part of the Morbid Audio Podcast Network – search #MorbidAudio on Twitter – and the network’s music is provided by Mikaela Moody – mikaelamoody1 on Bandcamp.
[Morbid Audio Sting – Mikaela Moody]