Canadian Military History Gateway
Organization > National Defence
Subject > Politics and Society
Date > 1600 > 1630-1639
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.
Pikemen’s armour and pikes were sent to Quebec during the 1620s. The armour appears to have been worn by some soldiers until the later 1630s although it seems the pikes were hardly ever used. In Europe, pikemen were still seen in battlefields, albeit in decreasing numbers, right until the end of the 17th century. In America, pikes or halberds might have been used by a few ceremonial guards and sergeants but were not otherwise carried.
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 the colony of Massachusetts formed militia regiments in 1637, the new militiamen imitated European organization and tactics as closely as possible. This was a complete contrast with the militiamen in New France. Reconstruction by Don Troiani. (United States National Guard)
Under Governor Montmagny, relations with the Iroquois soured further. Outright war broke out in 1641.
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.
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.
Military men such as this French officer of circa 1635 wore civilian clothes. The arms they carried denoted their ‘profession of arms’. Early probate records show that soldiers in New France did the same and wore civilian clothes while carrying arms and military equipment. Officers in Canada were usually armed with swords and pistols.