Jacques Cartier portrait

Jacques Cartier

Jacques Cartier was born in 1491 or 1492 in Brittany. Unfortunately, little is known about Cartier’s childhood, except that he was the son of an official from Saint-Malo. At the age of 29, the French married Mary Catherine des Granches and three years after his marriage he became a navigator in Giovanni da Verrazzano’s expedition. In 1534, Jean La Veneur introduced the explorer to King Francis I with the proposal to organize a trip to America. It was an idea similar to that from 10 years ago, when the king, hoping to discover the way to China wanted to commission this type of expedition, will give Verrazzano, but the expedition did not take place then. Cardinal La Veneur knew, however, that Cartier had sufficient skills to lead ships to discover new lands. On April 20, 1534, Jacques Cartier set out on an expedition to reach Asia and discover gold and other precious metals. Under his command he had 2 ships and 61 people. It took Carters 20 days to cross the ocean. After this time, he reached Newfoundland, Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Magdalen Island (where his crew has killed about 1000 albanos) and to the island of St. Edward. Having sailed these places he finally reached the mainland, where he met the natives for the first time. Most likely, he tried to establish commercial relations. On July 24, he placed a 10-meter cross with the words “Long live the King of France” on the Gaspé peninsula, symbolizing the takeover of the territory on behalf of Francis I. It is true that the Indians from the Stadaconé settlement were aware of the intentions of strangers to a certain extent, but they were still focused on them. positively. The chief of the tribe, Donnacon, even agreed to capture two of his sons and take them to France, provided they returned with goods from Europe suitable for trade. The boys eventually learned French and became translators of the traveler. Cartier returned to France in September 1534, confident he had arrived in China.

A year later, Jacques Cartier set off on the second trip. This time, he had three ships, 110 people and two translators, the sons of Donnacon. This time, the Frenchman decided to move up the river St. Lawrence. Having sailed to Stadaconé, he left the largest ships in the nearby port and set out the smallest of them to Hochelaga, where he arrived on October 2. It was a much more populated city than the Stadaconé already discovered. For this reason, the discoverers were welcomed by countless crowds of onlookers. Unfortunately, they encountered river cascades that made it impossible for them to continue their journey. Cartier, convinced that the cascades are on the Northwest Passage, he believed that this was the only obstacle on the way to China. After two days, Cartier decided to return to Stadconé, where he decided to spend the winter. The crew strengthened their fort, collected firewood and rubbed the food with salt to extend its usefulness. From November 1535 to April 1536, the fleet could not move forward, due to the frozen river, apparently the thickness of the ice was up to 2 meters. In addition, scurvy raged among the Iroquois and French, which decimated the population. Fortunately, Cartier found a cure that saved the rest of the crew. In May 1536, Cartier set off with his companions on his return journey. He decided to kidnap Donnacon so that this could be proof of the discovery of new areas. The sailor also wanted Donnacon to tell the story of the mythical Kingdom of Saguenay. On 14 May 1536, the expedition reached its native port, which crowned them with more than a year’s and the most profitable expedition.

On October 17, 1540, the King ordered Cartier the third journey, the main purpose of which was the colonization of Canada. However, January 15, 1541 Cartier was “eroded” from the position of the commander of the expedition by his friend Francis I, and a certain Jean-François de La Rocque de Roberval. Cartier became his chief navigator, but while waiting for supplies and artillery, the commander of the expedition let him move forward. In May 1541, Cartier left the port of Saint-Malo for the third time with 5 stats at its disposal. This time, however, the expedition had a completely different goal than before. The desire to discover the way to Asia has been forgotten. This time, they wanted to find the legendary Kingdom of Saguenay and settle the banks of the St. Lawrence. When Cartier reached Stadacone, the reaction of the indigenous inhabitants of this settlement was not very encouraging, so the Frenchman gave up the idea of ​​building a settlement there and decided to go further. After a few kilometers up the river, he decided to establish a settlement in a previously chosen place (this settlement is now one of Quebec’s districts in Canada). Crew members collected all the stones that looked valuable and noble, with the hope that they found gold or diamonds. It turned out, however, that they were actually less valuable stones. On September 2, 1541, two ships were sent on the way back loaded with minerals. Less than 5 days later Cartier went on a reconnaissance to find Saguenay. Once again he was stopped by the bad weather and cascades at the height of Hochelaga, so he could not reach Ottawa. Cartier decided to return to the fort, where the situation surprised him greatly (or even scared him). It turned out that the Iroquois tribe had killed over 30 Frenchmen. In fact, little is known about what happened because there are few records from the winter of 1541-1542. Due to the loss of people and an insufficient number of crew, Cartier decided to return to France. On the way, however, he encountered Roberval, who insisted that the expedition would continue to look for the Kingdom of Saguenay. Cartier, however, was against this decision and, under the cover of the night, he slipped away on his way back to his homeland. The traveler lived all the time in the belief that his ships contain valuable crumbs.

The third trip to North America was his last. Cartier spent the rest of his life in Saint-Malo. He died on September 1, 1557, at the age of 65. The most likely cause of death was typhus. Most likely, Cartier was the first to use the name “Canada”. Samuel de Champlain was the continuator of his work.

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