By: J. Barto Arnold III

Type: General Entry

Published: March 1, 1995

Belle was a small frigate less than fifty feet long and of about fifty to sixty tons that was given to René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle by the king of France. It was wrecked in Matagorda Bay in January or early February of 1686 while on an exploratory mission associated with the abortive effort to found a French colony. The wreck was seen by Spanish explorers searching for the French colony. See also SPANISH TEXAS.

Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–1958; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Kathleen Gilmore, The Keeran Site: The Probable Site of La Salle's Fort St. Louis in Texas (Austin: Texas Historical Commission, 1973). Henri Joutel, Joutel's Journal of La Salle's Last Voyage (London: Lintot, 1719; rpt., New York: Franklin, 1968). "La Salle Shipwreck Project," Texas Historical Commission (, accessed October 30, 2011.

  • Exploration
  • Vessels
  • Peoples
  • French
  • Explorers (French)

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

J. Barto Arnold III, “Belle,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995