French National Flag

French National Flag

(c. 1370 - 1604)

In 1523, France entered the race for New World territories. Its first explorer, Giovanni de Verrazano, sailed to the waters off Florida, then northward along the eastern coast. Whether he came ashore on Georgia’s mainland is not known, but France used Verrazano’s exploration to stake a claim to much of North American—including today’s Georgia.

In 1562, France began its attempts to colonize North America, sending Jean Ribault and a band of French Huguenots to Florida. On the banks of the St. Johns River, Ribault erected a stone marker with the French coat of arms announcing France’s claim to Florida. Thereafter, they sailed northward along Georgia’s coast to present-day Port Royal, South Carolina, where they built a fort. A second expedition of Huguenots arrived two years later and built a fort at the mouth of the St. Johns River. Clearly, the French flag, which then consisted of three gold fleurs-de-lis on a blue background, flew in Georgia’s coastal waters as a result of Huguenot colonization efforts. In 1604, the field of the French flag was changed from blue to white.

French National Flag View large image

French National Flag (c. 1370 - 1604)
Source: Ed Jackson