Canadian Military History Gateway
Subject > Soldiers, Warriors and Leaders > Roles and Professions
Date > 1500
Resource Type > Document
Professional soldiers were a recent development in the Europe of 1500. They fought for pay, not for loot or feudal obligation, and could have firearms as weapons.
The soldiers accompanying early expeditions worked for private businesses, not for the state. Many were veterans of European wars, or gentlemen seeking land or gold.
Soldiers were organized into companies of about 50. Their leader, the company captain, was responsible for recruiting, training and disciplining his men.
During Cartier's three expeditions to Canada, there were more and more soldiers among his men. The later expeditions were very well armed.
Cartier's men wore the livery of Brittany, the French province from which they sailed.
English disruption of Spanish power at sea helped force the decline of the Newfoundland fishery. English pirates made many attacks on the Basques.
During the later 16th Century, large Basque fleets hunted whales off Labrador. Seasonal settlements supported this lucrative fishery.
There was sometimes fighting between the northern (French) Basques and the southern (Spanish) Basques. As well, war between France and Spain also affected the armed fishing fleets. The Inuit ashore were also hostile to the fishermen.