Potanou

Indian chief, born in Florida about 1525; died there about 1570. He was the king of the most potent of the three great Indian confederacies that existed in lower Florida at the time of the landing of Jean Ribaut in 1562, and his domains extended seventy miles westward and northwestward of the St. Johns River. The Florida Indians were more advanced in civilization than the more northern tribes, and were chiefly an agricultural people. Potanou was a legislator, and endeavored to promote civilization among his subjects.

The villages under his rule had wooden buildings that were constructed according to his plans, and astonished both the early French and Spanish advertturers. But he failed in his attempts to unite the Indians of lower Florida in a single great confederacy, of which it was his ambition to be the chief, and at the time of Ribaut's landing in 1562 there was a war among the three kings, Satouriona, Outina, and Potanou, in which the last seemed to have the advantage.

He was also the first to open intercourse with Ribaut, and received from him a present of a robe of blue cloth, worked with the regal fleur-de-lis. The difficulties that the French under Rene de Laudonniere met in their attempts to colonize Florida were due chiefly to the rivalry among the three kings, who asked Laudonniere's aid against their neighbors, and, being refused, became his enemies.

They afforded assistance to the Spaniards under Menendez de Aviles, especially Potanou, who complained of a raid that had been made on his villages by Outina, aided by a party of French under Arlac, a lieutenant of Laudonniere. But the haughtiness and cruelties of the Spaniards soon occasioned hostilities with the Indians, and a war began against the intruders.

Menendez de Aviles endeavored in vain to conciliate Potanou, but the prudent king could not be decoyed, and ordered that all missionaries and Spaniards trespassing on his domains should be put to death. This enmity, which lasted till Potanou's death, proved a severe check to the Spanish colonization of Florida. 


 


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