French Pioneers in the West Indies, 1624-1664

French Pioneers in the West Indies, 1624-1664

French Pioneers in the West Indies, 1624-1664

French Pioneers in the West Indies, 1624-1664

Excerpt

EXTENDING from the eastern tip of Puerto Rico to the mouth of the Orinoco River lies a bow-shape archipelago cutting off the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea, which in the early days was called the Caribbee Islands and to-day is known as the Lesser Antilles. This archipelago is subdivided into two major groups: the Leeward Islands and the Windward Islands--the former embracing the islands lying north of Martinique, which is situated roughly midway between Puerto Rico and the Orinoco, while the latter comprises those to the south of it. Though the Spaniards with greater meteorological accuracy spoke of the entire group as the Windward Islands and applied the term "Leeward" to the Greater Antilles or sometimes to the islands off the Spanish Main in the southern Caribbean, the British government, which now owns most of the Caribbees, has adopted the former classification in establishing the two distinct political units called the Leeward and the Windward Islands. But in the seventeenth century, the period in which our story lies, the French were the dominant nation in the Lesser Antilles. From St. Christopher (popularly known as St. Kitts), where Pierre d'Esnambuc planted his first colony, they spread out over the archipelago, seizing in the name of their king those rich islands to the south of them--Guadeloupe, Martinique, Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica--while the English, who had likewise settled on St. Christopher, took possession . . .

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