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Date > 1500 > 1530-1539

Subject > Weapons, Equipment and Fortifications

Portuguese archer and, at left, a crossbowman, early 16th century

Type: Image

Archers and crossbowmen were commonly found on ships and in the early overseas settlements of the first half of the 16th century. Such soldiers were most likely part of the early Portuguese forays to Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island. (Museu de Arte Antiguo, Lisbon)

Site: National Defence

Jacques Cartier ordered cannon firings to impress the Indians

Type: Image

The Iroquois were surprised and fearful at first of Cartier's cannon, but their awe did not last very long.

Site: National Defence

Portuguese ships, early 16th century

Type: Image

Such ships would have carried the Portuguese who explored what is now Canada’s east coast. (Museu de Arte Antiguo, Lisbon)

Site: National Defence

Voyages Of Discovery

Type: Document

Many European expeditions were sent to explore North America during the sixteenth century. The explorers were armed, and their ocean-going ships were a revolutionary technology.

Site: National Defence

Difficult Relations

Type: Document

Cartier's expedition got along poorly with the Iroquois at Quebec. Discovery of what was falsely thought to be gold led to discord between Roberval and Cartier. Eventually, the fortified settlement was abandoned.

Site: National Defence

Harquebusier, 16th century

Type: Image

Portable firearms such as the one used by this harquebusier became common in European armies during the 16th century even though they were complicated to handle and slow to fire. Pikemen, crossbowmen, archers and swordsmen continued to be present on battlefields in the old as well as the new world.

Site: National Defence

Sixteenth-century Amerindian warriors from central Canada

Type: Image

Three types of costumes common to all Amerindian tribes are shown. Reconstruction by David Rickman. (Canadian Department of National Defence)

Site: National Defence

16th century ‘rondelle’

Type: Image

Some 200 ‘rondelles’ - round shields carried by infantry swordsmen, more commonly called ‘rondaches’ - formed part of the armament sent to Canada in 1541. Swordsmen still formed an important part of infantry contingents in mid-16th century European armies.

Site: National Defence

Spanish steel helmet and breastplate, 16th century

Type: Image

Such armour was found on the Spanish galleons going to Labrador in the second half of the 16th century. (Museo Casa Pizzaro, Trujillo, Spain)

Site: National Defence

An Increasing Military Presence

Type: Document

During Cartier's three expeditions to Canada, there were more and more soldiers among his men. The later expeditions were very well armed.

Site: National Defence