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Samuel de Champlain before 1604

Samuel de Champlain before 1604: Des Sauvages and other Documents Related to the Period

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 526
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  • Book Info
    Samuel de Champlain before 1604
    Book Description:

    The French explorer, surveyor, cartographer, and diplomat Samuel de Champlain (c. 1575-1635) is often called the Father of New France for founding the settlement that became Quebec City, governing New France, and mapping much of the St. Lawrence and eastern Great Lakes region. Champlain was also a prolific writer who documented his experiences in the Americas, including his travels, impressions of the New World, and encounters and alliances with native peoples.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9100-4
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Maps and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xxii)
  5. Figures
    (pp. xxiii-xxxii)

    • A. Champlain and His Times to 1604: An Interpretive Essay
      (pp. 3-82)

      There cannot be very many people who have made such an indelible imprint on the imagination and history of Canada as Samuel de Champlain, about whom so little personal information is known. Even though he wrote four substantial books about his activities,¹ he never mentioned the date of his birth, his parents, his education, his early life, his career in Henry IV’s army, or anything personal of any consequence except one brief phrase. Not once did he record the name of his wife, Hélène Boullé, to whom he was married for twenty-five years, except to refer to her on a...

    • B. Textual Introduction to Des Sauvages
      (pp. 83-126)

      Seventeenth-century France is known as the Golden Age of French Literature. It is the age of Corneille, Racine, Molière, Boileau, and La Fontaine – the French classical canon, equivalent to William Shakespeare of England or Miguel de Cervantes of Spain. Both of the latter died in 1616. Five years earlier, in 1611, Shakespeare had concluded his career with the New World theme of The Tempest, the same year that the King James Version of the Bible was first published.

      Within such a grandiose context, Champlain’s Des Sauvages of 1603–04 suits a Renaissance classification better than any association with the Golden...


    • DOCUMENT A Early Biographies of Champlain: Extracts
      (pp. 129-153)

      As far as we can determine, the earliest biographical statement about Champlain, including the first review of one of his books, was written by Father Pierre-François-Xavier de Charlevoix, SJ, for his Histoire et description generale de la Nouvelle France, published in Paris in 1744 by five different printers, each producing a three- and six-volume edition. All the material used by Charlevoix was taken from scattered statements about Champlain in the Jesuit Relations, Lescarbot’s Histoire, and Champlain’s own writings. The Jesuits eulogized Champlain as a devout Christian and capable administrator who laid the foundations of “civilization” in Canada. The statements from...

    • DOCUMENT B Personnel and Pay Records from the Garrisons in Brittany, 1595–1597
      (pp. 154-172)

      The extracts included in this section are parts of extraordinarily detailed inventories of the thirty-four garrisons stationed in Brittany in 1595, the year Champlain was sent to the Quimper garrison.

      The first document, compiled by François Miron,¹ under the command of maréchal Jean d’Aumont,² is dated 16 February 1595 and lists the names and ranks of the commanding officers of each garrison, the major administrative personnel, and the number of soldiers and officers by rank, type of military unit, and their wages. At that time, the anticipated total pay for thirty-one of the major garrisons was 38,167 escus (écus), 20...

    • DOCUMENT C Gift from Guillermo Elena¹ to Samuel de Champlain of a Vineyard and a Certain Quantity of Money Deposited in San Sebastián, 1601²
      (pp. 173-192)

      Only two previous translations of this document have been published prior to this one: an English one commissioned by Joe Armstrong, in 1987, and a French translation of the same by Normand Paiement, in collaboration with Christiane Lacroix, in 1988.⁴ Paiement, working directly from the original Spanish transcription of 1975 and a French version, was able to improve upon the Armstrong one. One such improvement consisted in adding ellipses every time a portion of the document was omitted. Others are more in harmony with our English translation below. The most striking examples of absurdities in the Armstrong edition include the...

    • DOCUMENT D Factum of the Merchants of Saint-Malo against Champlain, [January 1613]
      (pp. 193-203)

      The merchants of Saint-Malo were essentially free traders who considered themselves successors to the discoveries of Jacques Cartier and pioneers of the emerging Canadian fur trade. Under Henri IV, trading monopolies were given on occasion to those of his early supporters in the religious wars who promised to use the profits from the trade to develop settlements. These policies led to constant agitation at court by the Saint-Malo merchants to have the monopolies rescinded and the trade opened to all. Champlain was a steady factor on the side of the monopolists because of his unswerving dedication to colonization and his...

    • DOCUMENT E Decrees and Commissions Preparatory to the Voyage of 1603
      (pp. 204-212)

      Trying to end the squabbles between the “free traders,” represented most vociferously by the merchants of Saint-Malo, and those who wanted a trade monopoly in order to finance a colony, Henri IV issued an edict in Paris (document 1, below) on 13 March 1603 permitting three vessels to trade in Canada. This decree was followed the same day by a commission (document 2) outlining its conditions in slightly greater detail. Of the three ships, one was from Saint-Malo captained by Gilles Éberard du Colombier¹ and the two others by Jean Sarcel de Prévert and François Gravé Du Pont.²

      The groups...

    • DOCUMENT F Excerpts from Champlain’s Works Related to Events before 1604
      (pp. 213-231)

      In his various writings Champlain made some references to his life before he returned from his voyage to Canada in 1603. These are brought together here as a series of excerpts. Each has been newly translated from the original texts. The pagination from the original texts is given as, for example, /[p. 3], and where appropriate the pagination from the Champlain Society edition of Biggar’s Works is given as {3}. The excerpts cited from The Works are reproduced without any editorial intervention with respect to orthography, but apart from the ampersand, abbreviations have been resolved and i/j, u/v normalized for...

    • DOCUMENT G Des Sauvages, or, Voyage of Samuel Champlain, [1603], 1604
      (pp. 232-366)

      In this, his first book, Champlain faithfully recorded the information he had gathered according to the orders he had from King Henri IV and Commander Aymar de Chaste: “to make the voyage in order to see this land, and what the associates would do there.”¹ What this amounted to was to conduct a survey in order to assess the potential of the banks of the St. Lawrence for settlement and to determine the possibilities for westward exploration.

      Champlain left Honfleur on 15 March 1603, reaching Tadoussac on 24 May. By 2 July, he was at the Lachine Rapids, whence he...

    • DOCUMENT H Of the French Who Have Become Accustomed to Being in Canada. Summary of Des Sauvages by Pierre-Victor Cayet, 1605
      (pp. 367-399)

      Pierre-Victor Cayet² (1525–1610) had a chequered career as a teacher, writer, and early promoter of Calvinist and, later Catholic, causes. His connection to Henri IV began in 1562, when he was a tutor and vice-governor to the young prince. Although Henri IV was ambivalent about him, he appointed him king’s chorographer³ (chronographe du roi) in the late 1590s to write a documentary history of his reign. In this capacity, Cayet had access to state papers and the best libraries. One of the worthwhile series of volumes that resulted was the Chronologie septenaire, in which Cayet published an abbreviated version...

    • DOCUMENT I The Voyage of Samvel Champlaine of Brouage, made unto Canada in the yeere 1603
      (pp. 400-428)

      In 1625 Samuel Purchas (1577–1626) published the first English translation of any of Champlain’s writings. Of the original text, the only section that was omitted was the entire description of the Gougou in chapter 13, probably because it stretched the credulity of the reader.

      Purchas had obtained the translation of Des Sauvages from Richard Hakluyt (1552–1616), who may have been preparing a third edition of his Principal Navigations sometime before he died. It is likely that the translation was made by Hakluyt or by someone hired by him.¹ Both Narcisse Dionne, in his biography of Champlain, and Philéas...


    • APPENDIX 1 Champlain’s Birthdate and Appearance
      (pp. 429-435)
    • APPENDIX 2 Champlain’s Signature and Titles: A Discussion
      (pp. 436-446)
    • APPENDIX 3 Chronology to 1604
      (pp. 447-450)
    • APPENDIX 4 French Measures of Distance, Weight, and Coinage
      (pp. 451-456)
    • APPENDIX 5 Champlian’s Des Sauvages and Edward Hayes’s Treatise
      (pp. 457-462)
    (pp. 463-482)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 483-491)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 492-502)