The French originally came to Amelia Island 450 years ago and they are coming back this April! Amelia Island has flown under eight different flags, the first being that of the French. Jean Ribault landed on the island in 1562, and named it “Isle de Mai.” 2012 marks the 450th anniversary of his arrival.
Ribault first arrived near present-day Jacksonville claiming the territory for France, before heading north. Rene de Laudonniere erected a military fort at this spot near Jacksonville in 1564, naming it Fort Caroline. The Spanish defeated the French at Fort Caroline in 1565, and established St. Augustine immediately thereafter. To put this into perspective, the French landing in Jacksonville in 1562 predates the settling of Jamestown by 45 years and it occurred 58 years before the Mayflower arrived.