Les Filles du roi

chagnon family tree

Prior to 1663, the majority of women who arrived in Canada were married to one of the settlers or were single women who came looking for a husband. These single women were few in number and often paid there own passage to Canada by a contract of indenture. In 1663, when King Louis XIV became concerned with populating the colony, he directed recruitment of women to be sent to Canada.

Once chosen, the girl was given passage, in addition to clothing and personal necessities. She was also given a dowry of 59 Livres if she married a soldier or habitant or 100 livres if she married an officer.

Of the nearly 1,000 women who undertook the journey, about 800 made it to Canada. These women arrived between 1663 and 1673. There distinction of being the King’s Daughters is noted by the marriage contract, which showed the dowry from the King.

Known as  the King’s Daughters (Frenchfilles du roi; filles du roy) is a term used to refer to the approximately 800 young French women who immigrated to New France. as part of a program sponsored by Louis XIV. While women and girls certainly immigrated to New France both before and after this time period, they were not considered to be filles du roi. They were also occasionally known as the King’s Wards, where “wards” meant those under the guardianship of another.

At its start, New France was a man’s world: the province of soldiers, fur trappers, and priests, it had little to offer women. In time, the colony became more agricultural, which allowed for more women, but not until  the mid-17th century,  when there was a severe imbalance between single men and women in New France.

To increase population and the number of families, the Intendant of New FranceJean Talon, proposed that the king sponsor passage of at least 500 women. The king agreed, and eventually nearly twice the number were recruited. They were predominately between the ages of 12 and 25, and many had to supply a letter of reference from their parish priest before they would be chosen for emigration to New France.

Marguerite Bourgeoys was the first person  to use the expression “filles du roi” in her writings. A distinction was made between King’s Daughters, who were transported to New France at the king’s expense and were given a dowry by the king, and women who emigrated voluntarily and using their own money.

The title “King’s Daughters” was meant to imply state patronage, not royal or noble parentage. Most of these women were commoners of humble birth. As a fille du roi, a woman received the King’s support in several ways. The King paid one hundred livres to the French East India Company for the woman’s crossing, as well as furnishing a trousseau. The Crown paid a dowry for each woman; this was originally supposed to be four hundred livres, but as the Treasury could not spare such an expense, many were paid in kind.  As was the case for most emigrants who went from France to New France, 80% of the filles du roi were from the Paris, Normandy and Western regions.  The Hôpital-Général de Paris and the St-Sulpice parish were big contributors of women for the new colony. Most of the filles du roi were from urban areas. A few women came from other European countries, including Germany, England, and Portugal. Those who were chosen to be among the filles du roi and allowed to emigrate to New France were held to scrupulous standards, which were based on their “moral calibre” and whether they were physically fit enough to survive the hard work demanded by life as a colonist. The colonial officials sent several of the filles du roi back to France because they were judged below the standards set out by the King and the Intendant of New France.

Almost half of the filles du roi were from the Paris area, 16% from Normandy and 13% from western France. Many were orphans with very meager personal possessions, and their level of literacy was relatively low. Socially, the young women came from different social backgrounds, but were all very poor. They might have been from an elite family that had lost its fortune, or from a large family with children to “spare.” Officials usually matched women of higher birth with officers or gentlemen living in the colony, sometimes in the hopes that the nobles would marry the young women and be encouraged to stay in Canada rather than return to France.

The women disembarked in Quebec CityTrois-Rivières, and Montreal. After their arrival, their time to find husbands varied greatly. For some, it was as short as a few months, while others took two or three years before finding an appropriate husband.  For the process of choosing a husband,  most would officially get engaged in church, by their priest and witnesses present Some  went in front of the notary, to sign a marriage contract.  Marriages were celebrated by the priest, usually in the woman’s parish of residence.   It is known that out of the 800, 737 of these filles du roi were married in New France.

The marriage contracts represented a protection for the women, both in terms of financial security if anything were to happen to them or their husband, and in terms of having the liberty to annul the promise of marriage if the man they had chosen proved incompatible. A substantial number of the filles du roi who arrived in New France between 1669 and 1671 cancelled marriage contracts; perhaps the dowry they had received made them disinclined to stick with a fiancé they were not happy with.

An early problem in recruitment was the women’s adjustment to the new agricultural life. As Saint Marie de L’Incarnation wrote, the filles du roi were mostly town girls, and only a few knew how to do manual farm work. This problem remained, but in later years, more rural girls were recruited

There were approximately 300 recruits who did not marry in New France. Some had changes of heart before embarking from the ports of Normandy and never left, some died during the journey, some returned to France to marry, and a few never did marry.

Prior to the King’s Daughters, the women who immigrated to Ville-Marie, otherwise known as Montreal, had been recruited by the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal founded in 1641 in Paris.  Amongst these women were Jeanne Mance and Marguerite Bourgeoys. When the first filles du roi arrived in Montreal, they were taken in by Bourgeoys.  Initially, there were no comfortable lodgings to receive them, but in 1668  Bourgeoys procured a large farmhouse in which to house them: the Maison Saint-Gabriel.  The migration briefly resumed in 1673, when the king sent 60 more girls at the request of Buade de Frontenac, the new governor, but that was the last of the Crown’s sponsorship.  Of the approximately 835 marriages of immigrants in the colony during this period, 774 included a fille du roi. By 1672, the population of New France had risen to 6,700, from 3,200 in 1663. We honor all these 17th century men and women who paved the way for growth and prosperity of New France.

In the late 17th and 18th centuries, 15,000 explorers  left Montreal leaving French names scattered across the continent. The search for North west passage continued. Migration from France to New France (Quebec as it was now more popularly called), continued until 1759. By 1675, there were 7,000 French in Quebec. By the same year the Acadian presence in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island had reach 500.

In the treaty of Utecht, the Acadians were ceded by France to Britain in 1713. In 1755, 10,000 French Acadians refused to take an oath of allegiance to England and were deported. They found refuge in Louisiana. Meanwhile, in Quebec, the French race flourished, forming the  Lower part of  Canada, one of the two great solitudes which became Canada.

Carignan-Salieres Regiment

chagnon family tree

The Carignan-Salières Regiment was a Piedmont French military unit formed by the combination of  two other regiments in 1659. They were led by  Governor, Daniel de Rémy de Courcelles, and Lieutenant General Alexandre de Prouville, Sieur de Tracy. Approximately 1,200 men (Piedmont, Savoyard and Ligurian) arrived in  New France in the middle of 1665.

Seven ships were used to transport the regiment to New France. The  Le Vieux Siméon, departed La Rochelle 19 April 1665, arriving at Quebec 1 July 1665. On board were the companies of La Fouille, Froment, Chambly and Rougment. The Le Vieux Siméon was a Dutch ship chartered by a La Rochelle merchant, Pierre Gaigneur.

La Paix and L’Aigle d’Or ships  carried the companies of La Colonelle, celles de Contrecoeur, Maximy, and Sorel, and   de Salières, La Fredière, Grandfontaine and La Motte. These both were royal ships of the king’s navy that departed from La Rochelle 13 May 1665, arriving at Quebec 18 August 1665.

Le Saint Sébastian and Le Justice. Aboard Le Saint Sébastian, were amongst the next seven companies being transported to New France. Newly appointed Intendant of New FranceJean Talon, and the Governor Daniel de Rémy de Courcelles. Aboard the final two ships were the companies of Du Prat, Naurois, Laubia, Saint-Ours, Petit, La Varenne, Vernon. These last two ships to depart from France left La Rochelle 24 May 1665, arriving at Quebec 12 September 1665.

Four companies arrived with Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy on the Brézé from the Antilles, arriving in New France 30 June 1665. The captains of these companies were La Durantaye (Chambellé), Berthier (L’Allier), La Brisardière (Orléans), Monteil (Poitou). Tracy had been in the West Indies as part of his royal commission to officially establish Louis XIV’s rule of the French colonies, following the King’s takeover of the French territories after the bankruptcy of the Company of 100 Associates.

The last ship to sail from France associated with the regiment was the Jardin de Hollande which carried the provisions and equipment for the troops.*(Depending on sources, there are some contradictions as to when ships arrived in New France and what companies were on board said ships.)

The regiment’s service in New France began when a third of them were ordered to build new forts along the Richelieu River, the principal route of the Iroquois marauders. Fort Chambly formerly known as Fort St. Louis at ChamblyFort Sainte Thérèse, and Fort Saint-Jean at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, were along the Richelieu River and were constructed as ways to limit Iroquois nation attacks on citizens of New France. Fort Sainte Anne in Lake Champlain was near the river’s source. All of the forts were used as supply stations for the troops as they were deployed on their two campaigns into Iroquois nation land in 1666. Fort Chambly as constructed in 1665 was the first wooden fort constructed in New France and had a rudimentary wood wall system with a building in the center of the fort. Inside, and near the center building, were small buildings for the troops.

The first of the regiment’s campaign took place in the winter of 1666. The expedition was initiated by the governor, Daniel de Rémy de Courcelles. General Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy agreed to the campaign after the Mohawks refused to attend a delegation of the Iroquois nations and French leaders in Montreal in November of 1665. At this delegation the French entered into agreements with the Oneida and Onondaga nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, who were there to represent themselves as well as the Cayugas and the Senecas.

The campaign was made up of about five hundred men of regimental soldiers, a number of Indians, and an estimated 200 volunteer habitants. The column ended up getting lost, wandering in the wilderness for three weeks before ending up on the outskirts of the Anglo-Dutch settlement of Schenectady. The soldiers came across a village that they assumed was Mohawk and launched a brutal attack, ravaging the village and killing two and severely wounding another two. The sounds of the battle were overheard by a passing Mohawk party of composed of approximately sixty warriors. The French and Mohawks engaged in a small skirmish which resulted in a small number of casualties on both sides. The French troops were at a tactical disadvantage as they were used to the pitched battles regulated by rigid drills commonly used in Continental Europe. Despite the experience of the soldiers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment, their tactics were useless against the hit-and-run tactics used by the Mohawks. The fighting ended when the burgomaster of Schenectady informed Courcelles that he was in the territory of the Duke of York. The burgomaster implied that if the French chose to stay in the settlement they would be vulnerable to attacks by both Indians and the English units stationed at Schenectady and Albany (less than 25 kilometres away). The French stopped the attack and the burgomaster agreed to provide the men with some provisions for their return journey.

The campaign was ultimately a failure. Nothing was accomplished and the regiment sustained great losses; 400 out of 500 died. Due to the hastiness with which the campaign had been launched and the harshness of the weather, most of the deaths occurred while travelling from and to Fort St. Louis. When Courcelles commanded that the troops were to meet at Fort St. Louis at the end of January, he said that they should be prepared with three weeks worth of provisions. In total, the expedition took a little over five weeks to complete. What is more, the men were ill-equipped—many left the fort without snowshoes—which contributed significantly to the campaign’s death toll.

The regiment’s second and final campaign was led by Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy. The plan was to enter into Mohawk territory, located northwest of Schenectady along what is now the Mohawk River. The necessity of the campaign was created by the declaration of the Second Anglo-Dutch War in the summer of 1666. King Louis XIV wanted de Tracy to lead the men into the same area where they were the last year near Albany and Schenectady. However, it was first necessary for the French to subdue the Mohawks to protect themselves from facing multiple fronts against both the English and Mohawks. In addition, they wanted to ensure that their two opponents would not ally themselves against the French.

The plan was for the regiment to regroup at Fort Sainte Anne on the day before  and  then push into Mohawk territory on 29 September 1666. The Late arriving of several parties meant the regiment left in three separate columns over a period of three days. The number of men available in the campaign was approximately 120 regimental soldiers, habitants and Native warriors.  Because de Tracy sought to use the element of surprise and swiftly move into enemy territory, he ordered his soldiers to travel light. Thus, from the beginning of the campaign, the Regiment’s situation was precarious as the soldiers brought insufficient provisions and did not carry the necessary equipment for a lengthy assault. Inclement weather added to the danger of the mission and further threatened the campaign’s success.

As it moved inland, the regiment encountered four Mohawk villages all of which had been abandoned. The fact that the Mohawks abandoned their villages was fortuitous for the regiment since it was not operating at full strength and the soldiers were stretched over a large area. At this point in the campaign, the regiment probably would not have been able to withstand a large-scale attack. What is more, the villages were hastily abandoned thus providing the French troops with a supply of food, tools, weapons, and other provisions. After regrouping at the last of the four villages, Tracy ordered the soldiers to turn around and burn each one as they went, carrying all the loot they could back to Quebec. The Mohawks, though skilled in guerilla fighting, were caught by surprise by the speed of the French attack and were unable to engage the French.  On 17 October 1666, the lands and fields surrounding the Mohawk villages were all claimed as French territory and crosses were erected to symbolize that claim. However, the French never returned to the area to enforce this territorial claim.

Despite the fact that the French troops had not directly engaged the Mohawks or the English, the campaign was considered a great success; the French finally assumed a position of tactical superiority over the Mohawk and Iroquois Confederacy which in turn gave the French a diplomatic advantage in the following peace talks. In July 1667, peace was signed with the Iroquois following a five-day summit. The main objective of the French during the negotiations was to consolidate their control of the fur trade at the expense of the Anglo-Dutch interests in Albany. They sought to do so by placing themselves in a position that allowed them to oversee the traffic of the fur trade in the region. As a result, the French were able to place French-speaking traders as well as Jesuits in a number of Iroquois village. To ensure the success of this agreement as well as the security of the traders and missionaries, a system of hostages was implemented. Each Iroquois village was required to send two members of a leading family to live among in the St. Lawrence Valley. Following the ratification of the treaties of 1667, the peace was kept in the region for twenty years. The peace treaties of 1667 also signaled the end of the regiment’s operations in New France. Nonetheless, the troops of the Carignan-Salières Regiment were held in duty until another means of protecting New France could be devised.

The first regulars of the Carignan-Salières were dressed for “efficiency rather than looks”, but they were still rather poorly equipped during their first year. During the first year, the king sent only 200 flintlocks and 100 pistols for  over 1,200 men. Below are descriptions of some of the equipment used:

Powder horn: used to store gunpowder for firing their weapons. Black powder: used to arm and fire the newly issued muskets of the regiment.  Sword: used commonly for hand-to-hand fighting and every soldier had one.

Flintlock musket: became the main weapon of long range fighting for the Carignan-Salières. It replaced the matchlock musket that was common in early years due to its increased reliability and ability to be fired without the use of an external flame. Additionally, it was capable of a much higher rate of fire than the earlier matchlock.

Bayonet: the Carignan-Salières were one of the first regiments to transition to the bayonet, which was introduced in 1647. Pistol: a standard issue weapon but was not in high-supplies in New France.  Slouch hat: was worn in place of later tricorn hats. It was better at repelling rain and wind from the faces of soldiers. Uniform: The Carignan-Salières wore brown coats with contrasting colour sleeves. The Carignan-Salières were one of the first French forces to wear uniforms.

With the end to the Iroquois threat, King Louis XIV decided to offer the men of the regiment an opportunity to stay in New France to help increase the population. As incentive, regular officers were offered 100 livres or 50 livres and a year worth of rations. Lieutenants, alternatively, were offered 150 livres or 100 livres and a year worth of rations. Officers were also offered the incentive of large land grants in the forms of seigneuries.  This offer was particularly beneficial to such men as Pierre de SaurelAlexandre Berthier,Antoine Pécaudy de Contrecœur, and François Jarret de Verchères, who were granted large seigneuries in New France.

Although the majority of the regiment returned to France in 1668, about 450 remained behind to settle in Canada. These men were highly encouraged to marry, being offered land as incentive. As a result, most of them did marry newly arriving women to the colony known as Filles du Roi. The largest import of women to New France occurred during the 1660s and early 1670s, largely in response to the need to provide wives for the regiment.

Besides just rewarding Carignan-Salières officers by granting them seigneurial tenures, the tenure properties served an ulterior purpose. The properties granted to Contrecœurand Saurel were placed in strategic areas that could be used as a buffer between invaders both foreign (the British) as well as domestic (the Iroquois). It was believed that the men of the Carignan-Salières would be the colonists best suited to defend the territories of New France, therefore many of them were given properties on the Richelieu river and other areas prone to attack. These Seigneurs would sub grant land to the men of their companies in order to create an even more thoroughly reinforced zone. Saurel’s land would later be known as Sorel-Tracy in Quebec, while Contrecœur’s property would later become a region named after himself.

The French had a practice of allotting noms de guerre – nicknames – to their soldiers (this is still continued, but for different reasons, in the Foreign Legion). Many of these nicknames remain today as they gradually became the official surnames of the many soldiers who elected to remain in Canada when their service expired as well as the names of cities and towns throughout New France.

An Overview of the History of New France (Quebec)

This is a overview of the history of New France, which is called Quebec today. Many people can show a direct link in their genealogy to many of the first inhabitants of Canada.

The first inhabitants of Canada were native Indians, primarily the Inuit (Eskimo). The Norse explorer Leif Erikson probably reached the shores of Canada (Labrador or Nova Scotia) in A.D.1000, but the history of the white man in the country actually began in 1497, when John Cabot, an Italian in the service of Henry VII of England, reached Newfoundland or Nova Scotia. He was the first  explorer to leave written traces of his journey in North America. No proof of the exact place where he berthed was ever found, but some say he would have stopped somewhere between Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island.

In the early 16th, century France became the model for all Europe. In an expanding awareness of leadership, the New World exploration became a challenge. Along the eastern seaboard of  this New America there was  New France, New England, New Holland, and New Spain.

In 1534 and 1535, Jacques Cartier made the first voyage to New France. He took possession of the territory in the name of the King of France.  He then put up a cross in Gaspe’ , which you can still see today. He is the first known explorer to have travelled along the St. Lawrence River and to have encountered natives.  During his second Journey in 1535, Jacques Cartier went to Stadacona (Quebec City), Hochelaga (Montreal), and he stopped in  Trois-Rivers. This trip was of a great benefit to the King of France, since Cartier discovered numerous rivers he thought were leading to Asia, which encouraged the king to invest more money into his  exploration travels.

Samuel de Champlain was the next explorer to come to Quebec in 1603 to explore the territory, and he returned in 1608  to officially establish a colony in Quebec City. That year, 28 people settled for winter, but only 8 people survived. Champlain also explore the St. Lawrence River all the way  to Ottawa, as well as the great lakes  Huron and Ontario and the north-east coast of the United States. In 1609 , at the border of Quebec and the United States, he discovered a lake to which he gave his name, Lake Champlain. In 1612, he gave Ile Sainte-Helene the name of his wife.

The actual settlement of New France, as it was then called, began in 1604 at Port Royal in what is now Nova Scotia.

Plans for developing New France (Quebec)  fell far short of the objectives of the Company of New France, which would become the Habitants’ Company. Samuel D. Champlain made over  twenty voyages to France in order to encourage immigration to the New France. Fearful of the depopulating of France, the King was reluctant to encourage his subjects to migrate.

In 1617, Champlain brought the first true migrant, Louis Hebert and his family to New France.

In 1634,  Laviolette founded Trois-Riveres, thinking that the site would be suitable fur trading. He was right since the St Maurice River, located in the north-south axis, would facilitated  the trappers’ job, who needed to go up north for hunting. They could then easily take the furs back to Trois Riveres by the same route.  Once the fur trade was developed, it attracted migrants, both noble and commoner from France. A few years later, the first female religious community settled in Quebec in 1639.  The Ursulines founded schools for young girls, to whom they taught for several years.

Paul Comeney, Sieur de Maisonneuve founded Montreal  in 1642, with the help of Jeanne Mance, who helped  with the colony’s survival. The religious communities played an important role in the establishment of different colonies on the territory. They helped educate new comers and inhabitants, as well as natives. Some communities founded hospitals to cure the sick.

In 1643, 109 years after the first landings by Cartier, there were only about 300 people in Quebec and 500 in 1663. France finally gave land incentives  for 2,000 migrants  over the next decade.  Early marriages were encouraged in New France, and youths of 18 took 14 year old girls for their wives. (See the Les Filles’ du roi below)

The pleas of the colonists of New France for assistance in their struggle with the Iroquois Indians were answered in 1665 with the arrival of the first French Regular troops in Canada, known as the Carignan-Salieres Regiment. Between June and September 1665, some 1200 soldiers and their officers arrived in Quebec, under the leadership of Lt. General Alexander de Prouville, Sieur de Tracy.

Francois Chagnon was the first known Chagnon to settle in New France (Quebec). He came as a Carignan-Saliere Soldier to help defend the new colonists from the Iroquois Indians and then permanently settled there.

Most persons of French Canadian descent can claim one or more of these brave soldiers as ancestors. In addition to the list of soldiers and officers on the official “roll” of the Regiment, there were many others who participated in the successful campaign against the Iroquois, including many militiamen who resided in the colony

A series of forts established by the Regiment along the Richelieu River, along with the success of its second campaign into the land of the Mohawk Indians, led to a long period of peace for the colony, which permitted it to prosper.  King Louis XIV’s plan for  a  permanent settlement of many of the soldiers and officers in Canada and over 450 of these troops remained in the colony, many of whom married the newly arrived filles du roi.

In 1759, a major battle took place on the field that is known today as the Plains of Abraham. The English were well organized and defeated the French, who were less in number and less organized. The French then had to live under the rules of the English, and most of all use their language that many  of New France inhabitants did  not understand. In 1774, luckily, the Quebec Act was signed. This  law gave Quebec its current territory and, among other things, restored the French civil law in the province.

Throughout the years, the inhabitants lived under the seigniorial regime, and large estates were built. Religion took more and more power in the province, but in the 1960s, the revolution tranquille (quiet revolution)   changed a great many things. Several  social, political and economical changes happened in Quebec, which gave birth to today’s culture in Quebec.

Today, Quebec is a united province, but its inhabitants also have a distinctive culture that is different from the rest of Canada because of their French origins as well as the French language.