Canadian Military History Gateway
Subject > Soldiers, Warriors and Leaders > Roles and Professions
Date > 1500 > 1550-1559
Resource Type > Document
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.
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.