French Pirates Around St. Augustine

By: Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources

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Although the French no longer had a permanent hold in northeast Florida, privateers remained a threat to the Spanish interests in the area.

The rivalry between France and Spain over northeast Florida was largely over by the beginning of the 17th century. Although France never again would make any serious attempts to establish hegemony in this region, French privateers remained a threat to Spanish shipping and ports, including St. Augustine. 

In 1686, chevalier Nicholas de Grammont, a former French Royal marine, attempted to lay siege to St. Augustine. Under command of the French privateer Nicholas Brigaut, another group entered the Little Matanzas Inlet at the south end of Anastasia Island and seized the watchtower at Ayamon, just 21 miles south of St. Augustine. This diversion was not reinforced in time and, after blockading St. Augustine for 16 days, de Grammont decided to sail away. 

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