Laudonnière, René Goulaine de [key], fl. 1562–82, French colonizer in Florida. After accompanying Jean Ribaut on the first French expedition to Florida (1562), he led a second colonization attempt in 1564, establishing Fort Caroline (named for Charles IX of France) on the south bank of the St. Johns River near its mouth. The colonists soon incurred the enmity of the Native Americans, many refused to work, others took to piracy, and finally most of them mutinied. Fort Caroline was in desperate straits when the English privateer Sir John Hawkins appeared in Aug., 1565, and sold Laudonnière food and one of his ships. Laudonnière was prepared to sail for France when Ribaut arrived with supplies, reinforcements, and an order for Laudonnière to return to answer charges that had been brought against him. His departure was delayed by the appearance of the Spanish. Ribaut sailed to attack them at St. Augustine, but Pedro Menéndez de Avilés attacked Fort Caroline by land and massacred most of those left there by Ribaut. Laudonnière, one of the few who escaped, finally reached France in Jan., 1566. His Histoire notable de la Floride (1586) was translated by Richard Hakluyt as A Notable Historie Containing Foure Voyages Made by Certayne French Captaynes into Florida (1587).
See study by C. E. Bennett (1964).
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