Last week I introduced you to my new series Down in the Bayou with an overview of French history in Louisiana. Although Louisiana is a state in modern day United States it was in fact the term used to describe all of New France during the 17th through 18th centuries.
The French began their claims in the New World with the expeditions of Jacques Cartier.
Jacques Cartier was born on the same day that Christopher Columbus sailed for his first voyage in 1492. He was born in Saint-Malo, a fortified sea port in North France that lies on the English Channel. He was of Briton descent meaning his ancestry came from Brittany in France.
Jacques Cartier learned to navigate in Dieppe. Afterwards, he sailed with fishermen to Newfoundland. He also accompanied Giovanni da Verrazzano on at least one of his voyages.
In 1534, Cartier met with King Francis I of France with one goal in mind. His family were prominent watchmakers in Europe who were seeking new places to trade. Cartier wanted to find the passage that Giovanni did not. He believed the Northwest passage through the New World to Asia would open new trade routes for his family. King Francis I had other plans. He commissioned Cartier to take two ships and 61 men to the New World in order to find spices, gold and the Northwest Passage. Cartier left port, set sail across the Arctic Ocean and found Newfoundland.
Join me next week as we discuss Cartier's second voyage.