The Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida - Vol. 2

The Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida - Vol. 2

The Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida - Vol. 2

The Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida - Vol. 2


Incorporating the 13most current archaeological and historical investigation, this second volume of John Worth's substantial two-volume work studies the assimilation and eventual destruction of the indigenous Timucuan societies of interior Spanish Florida near St. Augustine, shedding new light on the nature and function of La Florida's entire mission system.

Beginning in volume 1 with analysis of the late prehistoric chiefdoms, Worth traces the effects of European exploration and colonization in the late 1500s and describes the expansion of the mission frontier before 1630. As a framework for understanding the Timucuan rebellion of 1654 and its pacification, he explores the internal political and economic structure of the colonial system. In this volume, he shows that after the geographic and political restructuring of the Timucua mission province, the interior of Florida became a populated chain of way-stations along the royal road between St. Augustine and the Apalachee province. Finally, he describes rampant demographic collapse in the missions, followed by English-sponsored raids, setting a stage for their final years in Florida during the mid-1700s.

The culmination of nearly a decade of original research, these books incorporate many previously unknown or little-used Spanish documentary sources. As an analysis of both the Timucuan chiefdoms and their integration into the colonial system, they offer important discussion of the colonial experience for indigenous groups across the nation and the rest of the Americas.


In the summer of 1539 the army of Hernando de Soto marched through northern Florida on its trek into the interior of the southeast United States. At the time, the northern portion of peninsula Florida, including the Atlantic coast, and southeastern Georgia were home to the Timucua Indians.

De Soto's march across northern Florida was the vanguard of a European invasion that sought to colonize the Timucua and incorporate them into Spain's rapidly expanding American empire. An integral part of the process of colonization was to turn the Timucua into loyal Catholic subjects of the Spanish crown, a peaceful population that would labor in support of La Florida, the Spanish name for the southeastern United States.

Subjugation would be accomplished not by the sword, but with the cross. Beginning in the 1580s, two decades after the founding of St. Augustine, Spanish Franciscan friars backed by the military might of Spain would venture into the villages of the Timucua to establish Catholic missions. For nearly two hundred years Indians and Spaniards would interact through the mission system.

In the end, the rigors of colonization would doom the Timucua. As a people they ceased to exist by the mid-eighteenth century. The Timucua and the other Indians of Georgia and Florida would be caught up in the rivalries of European monarchies, rivalries that spilled across the Atlantic Ocean into the Americas.

As a graduate student three decades ago, I was involved in the excavation of a colonial-period Timucua Indian archaeological site on the west side of Orange Lake in Alachua County, Florida. At the time, I believed that the history of those people derived from French and Spanish archives, that it was well understood, and that it would be archaeological research that would enhance what we knew about the Timucua. How wrong I was.

It would be anthropologist John Worth who initially turned my world upside down and made me realize that the story of the Timucua was quite . . .

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