Timucua in deer clothing: Friendship, resistance, and Protestant identity in sixteenth-century Florida

Heather E. Martel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using the lens of an engraving of indigenous deer hunters in sixteenth-century Florida, this essay explores the formation of a resistant Protestant identity through the French Huguenot attempt to colonize Florida between 1562 and 1565. The French approached the Timucuan people indigenous to that region of Florida through a diplomatic strategy of friendship, hoping to win their allegiance against the Spanish and in favor of the reformed religion. Though their intention was to offer a more appealing alternative to Spanish coercion, the French also practiced dissimulation in these friendships as they pursued alliances with the richest and most powerful native leaders in the region. According to contemporary physiological theory and early reformist critiques of religious hypocrites, these real and feigned friendships put the French in danger of assimilation by the Timucua and at risk of drawing God's providential rage against them, especially when they ran out of food and became dependent on indigenous hospitality. In the minds of the more devout Calvinists at Fort Caroline, friendship with and dependence on the Timucua and relaxed leadership doomed the colony to failure. Artist Jacques Le Moyne interpreted the massacre by the Spanish as a providential punishment from God, and his account offered a cautionary tale that was meant to discipline future Protestant colonists and assure the elect of their immunity to the wilderness and of God's redemption among non-believers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-33
Number of pages21
JournalAtl. Stud. Lit. Cult. Hist. Perspect.
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013


  • French
  • Protestant
  • friendship
  • humoral
  • identity
  • resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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