Canadian Military History Gateway
Resource Type > Image
Date > 1500 > 1560-1569
This picture of a ship is engraved on a plank of the galleon San Juan, which sank in Red Bay, Labrador, in 1565. (Parks Canada)
The weather shown hitting these Spanish ships was encountered by the Basque whalers based in Labrador during the second half of the 16th century. Occasionally, ships were lost. One such was the San Juan, sunk in Red Bay, Labrador in 1565.
The crewmen of this 16th century galleon are using several devices to discover their position. Tools like the arbalete and nocturlabe were used at night to measure the position of the stars in the sky. Based on these measurements, navigators could determine where they were on the globe. (National Library of Canada 18025)
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.
Three types of costumes common to all Amerindian tribes are shown. Reconstruction by David Rickman. (Canadian Department of National Defence)
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.
Such armour was found on the Spanish galleons going to Labrador in the second half of the 16th century. (Museo Casa Pizzaro, Trujillo, Spain)
Armour was worn by senior officers during the 16th century and would have been brought by those in the 1541 Roberval expedition.
Europeans were also acquainted with the savagery of torture. It was routinely used by judicial authorities to obtain confessions from suspects. Such practices were occasionally resorted to by tribunals in New France. Public executions of the guilty in Europe could also be horrendous torture spectacles. Religious Inquisition tribunals practiced it mercilessly on supposed heretics in the name of Christianity as shown in this print.