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Guale, Spanish province in the state of Georgia. The Guales were a semiagricultural Muskogean people, organized politically into paired chiefdoms, who lived in southeastern North America. At the time of their first contact with Europeans, their territory stretched from Saint Andrews Sound to Edisto Island on the coast, and their language was understood for 200 leagues inland. Sapelo Sound, which may hold the site of Lucas Vásquez De Ayllón's 1526 settlement of San Miguel de Gualdape, was an area of dense Guale population.

Pedro Menéndez De Avilés visited the "Island of Guale" (Saint Catherines Island) in 1566 and was received as a rainmaker, but early Jesuit and Franciscan efforts at conversion were hindered by the demands of the Spanish garrison at Santa Elena on Parris Island and competition from French corsair traders. The Guale Rebellion of 1597, with its five Franciscan martyrs, was a civil war between Spanish and French factions that ended in the conquest by Spain of coastal Guale and its rebirth as a mission province.

In the seventeenth century the Christian towns of Guale served the presidio of Saint Augustine as buffer zone, breadbasket, and labor enclave. The extent of population loss in the province due to disease and fugitivism was concealed by an influx of Yamasees, whom the Guales sent to do their labor service. In the 1680s the trade rivalry of Charleston and assaults by pirates and by Indians with English firearms caused the province to shrink: the northern border retreated from Saint Catherines Island to Sapelo, then to Amelia. After Amelia Island was overrun by the forces of Colonel James Moore of Carolina in 1702, the last of the Guales fled to the presidio. Their few descendants were evacuated to Cuba in 1763, under the terms that ended the Seven Years' War.

See alsoSeven Years' Warxml .


John Tate Lanning, The Spanish Missions of Georgia (1935).

Maynard J. Geiger, The Franciscan Conquest of Florida (1573–1618) (1937).

Grant D. Jones, "The Ethnohistory of the Guale Coast Through 1684," in David H. Thomas et al., The Anthropology of St. Catherines Island: (1) Natural and Cultural History, Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, vol. 55, pt. 2 (1978), pp. 178-210, 241-243.

Paul E. Hoffman, A New Andalusia and a Way to the Orient: The American Southeast During the Sixteenth Century (1990).

Additional Bibliography

McEwan, Bonnie. Indians of the Greater Southeast: Historical Archaeology and Ethnohistory. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002.

Worth, John. The Struggle for the Georgia Coast. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1995.

                                     Amy Turner Bushnell