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The Chevalier de Montmagny

First Governor of New France

By Jean-Claude Dubé Translated by Elizabeth Rapley

Publication Year: 2005

In The Chevalier de Montmagny, Jean-Claude Dubé documents the extraordinary career of Charles Huault de Montmagny, first governor of the colony of New France. Born in Paris in 1601, and educated by the Jesuits, Montmagny studied law at the Université d'Orléans, joined the Order of Malta, and enjoyed a colourful career as a Hospitalier privateer in the Mediterranean, before arriving in New France in the spring of 1636.

While Montmagny wasted little time in applying the experience he gained fighting the Ottoman Turks to New France's disputes with the Iroquois, he has also been credited with playing a key role in both ensuring the survival of the colony and the entrenchment of a religious elite. His exploits caught the imagination of Cyrano de Bergerac, who later cast Montmagny as a character in his novel L'autre monde.

This well-documented study - which in its original French edition was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award in 1999 - adds an important dimension to our understanding of the social, religious, and political history of New France.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Front Matter

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vii

List of Tables

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pp. ix-x

List of Maps

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pp. xi

List of Illustrations

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv

... first of all to thank sincerely all those who have helped me in the research, long and demanding, that I had to carry on to prepare this biography. I mention some of these people in the French version of the book. I just want to recall here the assistance that I received from the staff in charge of the rich collections of documents preserved in the National Library of Malta, and I mention in particular the name of Mr ...

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pp. xvii-xxii

... biographical notice, the first to be included in a published work, appears from 1725 on in the celebrated Dictionnaire historique of Louis Moreri.1 It is very brief, since the mention of Charles is part of a genealogy of the Huault line. The essential elements in the life of the first official governor of New France are indicated, but the historic truth ...

List of abbreviations used in the tables

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pp. xxiii

List of abbreviations used in the notes

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pp. xxv-xxvi

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1. The Ancestry of the Chevalier de Montmagny

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pp. 3-36

If we accept this version, we are in the presence of a family whose upward movement was already well-advanced by the middle of the fifteenth century, through military service to the king, through possession of seigneuries both in Touraine (La Huauldiere, in particular, being a place name that apparently had links to the patronymic Huault)2 ...

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2. The Huault de Montmagny family in the Seventeenth Century

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pp. 37-62

... November 1623,1 Charles Huault, "received as a Knight of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem presently in the Island of Malta,'2 was on his way to Paris. He stayed with his brother Louis on the rue des Barres. The purpose of his journey, "before making the vows of religion in the aforesaid Order,"3 was to come to an agreement with his brothers and his sister regarding the goods that he had inherited from ...

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3. A First Direction: The Robe

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pp. 63-84

... it was a question of choosing his life's direction, Charles Huault de Montmagny considered law first; family pressure, both from his father's and his mother's side, carried him in this direction. However, there remained an alternative solution, the Church; there, again, earlier examples were not lacking, as we have seen. He hesitated between the two. ...

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4. Corsair for Christ

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pp. 85-116

... Charles Huault left Paris for the island of Malta. He had chosen the definitive direction of his life, even though he did not make his solemn profession in the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem until 1651, twenty-nine years later.2 Did he truly know what lay ahead of him? He had been able to develop an approximate idea of the "chivalrous life" in talking with members of the Order, of whom ...

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5. From the Mediterranean to the Saint Lawrence

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pp. 117-142

... spectacular reorientation of his career, Brother Huault de Montmagny was named, perhaps as early as the end of 1635, governor - the first of that title - of New France. The territory entrusted to him, the Saint Lawrence River valley, was dominated by a stretch of water presenting an extreme contrast with the Mediterranean that he had now left forever. ...

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6. Onontio

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pp. 143-194

Onontio, literally translated, signified Mons Magnus,3 or Montmagny. And this name would afterwards serve for all the governors of the French regime. The Amerindians, according to the Relations<, even attached poetic connotations to this name, "High Mountain." Onontio has "a voice of thunder," one of them commented;4 for another, "he is ...

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7. "Wise and Prudent Conduct"in the Internal Management of the Colony

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pp. 195-232

The royal authority gave as its principal reason: "You have acquired so great a reputation by your wise and prudent conduct." It was the third renewal of his mandate. In 1639 the Jesuits had expressed satisfaction at "the continuation of his government."2 In 1642, the king, satisfied with his "services," had reappointed him and granted him a pension of 3,000 livres.3 What is more, this reputation of ...

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8. Reality and Fiction

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pp. 233-256

... of the Jesuits for 1648 reported that "on the 20th day [of August], feast of Saint Bernard, M. d'Ailleboust dropped anchor before Quebec, and was received as Governor."1 Montmagny's commission, already renewed three times, was not renewed in 1648. The previous year, at the suggestion of the Societe de Notre-Dame de ...

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9. On the Service of the Order of Malta in the Antilles

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pp. 257-288

... his return to the mother country at the end of November 1648, Montmagny would find a France very different from the one he had left twelve years earlier, in 1636, the year that the Spanish occupied the town of Corbie less than a hundred kilometres from Paris. Two points will help to explain the change which his career was to experience: the new political climate, and colonial realities in ...

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Conclusion: 'Faitz bien et laisse dire'

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pp. 289-294

... the investigators of the Order of Malta visited the parish church of Montmagny in the springtime of 1622, they found, "in the main window behind the grand altar/' beneath the arms of Pierre Huault, the chevalier's great-grandfather, "two scrolls of silver on which is written in gold, in ancient lettering, 'Faitz bien et laisse dire'" - do ...


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pp. 295-358


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pp. 359-362


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pp. 363-376


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pp. 377-381

E-ISBN-13: 9780776617053
E-ISBN-10: 0776617052
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776605593
Print-ISBN-10: 0776605593

Page Count: 430
Publication Year: 2005

Volume Title: 10