Histoire de la Nouvelle-France

Samuel de Champlain 13 August 1567 – 25 December 1635) was a French explorer, navigator, cartographer, draftsman, soldier, geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler. He made between 21 and 29 trips across the Atlantic Ocean, and founded Quebec, and New France, on 3 July 1608. An important figure in Canadian history, Champlain created the first accurate coastal map during his explorations and founded various colonial settlements.

Born into a family of sailors, Champlain began exploring North America in 1603, under the guidance of his uncle, François Gravé Du Pont. After 1603, Champlain's life and career consolidated into the path he would follow for the rest of his life. From 1604 to 1607, he participated in the exploration and creation of the first permanent European settlement north of Florida, Port Royal, Acadia (1605). In 1608, he established the French settlement that is now Quebec City. Champlain was the first European to describe the Great Lakes, and published maps of his journeys and accounts of what he learned from the natives and the French living among the Natives. He formed long-time relationships with local Montagnais and Innu and, later, with others farther west—tribes of the Ottawa River, Lake Nipissing, and Georgian Bay, and with Algonquin and Wendat. He agreed to provide assistance in the Beaver Wars against the Iroquois. He learned and mastered their languages.

Samuel de Champlain 

La colonisation du Canada français commence par la fondation de la ville de Québec en 1608 par Samuel de Champlain. Champlain, qui fut d’abord impliqué dans des activités de pêche dans le golfe du Saint-Laurent, comprend vite l’intérêt du commerce des fourrures. Pour faciliter ce commerce, il établit d’abord un poste de traite saisonnière à Tadoussac en 1603 puis il réalise l’importance de disposer d’un établissement permanent. Il fonde donc, en 1608, la ville de Québec qui devient le premier établissement français permanent en Amérique et le point de départ du Canada français qui deviendra la plus importante colonie de la Nouvelle-France.

La traite des fourrures à Québec s'annonce prometteuse surtout après la rencontre qui a eu lieu à Tadoussac en 1603 avec les Algonquins et des Hurons qui semblent plutôt bien disposés envers les Français. Pour s’assurer de leur coopération, Champlain leur a promis de les assister dans leur lutte contre les Iroquois.

Au printemps 1609, après un hiver plutôt difficile qui ne laisse que 7 Français dans l'Habitation de Québec, les Algonquins viennent proposer à Champlain une expédition contre les Iroquois près de l’actuel lac Champlain. Champlain n'en a pas vraiment les moyens mais il n'a pas le choix. Il doit donc s'impliquer dans un conflit qui existait bien avant son arrivée dans la vallée du Saint-Laurent. Il part avec deux compagnons, tous trois équipés de leurs « bâtons qui crachent le tonnerre », et ils se dirigent avec leurs alliés amérindiens vers le territoire iroquois. La rencontre a lieu au sud du lac Champlain et les Iroquois sont littéralement terrorisés par les arquebuses à mèche des Français. La partie a peut-être semblé facile mais elle aura des lendemains amers. Cette agression contre les Iroquois va amener ces derniers à entretenir un état d'hostilité quasi permanente avec les Français jusqu'en 1701 et coûtera la vie à plusieurs colons dans les avant-postes de Trois-Rivières et de Ville-Marie (Montréal). Champlain était piégé dans un dilemme. S'il n'avait pas appuyé ses partenaires commerciaux, son commerce des fourrures aurait été compromis et l'essentiel de l'économie reposait sur ce commerce. Par contre, en s'attaquant aux Iroquois, il a contribué à mettre la jeune colonie dans un état d'insécurité permanente.

The colonization of French Canada began with the founding of the city of Quebec in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain. Champlain, who was first involved in fishing activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, quickly understood the value of the fur trade. To facilitate this trade, he established a seasonal trading post in Tadoussac in 1603 and then realized the importance of a permanent establishment. Therefore, he founded 1608 the city of Quebec, which became the first permanent French settlement in America and the starting point of French Canada, which would become the most important colony of New France.

The fur trade in Quebec looked promising, especially after the meeting in Tadoussac in 1603 with the Algonquins and Hurons, who seemed well-disposed towards the French. To ensure their cooperation, Champlain promised to assist them in their fight against the Iroquois.

In the spring of 1609, after a rather brutal winter that left only 7 Frenchmen in the Habitation of Quebec, the Algonquins came to offer Champlain an expedition against the Iroquois near what is now Lake Champlain. Champlain doesn't have the means, but he has no choice. He must therefore get involved in a conflict that existed long before he arrived in the St. Lawrence Valley. He leaves with two companions, all three equipped with their "staffs that spit thunder," they head with their Native American allies toward Iroquois territory. The meeting takes place south of Lake Champlain, and the matchlock arquebuses of the French terrorize the Iroquois. The game may have seemed easy, but it will have bitter aftermath. This aggression against the Iroquois led them to maintain a state of almost permanent hostility with the French until 1701. It will cost the lives of several settlers in the outposts of Trois-Rivières and Ville-Marie (Montreal). Champlain was trapped in a dilemma. If he had not supported his trading partners, his fur trade would have been compromised, and the economy depended on this trade. On the other hand, by attacking the Iroquois, he put the young colony in permanent insecurity.

The French interest in Canada focused first on fishing off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. However, at the beginning of the 17th century, France was more interested in fur from North America. The fur trading post of Tadoussac was founded in 1600. Four years later, Champlain made his first trip to Canada on a trade mission for fur. Although he had no formal mandate on this trip, he sketched a map of the St. Lawrence River and, in writing, on his return to France, a report entitled Savages (related to his stay in a tribe of Montagnais near Tadoussac).

Champlain needed to report his findings to Henry IV. He participated in another expedition to New France in the spring of 1604, conducted by Pierre Du Gua de Monts. It helped the foundation of a settlement on Saint Croix Island, the first French settlement in the New World, which would be given up the following winter. The expedition then founded the colony of Port-Royal.

In 1608, Champlain founded a fur post that would become the city of Quebec, which would become the capital of New France. In Quebec, Champlain forged alliances between France and the Huron and Ottawa against their traditional enemies, the Iroquois. Champlain and other French travellers then continued to explore North America with canoes made from birch bark to move quickly through the Great Lakes and their tributaries. In 1634, the Normand explorer Jean Nicolet pushed his exploration to the West up to Wisconsin.


The Iroquois, also known as the Five Nations or the Six Nations and by the autonym Haudenosaunee meaning "people who are building the longhouse") are an Iroquoian-speaking confederacy of Native Americans and First Nations peoples in northeast North America and Upstate New York. During the colonial years, they were known to the French as the "Iroquois League" and later as the "Iroquois Confederacy." The English called them the "Five Nations," comprising the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca (listed geographically from east to west). After 1722, the Iroquoian-speaking Tuscarora from the southeast were accepted into the confederacy, known as the "Six Nations."

The Confederacy resulted from the Great Law of Peace, said to have been composed by Deganawidah the Great Peacemaker, Hiawatha, and Jigonsaseh the Mother of Nations. For nearly 200 years, the Six Nations/Haudenosaunee Confederacy were a decisive factor in North American colonial policy, with some scholars arguing for the concept of the Middle Ground, in that European powers were used by the Iroquois just as much as Europeans used them. At its peak around 1700, Iroquois power extended from what is today New York State, north into present-day Ontario and Quebec along the lower Great Lakes–upper St. Lawrence, and south on both sides of the Allegheny mountains into present-day Virginia and Kentucky and the Ohio Valley.

The St. Lawrence Iroquoians, Wendat (Huron), Erie, and Susquehannock, all independent peoples known to the European colonists, also spoke the Iroquoian languages. They are considered Iroquoian in a larger cultural sense; all descended from the Proto-Iroquoian people and language. Historically, however, they were competitors and enemies of the Iroquois League nations.

In 2010, more than 45,000 enrolled Six Nations people lived in Canada and over 81,000 in the United States.

In 1687, the Marquis de Denonville set out for Fort Frontenac (modern Kingston, Ontario) with a well-organized force. In July 1687, Denonville took with him on his expedition a mixed force of troupes de la Marine, French-Canadian militiamen, and 353 Indian warriors from the Jesuit mission settlements, including 220 Haudenosaunee. They met under a flag of truce with 50 hereditary sachems from the Onondaga council fire on the north shore of Lake Ontario in what is now southern Ontario. Denonville recaptured the fort for New France and seized, chained, and shipped the 50 Iroquois chiefs to Marseilles, France, to be used as galley slaves. Several Catholic Haudenosaunee were outraged at this betrayal of a diplomatic party, leading to at least 100 deserting the Seneca. Denonville justified enslaving the people he encountered, saying that as a "civilized European," he did not respect the customs of "savages" and would do as he liked with them. On August 13, 1687, an advance party of French soldiers walked into a Seneca ambush and were nearly killed by a man; however, the Seneca fled when the main French force came up. The remaining Catholic Haudenosaunee warriors refused to pursue the retreating Seneca.

Denonville ravaged the land of the Seneca, landing a French armada at Irondequoit Bay, striking straight into the seat of Seneca power, and destroying many of its villages. Fleeing before the attack, the Seneca moved farther west, east and south down the Susquehanna River. Although significant damage was done to their homeland, the Senecas' military might was not appreciably weakened. The Confederacy and the Seneca allied with the English settling in the east. The destruction of the Seneca land infuriated the members of the Iroquois Confederacy. On August 4, 1689, they retaliated by burning down Lachine, a small town adjacent to Montreal. Fifteen hundred Iroquois warriors had been harassing Montreal's defences for months before.

They finally exhausted and defeated Denonville and his forces. His tenure was followed by the return of Frontenac for the next nine years (1689–1698). Frontenac had arranged a new strategy to weaken the Iroquois. As an act of conciliation, he located the 13 surviving sachems of the 50 initially taken and returned with them to New France in October 1689. In 1690, Frontenac destroyed Schenectady and Kanienkeh in 1693, burned down three other Mohawk villages and took 300 prisoners.

In 1696, Frontenac decided to take the field against the Iroquois, despite being seventy-six years of age. He decided to target the Oneida and Onondaga instead of the Mohawk, who had been the favourite enemies of the French. On July 6, he left Lachine at the head of a considerable force and travelled to the capital of Onondaga, where he arrived a month later. With support from the French, the Algonquian nations drove the Iroquois out of the territories north of Lake Erie and west of present-day Cleveland, Ohio, regions which they had conquered during the Beaver Wars.[89] In the meantime, the Iroquois had abandoned their villages. As pursuit was impracticable, the French army commenced its return march on August 10. Under Frontenac's leadership, the Canadian militia became increasingly adept at guerrilla warfare, taking the war into Iroquois territory and attacking several English settlements. The Iroquois never threatened the French colony again.

During King William's War (North American part of the War of the Grand Alliance), the Iroquois were allied with the English. In July 1701, they concluded the "Nanfan Treaty," deeding the English a large tract north of the Ohio River. The Iroquois claimed to have conquered this territory 80 years earlier. France did not recognize the treaty, as it had settlements in the territory then, and the English had virtually none. Meanwhile, the Iroquois were negotiating peace with the French; they signed the Great Peace of Montreal that same year.

The French and Indian Wars were a series of conflicts in North America between 1688 and 1763, some indirectly related to the European dynastic wars. The title French and Indian War in the singular is used in the United States specifically for the warfare of 1754–63, which composed the North American theatre of the Seven Years' War and the aftermath of which led to the American Revolution. The Beaver Wars preceded the French and Indian Wars.

In Quebec, the various wars are generally called the Intercolonial Wars. Some conflicts involved Spanish and Dutch forces, but all pitted the Kingdom of Great Britain, its colonies, and their Indigenous allies on one side against France, its colonies, and its Indigenous allies on the other. A driving cause behind the wars was the desire of each country to take control of the interior territories of America and the region around Hudson Bay; both were deemed essential to the domination of the fur trade.

The Compagnies Franches de la Marine, the colonial marines, contained the core of the military forces of New France. It was only during the French and Indian War that units from the French Royal Army were transferred to Canada. The colonial militia was more important than its counterpart in British America. 

The French colonies were administrated through the secretary of state for the navy, and naval troops garrisoned New France. The French marines were organized into independent companies called Compagnies franches. During the French and Indian War, naval gunner-bombardier companies were stationed in North America. The other ranks of the marines were enlisted in France, but the officer corps became increasingly Canadian by recruiting officers' sons. All promotions were by merit; the purchase of commissions was prohibited. The British rangers attempted to replicate the tactics of the French colonial marines. The Swiss regiment de Karrer also operated under the Royal French Navy. Its depot was in Rochefort, but its companies served North America and the Caribbean.

Firearms began to enter Indigenous hands in the early 17th century, with large-scale acquisition beginning in the 1640s. The arrival of firearms saw fighting between indigenous groups become bloodier and more decisive, especially as tribes became caught up in the economic and military rivalries of the European settlers. The uneven distribution of firearms and horses among competing indigenous groups also dramatically increased the bloodshed during conflicts. By the end of the 17th century, Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands, the eastern subarctic, and the Métis (a people of joint First Nations and European descent) had rapidly adopted firearms, supplanting the bow. However, limited use of the bow and arrow continued until the early 18th century as a covert weapon for surprise attacks. 

In 1754 six battalions from the regiments Artois, Béarn, Bourgogne, Guyenne, Languedoc, and La Reine were transferred to New France and in 1757, two additional battalions arrived from Royal Roussilon and La Sarre, followed the next year by two battalions from de Berry. An artillery company was also sent over the Atlantic. 

The Iroquois League was essential in the struggle between Britain and France over northeastern America because of its location east and south of Lake Ontario. The League's aggressive military and commercial policy gave the five Iroquois nations control over large parts of the country, forcing many smaller Indigenous nations into submission. The Iroquois used the Covenant Chain to join with the colony of New York and other British colonies in a compact that generally benefitted the parties and ultimately was disastrous for France. 

France recognized the independence of the Indigenous tribes while claiming sovereignty over their territory simultaneously, as well as the right to plead the cause of their Indigenous allies in the face of other European powers. The French allies accepted this protectorate since it permitted self-government and a traditional lifestyle. The Mi'kmaq and the Abenaki accepted Catholicism, confirming their alliance with the French against British colonists in Nova Scotia. Alongside the Mi'kmaq and the Abenaki, France's chief allies were the Indiens domiciliés (resident Indians) who lived at the Catholic missions in New France. Many of these were Mohawk from their earlier territory in central New York, but there were also members of other tribes from New England. Fleeing attacks by New England colonists during and after King Philip's War motivated their displacement to French territory. At the end of the French and Indian wars, all resident Indigenous peoples joined the Confederation of the Seven Nations of Canada. 

 A pattern of warfare emerged during the clashes between the European colonial powers and the American Indigenous peoples, which characterized the four major French and Indigenous wars. The complex network of relations was fundamental between some Indigenous tribes and some colonies, the Indigenous tribes becoming the allies of the colonial powers. These alliances resulted from the economic ties formed by the fur trade and the Indigenous tribes' need for allies against their Indigenous rivals. The warfare included the widespread and escalating abuse of civilians on all sides, in which settlements were attacked, Colonial and Indigenous, the residents killed or abducted, and houses and crops burned. 


In the second half of 1758, the British began to take the upper hand in North America, due in part to the massive resources they organized against the French and in part to the lack of reinforcements and supplies from France to support its colony, which was already on the brink of starvation following a catastrophic harvest. Louis XV, therefore, ordered the colony to reduce its defensive perimeter to the valley of the Saint Lawrence River, evacuating all forts in Ohio along with those around Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain. The French Minister of War nonetheless expressed his full support to Montcalm, confident that despite the odds, he would find a way to frustrate the enemy's plans, as he had done at Fort Carillon. This news, along with the threat of impending attack by the British, crushed Montcalm's spirit, who had lost all hope of holding the city in case of a siege.

Wolfe's forces reached Quebec in late June 1759, and, taking position on the opposite shore, started bombarding the city on July 12, reducing the city to rubble over two months.[On many occasions, Montcalm managed to repel attempted landings by the British forces, most notably at the Battle of Beauport, on 31 July 1759. After spending the month of August ravaging the countryside, the British would once again attempt a landing on September 13, this time at l'Anse au Foulons, catching the French off guard. Before Montcalm could react, Wolfe's forces had already reached the plains outside the city and were ready for battle.

In a decision largely considered Montcalm's greatest mistake, the general decided to attack the British with what forces he had rather than wait for the forces garrisoned along the shore to come and bolster his numbers.The marquis believed that if he allowed the British to fortify their position, he would not be able to defeat them, and the attack, therefore could not wait. The French forces were defeated in the ensuing Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

While riding back towards the city, General Montcalm was hit in the back by a musket shot. Assisted by three soldiers, he regained the city, where he was taken before a surgeon, who announced Montcalm would not live through the night. During the afternoon, the general drew on his last reserves of strength and signed his last official act as commander of the French army in Canada. In a letter addressed to General Wolfe, who had also fallen in battle unbeknownst to him, Montcalm attempted to surrender the city, even though he did not hold the authority to do so. He died at around 5:00 am on 14 September 1759. At 8:00 am, he was buried in a shell hole under the choir of the Ursuline church. On October 11, 2001, the remains of Montcalm were removed from the Ursuline convent and placed into a newly built mausoleum in the cemetery of the Hôpital-Général de Québec. 

Louis-Joseph de Montcalm

Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham