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16th Century French Colonies in the Carolinas and Georgia

Rare regional map of the Southeast, depicting the French efforts to colonize the Carolinas, Georgia and Northern Florida, from the third part of Pierre Du Val's Divers cartes et tables pour la Geographie ancienne, pour la chronologie et pour les itineraries et voyages modernes, first published in Paris in 1665.

Du Val's map is a fascinating retrospective of the history of French colonization efforts in the period from 1562 to 1567. The map extends from the Jordan River and Chicora in the north to the R. Scloy al R. Des Dauphins and Marracou in the South, centered on the May River and Port Royal.

Between 1562 and 1567, the French attempted to colonize the area which is now Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. This was a significant moment in the history of the region, as it marked the first European attempt to establish a permanent settlement in what is now the southeastern United States.  The French colonization efforts began in 1562, when a group of Huguenots (French Protestants) led by Jean Ribault arrived in the region and established a small settlement on the banks of the St. Johns River in what is now Florida. From there, they explored the surrounding areas, including the Georgia and Carolina coasts.

The French made another attempt at colonization in 1564, when René Goulaine de Laudonnière established Fort Caroline on the St. Johns River. This settlement also faced challenges, including conflicts with the Spanish (who claimed the region as their own) and the local Native American tribes. In 1565, the Spanish attacked Fort Caroline and killed many of its inhabitants, effectively ending the French colonization effort in Florida. 

The map depicts the region first illustrated by Cornelis Claesz in 1602 in his wall map Americae Tabula Nova Multis. The May River is shown flowing southeasterly. Cumming notes that the map bears a resemblance to Lescarbot's map of 1612, while Burden disagrees with this premise. The landing points of the voyages of Ribaut and Laudoniere are noted as Descente de Ribaut, 1562, Descente de Gourgues 1567 and Descente de Laudonier 1564 (from north to south).

Cummings has suggested that the map is derived from Marc Lescarbot's Figure et description de la terre reconue et habitee par les Francois en la Floride . . . , which first appeared in the 1612 edition of Lescarbot's Histoire de la Nouvelle France, first published in Paris in 1609 (the 1612 edition being the third edition, with the 1611 edition referencing the intention to add a plan of Fort Caroline). While Burden disagrees with Cumming's assertion, it would seem that Du Val's map was influenced by the Lescarbot map, as the basic style and treatment of the coastline is very similar and there seems to be no other comparable source for the configuration of the map.

There are two states of the map, with the difference being the hyphen in Du Val's name, which appears in the second edition only.

The third part of Du Val's Divers cartes . . . includes a nice collection of unique maps, illustrating often for the first time the results of a number of early French explorations in the mid-16th Century. The present example includes contemporary manuscript notes showing Apalache Region, Basainim R. and Grand [Lac] nomme, par les Apalechites Theomi.

Burden 381; Cumming 61.
Pierre Du Val Biography

Pierre Duval (1618-1683) was a French geographer, cartographer, and publisher who worked in Abbeville and Paris during the seventeenth century. He was born in the former city, in northeast France, before moving to Paris. Duval was the nephew of the famous cartographer Nicolas Sanson, from whom he learned the mapmaker's art and skills. Both men worked at the royal court, having followed the royal request for artists to relocate to Paris. In addition to numerous maps and atlases, Du Val's opus also includes geography texts. He held the title of geographe ordinaire du roi from 1650 and died in 1683, when his wife and daughters took over his business.