, , , , , , ,

Richelieu at the Siège de La Rochelle by Henri de la Motte

Not for more…

Not for more than half a century did France again show interest in these new lands.


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 Siege of La Rochelle

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 Huguenots left New France or converted to Catholicism when the Edict of Nantes was revoked on 22 October 1685.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.

Failed Settlements

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.

The Wars of Religion

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.

Redeeming Myths

  • deported Acadians
  • Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow told not only Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, but he also wrote about Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie, a Protestant, who was French and an Abenaki Chief. Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie’s story was told by Longfellow in Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863). Castine, Maine was named after Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie, baron de Saint-Castin. (See Castine, Maine, wiki2.org.)

Scholars have now established that Champlain settled Quebec City under the supervision of Dugua de Mons. New France would be a Catholic colony, but it has Huguenot roots.


Love to everyone 💕

Lucie Therrien chante Au Chant de l’alouette

© Micheline Walker
5 September 2020