Allies and Adversaries: Understanding the Nature of Guale Political Organization Through the 1597 Uprising





Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Robert Thunen

Second Advisor

Dr. Denise L. Bossy

Third Advisor

Dr. Alison Bruey

Fourth Advisor

Dr. J. Michael Francis

Department Chair

Dr. Dale Clifford

College Dean

Dr. Barbara A. Hetrick


During the late sixteenth century, the Franciscan Order began sending missionaries to convert and instruct the Indians living in the region known as La Florida, (what is today the southeastern United States). In 1595, a Spanish ship bound for Europe sank off of the coast of present day Georgia. A local Guale Indian chief came to the aid of the sailors and reunited them with the Spanish governor. Later, the governor later founded five new missions in the province of Guale. However, the missions did not last long. Two years later, Indians murdered five friars stationed in Guale territory and took a sixth captive. This event became infamously known as the 1597 Guale uprising. Through a careful examination of the documentary record held at the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, Spain this thesis reexamines the uprising. Instead of looking at the uprising as a moment of rupture in Spanish-Guale relations, the thesis argues that the uprising reflects a broader regional struggle between both Guale and non-Guale chiefs for power in the southeast. Furthermore, the thesis questions the theory that the Guale were politically centralized under the authority of the mico mayor (paramount chief).

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