I’m sending a photograph of me. It was taken by my friend John on his birthday which happens to be three days before Christmas. My dear friend Paulina and I drove to Magog to celebrate. We brought cake, wine and other goodies. But John insisted on cooking the meal, including his version of a French Canadian tourtière.
John has white hair, but mine is grey. Paulina’s is black. We are ageing.
As for my long absence from my blog, it was caused by a password catastrophe. My memory is not as good as it was, so passwords have become a major nuisance. I live alone, and no one else uses my computer. Would that I didn’t have to remember passwords!
I have been working on the Canadian Confederation, but have yet to publish my post. It is difficult to understand why French-speaking Canadians could not be educated in French outside Quebec. New France was “conquered,” but did this mean that French-speaking Canadians had to be confined to one province in order to be educated in French.
These rebellions and l’Acte d’union were steps leading to responsible government and Confederation. The purchase of Rupert’s Land was reassuring. The United States was expanding. Besides, building railroads was the business of the day.
My computer crashed, so I had to put it together again from scratch. It was a matter of passwords. Microsoft’s employees would not help me retrieve my password.
We are returning to Molière, but not immediately. First, we will read one more post on Confederation. It is almost ready to publish. We will read two short plays by Molière, his La Critique de l’École des femmes (1st June 1663), and L’Impromptu de Versailles (the Fall of 1663). These are often considered Molière’s “theoretical” plays, but they are performed and constitute essential reading. After reading these two plays, we will have read all plays written by Molière, but some are not presented with an English translation.
For the last few months, I have been updating my page listing Fables by La Fontaine. France has a new “site officiel” dedicated to La Fontaine, which means that links no longer take a reader to the fable under discussion.
Canadians have honoured Sir John A MacDonald for a very long time. However, statues of John A. MacDonald are being put in storage and one, perhaps more, has been vandalized. He was a father of Confederation, if not the Father of Confederation. So, what happened?
First, as we have seen in earlier posts, when Canada grew westward, the White population settled on land they had appropriated from Amerindians on the basis of “conquest,” a disgraceful leftover from the “age of discovery.” Moreover, as we have also seen in earlier posts, Rupert’s Land, which Canada bought from the Hudson’s Bay Company, did not include settled land, such as the Red River Settlement, bought by the Earl of Selkirk, and lands inhabited by Amerindians.
As for Quebec, it seems it was drawn into a Confederation that also excluded it. John A. Macdonald was an Orangeman, a fraternity that was inimical to Catholics and the French. The people of Quebec could not be educated in French outside Quebec. Waves of immigrants arrived who would live in provinces other than Quebec and be educated in English. We have already discussed the school question.
However, recognition occurred 102 years after Confederation (1867) when English had become the language spoken outside Quebec. The French had been in North America since 1534.
In short, what of such concepts as nationhood and the rights afforded conquerors and, first and foremost, what of Canada’s Confederation? If Confederation demanded that the children of Francophones be educated in English, outside Quebec, their children were likely to be Anglophones. So, what of Quebec nationalism. Separatism is usually associated with Quebecers, but it isn’t altogether québécois. Not if the children of French Canadians had to be educated in English outside Quebec and not if immigrants to Canada were sent to English-speaking communities.
Sir George-Étienne Cartier was pleased that Quebec would remain Quebec. The population of Quebec would retain its “code civil,” its language, its religion, and its culture while belonging to a strong partnership. He may have been afraid.
I think the above captures the spirit of Voltaire’s La Henriade. But it also describes Voltaire who spent a lifetime combating fanaticism, injustice and superstitions. Our subject is New France in its earliest days. We wish to know what happened during the half century separating Cartier’s attempt to found a settlement and Dugua de Mons’ similar endeavour. This period has not been chronicled, but Huguenots had been involved in the fur trade. Our King is no longer François Ier, but Henri IV.
The contents of this post may seem repetitive, but they sum up Cartier’s era and Henri IV’s brief reign. More importantly, although New France has Huguenot roots, I am portraying a good king who was attempting to put away a divided Kingdom. He was assassinated in 1610.
Many Huguenots (French Protestants) or former Huguenots, were the founders of what became Canada. Dugua de Mons converted to Catholicism in 1593, at approximately the same time Henri IV became a Catholic. As King of Navarre, he had been a Huguenot.
Nothing suggests that Jacques Cartier was a Huguenot, but he settled Charlesbourg-Royal in 1541, a settlement that ended in 1543. François Ier (Francis Ist), had commissioned Pierre de La Rocque, sieur de Roberval, known as Roberval, a nobleman, to build the first French settlement in North America, but Roberval did not set sail until 1542. Although sources differ, Charlesbourg-Royal was settled, almost undoubtedly, by Jacques Cartier, rather than Roberval.
Jacques Cartier left France in 1541, a year before Roberval sailed for the New World. Jacques Cartier met Roberval, near Newfoundland, but refused to turn around to assist Roberval, as the King had requested. Jacques Cartier was not a nobleman, but he is the explorer who discovered Canada and named it Canada, after Kanata, its Amerindian name.
Francis 1st, King of France, did not ask Jacques Cartier to build a settlement. As we know, the person he commissioned was Pierre de La Rocque, sieur de Roberval, a nobleman. This may have been an affront to Jacques Cartier who had discovered “Canada.” Jacques Cartier lost 35 men during the first winter he spent at Charlesbourg-Royal, pictured above. By 1543, the settlement was abandoned. Then came a seemingly inactive period spanning nearly a half-century, but was it?
The settlements that survive are Dugua de Mons’ Port-Royal and Quebec City. As a noted, Champlain founded Quebec City, as Dugua’s employee. In fact, he and Mathieu da Costa were Dugua’s employees. So, Mathieu da Costa, the first Black in Canada, may have co-founded Quebec City, as an employee of Dugua de Mons. Mathieu de Coste is also Canada’s first linguist and he died in the settlement he co-founded. He was a free Black.
Had he not been a fur-trader, it is very unlikely that Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnetuit could have built a trading-post. The Huguenots had been fleeing the Wars of Religion. Henri IV reigned from 1589 to 14 May 1610, when he was assassinated, and events do not suggest that during his reign Henri IV encouraged the growth of Protestantism. As we know, he signed the Édit de Nantes promoting religions toleration.
When Henri IV died he had yet to finish unifying France and, given Richelieu’s concept of absolutism, Huguenots would have to convert. Richelieu’s notion of absolutism required that all French citizens practice the same religion. As conceived by Richelieu, absolutism consisted of one religion, one language, and one King. When the Siege of Larochelle began, so did the Anglo-French War of 1627-1629. England was defeated and the Edict of Nantes, revoked in 1685, unleashing a reign of terror a Voltaire could not accept.
Acadie had just begun, when Marc Lescarbot wrote and published his Histoire de la Nouvelle-France. He had been in Acadia for one year, 1607-1608. He also produced a play, leThéâtre de Neptune, in Port-Royal. His History of Nouvelle-France is not a bad history. On the contrary. It is a good story. But Nouvelle-France consisted of one settlement, or habitation: Port-Royal that was about to crumble to be reborn again. The picture above features Lescarbot reading his play. The artist is William Jefferys (photo-credit: wiki2.org).
Would there ever be a King of France so loved that a young Voltaire would praise him in long cantos, or “fictions” “drawn from the regions of the marvelous” (Voltaire, 1859)? There wouldn’t, except in “fictions.”
Paris vaut bien une messe. (Paris is well worth a Mass.) Henri IV
Pierre Dugua de Mons, Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnetuit and Samuel de Champlain did not travel to North America until 1599, and we have discovered that these men were Huguenots. Despite the Edict of Nantes, L’Édit de Nantes, an edict of toleration granted by Henri IV of France in 1598, Huguenots, French Protestants, could not escape persecution. Let us explain. Henri IV of France had been a Huguenot as King of Navarre. He converted to Catholicism to be crowned King of France. He is reported to have said that “Paris vaut bien une messe” (Paris is well worth a Mass). He was assassinated in 1610, and Huguenots were no longer safe in France.
The Siège de La Rochelle, which took place in 1627-1628, is abundant proof that Huguenots were endangered. According to Wikipedia, 22,000 citizens died of starvation at La Rochelle. La Rochelle had a population of 25,000. However, some escaped. Two or three of my Bourbeau ancestors hid in the Channel Islands, Jersey and Guernsey, waiting to sail to New France. In 1627, the Catholic Company of One Hundred Associates would rule New France, but it did not persecute New France’s Huguenot population. Huguenots left New France or converted to Catholicism when the Edict of Nantes was revoked on 22 October 1685. They fled to the United States.
We have discovered that our men were Huguenots and that they could be persecuted in France, despite the Edict of Nantes. As noted above, L’Édit de Nantes was an edict of toleration signed by Henri IV. Yet, Henri IV, a beloved King, was assassinated by a victim of religious fanaticism.
It was thought that Jacques Cartier, who took possession of Canada in the name of the King of france and named it Canada, did not found a settlement. But he did. He founded Cap-Rouge near Quebec City. It was a failure, but the remains of the settlement have been rediscovered. It seems that Francis 1st did not know about this brief settlement.
In 1541, King Francis 1st commissioned Jean-François de La Rocque, sieur de Roberval, a nobleman, to establish a settlement in the land Cartier had discovered. Cartier would merely accompany Roberval to North-America. However, Cartier left in 1541 and arrived in North America on 23 August 1541, a year earlier than Roberval. He met Roberval, on 8 June 142, but did not accompany him as the King had requested.
The King had given Roberval two missions. He was to found a settlement and was also asked to convert Amerindians to Catholicism. Roberval could convert Amerindians into Catholics because he was a Protestant or had converted to Protestantism. The settlement he founded did not survive. So, Roberval returned to France. He was not chastised by the King, but he and other Huguenots were murdered leaving a meeting of Protestants.
So, France’s bitter Wars of Religion all but prevented settling Acadie and Canada, New France’s two provinces. A few years ago, I contacted Britannica to say that Dugua de Mons was a Protestant and that he, not Champlain, was the father of Acadie. Could its scholars investigate? Britannica modified its entry and scholars went on to determine that Quebec City was founded by Champlain, but that he was Dugua’s employee.
Acadie fell to Britain in 1713, by virtue of the Treaty of Utrecht, but Acadians had not left. In 1755, a large number of Acadians, sources vary from 1,200 to 11,500, were forced into ships that went in different directions. Family members were separated and so were young couples who were engaged to be married.
Longfellow told that story in Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, an epic poem published in 1847. Acadians have transformed Longfellow’s Évangéline into Acadia’ heroine. Évangéline is alive. According to one’s sources, the name Acadie is derived from an Amerindian word, or from Arcadia.
In 1599, Pierre Dugua de Mons, Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnenuit and Samuel de Champlain traveled to North America on behalf of Henri IV, King of France and Navarre, also called le bon roi (the good King).Henri IV wanted France to harvest the rich pelts it could find in Northeastern America. Henri also asked Du Gua de Mons to create a settlement in what are now the Maritime provinces of Canada. Officially, Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal) is the first French settlement in North America. It was settled in 1604, four years before Champlain settled Quebec City. However, to be precise, Tonnetuit’s trading post was the first French settlement in North America, and it was located in the present-day Québec, one of the two provinces of New France. The other was Acadie. Henri IV had been a Protestant, a Huguenot, and so were the above-mentioned explorers.
Huguenots, a popular term used since 1560 to designate French Protestants, some of whom became involved in the Newfoundland fishery and Canadian fur trade, and in abortive colonization attempts in Canada (1541-42), Brazil (1555) and the Carolinas (1562-64).
Champlain was a secretive Huguenot, but Pierre Dugua de Mon(t)s wasn’t. As for Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnetuit, his occupation, fur trading, was that of a Huguenot. So, if his trading post was the first French settlement in the Americas, the very first French settlement in the Americas was a Huguenot settlement. In fact, although Champlain did not reveal his religious affiliation, he founded Quebec-City in New France’s Huguenot times. But matters changed in 1627. New France was governed by the Company of One Hundred Associates and its first shareholder was Cardinal Richelieu.
More permanent was the fur-trade. The French in Canada tended to their thirty acres, but many had to go to the countries above, les pays d’en haut. They were voyageurs or coureurs des bois. Coureurs des bois did not have a licence, so if caught, the pelts they had harvested were confiscated.
I love Pierre Chauvin’s trading post. New France would have its legendary voyageurs. They would be Catholics. But Pierre Chauvin’s trading post was a Huguenot settlement.
When Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnentuit returned to France, he left sixteen (16) men at Tadoussac. It was a settlement. Only six (6) survived.