Canadian Military History Gateway
Organization > National Defence
Subject > Politics and Society
Date > 1600 > 1620-1629
Both Britain and France needed strong navies to protect their coasts, fishing fleets and colonies. The peak of French naval power was during the 1690s, when it dominated the coasts of England. Defeated in 1692, the French navy declined in quality and strength from that point on.
These French soldiers wear a style of clothing common through much of Western Europe in the early seventeenth century. Note the musket rest carried by the man at left, and the pike carried by the man in the background. Mid-19th century engraving after a drawing by Alfred de Marbot.
Introduction by W.A.B. Douglas, Director Directorate of History, Program Chairman. Articles in a variety of languages including: English, German, French, Italian, Portugese, Spanish, Russian, Greek.
When Champlain surrendered it in 1629, Quebec was only a small unfortified hamlet and could not hope to resist the much stronger English privateers led by the Kirke brothers. There was no fighting.
Construction of this building started in May 1624. The model shows the stone structure with its two corner turrets as it was circa 1625. The habitation was abandoned in 1633 following a fire.
A second colony at Quebec, led by Champlain, saw much struggle. It changed hands, first to the English, then to a new French trading company. Attempts were made to fortify and strengthen the settlement.
This reconstruction shows one of the rare soldiers found in New France during the first decades of the French Regime. Sent to the colony by one of the trading companies that obtained commercial monopolies, this man's costume and harquebus date him between 1610 and 1620. In 1609-1610, Champlain campaigned with a group of French soldiers who each wore a 'pikeman's corselet' for protection against the arrows of the Amerindians. This armour was normally worn only by pikemen in Europe. In Canada, between 1610 and 1630, French soldiers used harquebuses or muskets, and they always wore armour for protection. Reconstruction by Michel Pétard. (Canadian Department of National Defence)
The population of Acadia was not militarized in the way French colonists in Canada were. Relations with the local Amerindians were good, while internal social conflict and long periods of English occupation discouraged the development of a strong militia.
The first permanent French colony was in Acadia. It had good relations with the local Amerindians, but suffered from struggles with England.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the European wars that had touched the eastern coasts of North and South America left the Pacific untroubled. From the European point of view, the region was largely unexplored, despite being bordered by Spanish colonies.