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Margravate of Azilia

The colony of Georgia was created in 1733 to create a buffer for South Carolina, but it was not the first attempt to solve the problem between the English, Spanish, French and the Creek Nation. In 1717, sixteen years before Georgia was founded, Sir Robert Montgomery proposed the creation of the Margravate of Azilia. Today the proposal is best known because of an illustration of the colony created at the time, believed to be the earliest example of American art created by western land speculation.

Starting in 1670, with the formation of Charles Town (now Charleston), South Carolina, the English settlers were disturbed by neighbors to the south and west. Spanish missions, particularly the large mission at Guale (pronounced Wah-le) protected by a garrison of seasoned troops, were of great concern. Dr. Henry Woodward rallied the Creek to the side of the English and by 1684 the missions were gone. But not the problem.

To the west the French began an inland move from the Gulf Coast, as did the Spanish, part of Queen Anne's War (War of Spanish Sucession). The city of Charles Town was attacked. After the war ended the Creek inflamed the settlers with attacks across the frontier north of the Savannah River (1715).

Margravate of AziliaMontgomery proposed a colony of some 400 square miles between the Savannah River and the Alatamaha [sic] River in a tract entitled "A Discourse concerning the design'd establishment of a New Colony to the South of Carolina, in the most delightful country of the Universe. By Sir Robert Mountgomry, Baronet." The "tract" is somewhat of a propectus for the project. A margravate is an eastern European name for a small colony whose leader is a "margrave," (ruler) normally with some form of lineage; Azilia is a Mesolithic European culture. The map that accompanied the tract was an impressive piece of work and probably served as the prototype for other similar ventures. Each twenty-square mile box represents a district or township.

Montgomery's fanciful description of the land is as enthusiastic as his plans for a colony:

That nature has not blessed the world with any tract which can be preferable to it; that Paradise, with all her virgin beauties, may be modestly supposed at most but equal to its native excellencies. lt lies in the same latitude with Palestine herself, that promised Canaan, which was pointed out by God's own choice, to bless the labors of a favorite people. It abounds with rivers, woods and meadows. Its iron, and even gentle hills are full of mines, lead, copper, some of silver.`Tis beautiful with odoriferous plants, green all the year. Pine, cedar, cypress, oak, elm, ash or walnut with innumerable other sorts, both fruit or timber trees, grow every where so pleasantly, that though they meet at top, and shade the traveller, they are, at the same time, so distant in their bodies, and so free from underwood or bushes, that the deer and other game, which feed in droves along these forests, may be often seen near half a mile between them.

In the center of the Margravate of Azilia a city "three miles square" with the palace of the Margrave at the center. Around the city "a void," as described by Montgomry, sort of a green space, of a mile. The ambitious plan called for a grant from Lord Carteret the Lord Palatine, and the Lords Proprietors of the Province of Carolina. In exchange the new colony would pay a penny sterling for each acre of land. (There are 256,000 acres in 400 sq. miles).

After the green space around the city came the homes of the gentry, the landed class. In each quadrent is an area of 25 square miles of "great Parks." One contains horses, one cows, one sheep, and the fourth contains deer. Hunting is portrayed in the area with the deer.

Outside the noble's estates were farms to be worked by commoners, who after a number of years of service to the Margrave would recieve title to the land. Finally, the land of the Margrave himself. On the outside of the square a defensive, walled parameter of eighty miles would be established.

Inhabitants of the colony, as envisioned by Montgomery, would be indentured from England's poorer classes. They would serve as both citizens and soldiers, when needed, to protect the colony from the French, the Spanish or the Indians. Overseeing this citizen army and the society as a whole would be the landed gentry.

Montgomery's idea was never more than a plan.

The journey of the first colonists



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