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.”
The Jesuits or Society of Jesus was founded in 1540. Jesuits were therefore a new order that could have helped curb the spread of Protestantism. (See « La Querelle entre jansénistes et jésuites », Jésuites de la province de France. FR) Changes were needed, but not to the point of using moral irresponsibility to benefit Roman Catholicism. Extremes are extremes.
In 1653, Pope Innocent X issued the bull Cum Occasionum condemning as heretical five propositions contained in Cornelius Jansen’s Augustinus. The Augustinus, a long work that is considered the Jansenists’ “book,” was published posthumously in 1640. It should be noted, however, that the Augustinus was the work of Cornelius Jansen and that it was published several years after he and Jean Duvergier de Hauranne were students in Leuven, Holland. In fact, by 1640, the two friends had long been separated. Cornelius Jansen had spent a few years in France after he and Jean Duvergier graduated with a degree in theology from the University of Leuven. Moreover, as noted above, the book was published two years after Cornelius Jansen’s death. Cornelius Jansen died in an epidemic.
From 1637 until 1660, Cistercians operated a school at Port-Royal-des-Champs. Pascal had been a student at the Petites Écoles de Port-Royal, excellent schools because of the intellectual calibre of its teachers, messieurs, and its small classes. Jean Racine, the author of Phèdre(1778), had also studied at the Petites Écoles de Port-Royal. Later, Pascal himself would be an educator. He wrote a new method of teaching children to read.
As a former pupil of Port-Royal-des-Champs, Pascal, who sympathized with the Jansenists, defended the Port-Royal abbeys threatened by the bull Cum Occasionum. However, his motivation was, to a large extent, loyalty to his former teachers, the nuns of Port-Royal and to its messieurs or solitaires, teachers and men who retreated to one of the Port-Royal abbeys. More importantly, however, Pascal attacked the moral laxity of Jesuit casuistry.
However, in his Provincial Letters, Pascal did discuss the matter of grace, albeit briefly. According to the Jansenists, humans could not ensure their salvation. Jansenists believed in predestination. It had been and remains a Roman Catholic’s perception, that although humans are born stained with the original sin, baptism and grâce suffisante FR make it possible for them to be saved through good deeds, which is what I was taught. Jansenists differed. In order to be saved, humans had to be granted grâce efficace FR or efficacious grace and God chose those on whom he would bestow efficacious grace.
Saint Augustine and Pelagius
I suspect that initially St. Augustine, or Augustine or Hippo (13 November 354 – 28 August 430), believed humans could expiate the original sin, if granted grâcesuffisante. French 17th-century Jansenists maintained, however, that grâce efficace or efficacious grace, was required to be saved. This was cause for despair as it negated free will.
The quarrel between Jansenists and Jesuits therefore echoed an earlier quarrel between St. Augustine and Pelagius (fl. c. 390 – 418). Pelagius had opposed predestination. In fact, according to Wikipedia’s entry on the Church Fathers, “early Church Fathers consistently [upheld] the freedom of human choice. They consistently upheld the freedom of human choice.” Initially, Augustine of Hippo may have understood predestination as no more than foreknowledge. God as God knew how humans would live. This is what I was taught as a child. However, St. Augustine would grow to support predestination as a denial of free will, hence the title of Cornelius Jansen’s Augustinus, the Jansenists’ book.
Pascal’s Target: Casuistry
The Lettres provinciales did support the doctrines of Jansenism, but Pascal’s main target was the moral irresponsibility advocated by the Jesuits, or casuistry. Pascal also emphasized the Jesuit’s rejection of the teachings of the Church Fathers which, by extension, was a rejection of Roman Catholicism in its totality. This was not the intention of the Jesuits.
After speaking with a Jesuit, our naïve character, visits a neighbour who is known as an opponent of Jansenism, but who turns out to share the Jansenist’s view of grace and predestination.
“To ascertain the matter with certainty, I repaired to my neighbor, M. N-, doctor of Navarre, who, as you are aware, is one of the keenest opponents of the Jansenists, and, my curiosity having made me almost as keen as himself, I asked him if they would not formally decide at once that ‘grace is given to all men,’ and thus set the question at rest. But he gave me a sore rebuff and told me that that was not the point; that there were some of his party who held that grace was not given to all; that the examiners themselves had declared, in a full assembly of the Sorbonne, that that opinion was problematical; and that he himself held the same sentiment, which he confirmed by quoting to me what he called that celebrated passage of St. Augustine: ‘We know that grace is not given to all men.’” (Letter I/1)
In my post on Pascal’s Provincial Letters, I wrote that we would take a closer look at the methods used by Jesuit casuistry. We will. A few examples are needed, but what I would like to bring to the fore are:
the Jesuits’ rejection of the doctrines of the Church Fathers,
the fact that Jesuits tolerated duels and homicides, and
Conversion of Saint AugustineFra Angelico(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Augustine of Hippo wrote that original sin is transmitted by concupiscence and enfeebles freedom of the will without destroying it. Sandro Botticelli (Caption and photo credit: Wikipedia)
“We leave the fathers [Church Fathers],” resumed the monk, “to those who deal with positive divinity. As for us, who are the directors of conscience, we read very little of them and quote only the modern casuists.” (p. 40) (Letter VI/6)
“For example, three popes have decided that monks who are bound by a particular vow to a Lenten life cannot be absolved from it even though they should become bishops. And yet Diana avers that notwithstanding this decision they are absolved. ‘And how does he reconcile that?’ said I. By the most subtle of all the modern methods, and by the nicest possible application of probability,” replied the monk. (p. 44) (Letter VI/6)
However, if our narrator or candid character refers to an authority, he is trivialized and disapproves:
“When Diana [Antonino Diana] quotes with approbation the sentiments of Vasquez, when he finds them probable, and ‘very convenient for rich people,’ as he says in the same place, he is no slanderer, no falsifier, and we hear no complaints of misrepresenting his author; whereas, when I cite the same sentiments of Vasquez, though without holding him up as a phoenix, I am a slanderer, a fabricator, a corrupter of his maxims.” (p. 109) (Letter XII/12)
More on Probabilisme
‘A person may do what he considers allowable according to a probable opinion, though the contrary may be the safer one. The opinion of a single grave doctor is all that is requisite.’ (p. 39) (Letter VI/6)
“Can you doubt it?” he replied, ‘We have bound them, sir, to absolve their penitents who act according to probable opinions, under the pain of mortal sin, to secure their compliance ‘under the pain of mortal sin’”
‘When the penitent, says Father Bauny,’ follows a probable opinion, the confessor is bound to absolve him, though his opinion should differ from that of his penitent.’” (p. 40) (Letter VI/6)
The justification of homicide is particularly surprising.
(naïve character, italics)
“Be this as it may, however, it seems that, according to Sanchez, a man may freely slay (I do not say treacherously, but only insidiously and behind his back) a calumniator, for example, who prosecutes us at law?” (p. 56) (Letter VII/7)
“Certainly he may,” returned the monk, “always, however, in the way of giving a right direction to the intention: you constantly forget the main point. Molina supports the same doctrine; and what is more, our learned brother Reginald maintains that we may despatch the false witnesses whom he summons against us. And, to crown the whole, according to our great and famous fathers Tanner and Emanuel Sa, it is lawful to kill both the false witnesses and the judge himself, if he has had any collusion with them. Here are Tanner’s very words: ‘Sotus and Lessius think that it is not lawful to kill the false witnesses and the magistrate who conspire together to put an innocent person to death; but Emanuel Sa and other authors with good reason impugn that sentiment, at least so far as the conscience is concerned.’ And he goes on to show that it is quite lawful to kill both the witnesses and the judge.” (p. 56) (Letter VII/7)
“And, in point of fact, is it not certain that the man who has received a buffet on the ear is held to be under disgrace, until he has wiped off the insult with the blood of his enemy?” (p. 56) (Letter VII/7)
“Nay,” he continued, “it is allowable to prevent a buffet, by killing him that meant to give it, if there be no other way to escape the insult. This opinion is quite common with our fathers. (p. 56) (Letter VII/7)
“But, father, may not one be allowed to kill for something still less? Might not a person so direct his intention as lawfully to kill another for telling a lie, for example?” (p. 58) (Letter VII/7)
“He may,” returned the monk; “and according to Father Baldelle, quoted by Escobar, ‘you may lawfully take the life of another for saying, “You have told a lie”; if there is no other way of shutting his mouth.’ The same thing may be done in the case of slanders. (p. 58) (Letter VII/7)
(naïve character, italics)
“Lessius, among others, maintains that ‘it is lawful to steal, not only in a case of extreme necessity, but even where the necessity is grave, though not extreme.’” (Letter VIII/8)
“For after all, now, is it not a violation of the law of charity, and of our duty to our neighbour, to deprive a man of his property in order to turn it to our own advantage? Such, at least, is the way I have been taught to think hitherto.” (Letter VIII/8)
“That will not always hold true,” replied the monk; “for our great Molina has taught us that ‘the rule of charity does not bind us to deprive ourselves of a profit, in order thereby to save our neighbour from a corresponding loss.’” (Letter VIII/8)
In his letter XIII, Pascal repeats much of what he wrote in Letter VII/7. He fully realizes that he is repeating. As an educator, he emphasized the need to repeat, a need that is consistent with the modern theory of information. It is part of his “art de persuader,” the art of persuasion. One has to read Pascal’s Pensées, published posthumously, to grasp Pascal’s art de persuader.
There is so much to discuss, but a post is a post. However the book, Les Provinciales, is easy to read and short. The fate of Jansénisme resembles the fate of the Huguenots in France. Jansénisme was not a religion; it was a mere movement. But it was condemned by the papal bull Unigenitus, issued by Clement XI on 8 September 1713. Absolutism meant: one king, one language and one religion.
Pascal discusses numerous subjects, such as duels and usury, in his examination of the moral laxity of 17th-century French Jesuits.
In closing, I would like to point out that the quarrel between Jansenists and Jesuits in 17th-century France is one episode, just one, in the history of the Jesuits and that both Jesuit casuistry and Jansenism were condemned.
To the left is a picture of French settlers spending their second winter in Acadia. They are at Port-Royal, now Annapolis Royal. In the winter of 1604-1605, Du Gua lost half his men to scurvy. So it came that Champlain founded l’Ordre de Bon Temps. Men died, but “[w]e passed this winter most joyously, & fared lavishly,” wrote Champlain.[i]
There were fatalities during the winter of 1605-1606 but most men survived and Champlain’s Ordre du Bon-Temps may have helped. However, “[t]he Order’s practices were established by the first Chief Steward Marc Lescarbot.” Lescarbot, a lawyer, also established a theater: le Théâtre de Neptune, and wrote and published a History of New France (Histoire de la Nouvelle-France), in 1609.
However, Champlain is not the founder of Acadia. Pierre du Gua de Monts or Mons is the person who raised the funds from various merchants to travel to North America. He organized the expedition to the current Atlantic Ocean, or more precisely, Nova Scotia.[iii] As for Champlain, as written above, he was Du Gua de Monts‘[iv] cartographer and his lieutenant. He, Du Gua, and their men first settled on Isle Sainte-Croix, but moved to Port-Royal, today’s Annapolis Royal, where the Order of Good Cheers was founded and where Acadie (from Acadia or algatig, MicMac) rooted itself.
Champlain: a lack of records
We have very little information about the father of the nation. In fact, until the early 1600s, little can be ascertained concerning Samuel Champlain or Samuel de Champlain(Wikipedia). “As the parish registers of Brouage have been destroyed by fire, nothing is known of the date of Champlain’s birth or of his baptism; he may have been born c. 1570, perhaps in 1567.” (DCB) According to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography(DCB), “Champlain claimed to be from Brouage in the title of his 1603 book, and to be Saintongeois in the title of his second book (1613).” In short, because of the fire in Brouage and conflicting statements on the part of Champlain, we do not know with certainty
where Champlain was born;
in which year he was born;
whether or not he was baptized a Catholic or a Protestant;
However, Champlain left an account of his life as explorer, settler and fur trader. But was he or was he not a member of the nobility? “His 1603 volume gives ‘Samuel Champlain’ and the dedication to Admiral Montmorency is signed ‘S. Champlain,’ whereas in the privilège, in the same edition, there are the words ‘Sieur de Champlain,’ just as in the marriage contract of 1610 and in the 1613, 1619, and 1632 volumes.” (DCB) Again, as is the case with his place and date of birth and his religion, Champlain confuses posterity.
In 1610, at the age of forty, Champlain travelled to France to marry 12 year-old Hélène Boullé, a Protestant. That is on record. However, that marriage seems to have been a mere contract. After the wedding, Hélène remained in France because she was too young to be a wife. But Champlain collected 4,500 out of a 6,000-livre dowry the day following the wedding.
Hélène did sail to Canada in 1620 (DCB) but she spent very little time in her husband’s country of adoption and no mention is made of children born to her and Samuel. Hélène converted to Catholicism at the age of 14 and, about ten years after Champlain’s death (25 December 1635), she entered a convent, that of the Ursuline Order in Paris, which had long been her wish.
Given his name, Samuel, a protestant name, the two years he spent at Henri IV’s court in the early 1600s, his marriage to Hélène Boullé, his friendships, it would appear Champlain was a Protestant. However, it may have been in his best interest to call himself a Catholic. There was no official conversion, but he did as Henri IV did.
It had also been in Henri IV’s best interest to convert to Catholicism. His official mistress as of 1591, Gabrielle d’Estrées, told Henri IV that converting to Catholicism may lead to his being crowned King of France. He had been King of France since 1589, when Henri III (a Valois King) died, but had yet to be crowned.
On July 25, 1593, Henri IV (13 December 1553 – 14 May 1610), King of Navarre, is reported to have said that “Paris (being King of France) is well worth a mass,” or « Paris vaut bien une messe. » Gabrielle was right. He was crowned King of France on 27 February 1594.
As for Champlain’s religion, according to Wikipedia, “he [Champlain] belonged to either a Protestant family, or a tolerant Roman Catholic one, since Brouage was most of the time a Catholic city in a Protestant region, and his Old Testament first name (Samuel) was not usually given to Catholic children.” Moreover, why did he settle in North America? Henri IV had converted and married a Medici, but he was nevertheless assassinated.
to Lieutenant-General Pierre Du Gua de Monts 1608–12,
to Lieutenant-General Bourbon de Soissons in 1612,
to Viceroy Bourbon de Condé 1612–20,[v]
to Viceroy de Montmorency 1620–25,
to Viceroy de Ventadour 1625–27.
By looking at the above list, we have a list of the persons who governed New France officially, although they may not have travelle to New France, until the Seigneurial System was put into place (1727) and the Compagnie des Cent-Associés chartered, in 1628. At this point, Richelieu took control of New France, but Champlain was one of the Cent-Associésthe Company of One Hundred Associates (1628-1663).
So let us finish the list. Champlain was
commandant at Quebec in 1627 and 1628, between de [sic] Ventadour’s resignation and the creation of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés;
commander in New France “in the absence of my Lord the Cardinal de Richelieu” 1629–35;
member of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés (founded when Quebec City had been captured by the brothers Kirke and was under British rule [1628 to 1632]) ;
probably b. at Brouage, in Saintonge (Charente-Maritime);
d. 25 Dec. 1635 at Quebec.
The Kirke Brothers in Tadoussac and Quebec City
In 1628, the brothers Kirke (see also Place Royale) captured Tadoussac and then Quebec City. From 1629 and 1632, Quebec City was under British control. So we have just learned, however, that after a failed attempt to settle Tadoussac in 1600, Tadoussac was later settled. Because of its location, at the confluence of the Saguenay River and the St Lawrence River, New France’s highway, Tadoussac is a beautiful place.
Before pausing, I will note that
Du Gua de Monts settled Acadie, with the assistance of Champlain;
that Champlain benefitted from calling himself a Catholic. He was not persecuted and could be named “father of Canada” by the Clergy.
that Acadie remained, i.e. Du Gua did not fail, and that Quebec was settled by Champlain;
that the Company of One Hundred Associates was founded in 1628 and dissolved in 1663;
that a Sovereign Council governed New France from 1675 until the Battle of Sainte-Foy (28 April 1760);
that the Seigneurial System was in place from 1627 until 1854;
that although it was abolished some SEIGNEURS continued to collect rentes from CENSITAIRES;
that France could not afford its North-American colony and failed to give it a self-sustaining and eventually prosperous economy;
that under the Quebec Act (1674), Guy Carleton, Lord Dorchester seems to have been the first person to give a voice in government to French-speaking Canadians citizens: Parliament. However, the country he governed was the country Champlain had founded.
[v] “In 1620 the king [Louis XIII] reaffirmed Champlain’s authority over Quebec but forbade his personal exploration, directing him instead to employ his talents in administrative tasks.” In C. T. Ritchie, “Samuel de Champlain,” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 09 May. 2012 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/105187/Samuel-de-Champlain>.