Sun King Medallion

Ornament for a French colonial-era firearm

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Recovered from the shipwreck of La Belle, this thin, fragile, gold Sun King medallion was a symbol of King Louis XIV of France.

Sailing under the French flag, explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle departed for the Americas in 1684 with four ships carrying 400 people. King Louis XIV commissioned La Salle to build a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi River, establish trade with Native Americans, and plunder silver mines in Spanish territory. La Salle's expedition failed horribly. He landed in the wrong location, lost his ships, and was murdered by his own men.

Many of the muskets supplied to the expedition were embedded with a gold sun medallion identifying the weapon as property of King Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King. The supreme ruler in France, Louis had been in power for more than 23 years when he financed La Salle’s expedition to North America. He provided La Salle with two of the fleet’s four ships (including La Belle), weapons, and soldiers. La Salle financed the rest of the expedition, borrowing money to provide the other two ships, supplies for the colony, and goods to trade with the American Indians.

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

Sun King Medallion Artifact from Matagorda Bay
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