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Notes and Comments AUBERT DELACHESNAYE ANDTHEDUTCHFURTRADE 1695-8 In the legalandillegalCanadianfur tradeof the latter half of the seventeenth centuryoneoftenmeetsthe nameof CharlesAubert de la Chesnaye, oneof the fewoutstanding fur traders permanently domiciled in Canada.He arrived as a poor representative of a combination of Rouenfur tradersduringthe I65OS , playedan importantrole in the fur trade of La Rochelleduring the 166os, andsoon became a millionaire in a colony whichwasknownto bepoor in capitaland evenpoorerin commercial undertakings. The basisfor Aubert's sudden riseto wealthwasthefur trade,whichhe combined with theimportof merchandise and later with the exportof agriculturalproduce.In a previous articleit wasdemonstrated thattheFrench-Canadian fur tradewasstrongly influenced bythe Dutch fur tradeinterests duringthe firsthalf of the seventeenth century3Is it possible that Aubert,a leaderof the Canadianfur tradeduring the second half of this century,wasalsoconnected with the commercialinterests of the United Provinces of the Netherlands? In the summarized biography of CharlesAubertthereismentionof hisconneetions with several Europeancentres of commerce, amongthem,Amsterdam. This information, based on Frenchdocuments of a morepubliccharacter, does not provideany insightinto Aubert'sforeignrelations. 2 Charles'second son, Louis,is mentionedas his father'srepresentative in Antwerp. This fact does not seemto haveanygreatimportance. Followingits earlypredominance in the world of trade and commerce, Antwerpafter i585 wasreducedto a thirdrate seaport whenthe Dutch closed the mouthof the Scheldtand cut off the Spanish forces of the Southern Netherlandfromtheir outletto the North Sea. JanKupp,'La Dissolution dela Compagnie duM. deMonts,'Revued'histoire del'Amlrique[ranraise, xxxa,3, d•c. I97o Dictionaryo[ CanadianBiography(Torontox969),n, o6-35 Vol. L•VNo 3 September i973 338 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW Exceptfor Louis'connections with the nobilityof the SpanishNetherlands, thereis apparentlyno further informationavailableon the rolewhich Charles Aubert'ssonplayedin the Canadianfur trade.Throughthe work of my cooperator ,SimonHart, the archivistof Amsterdam,somelight can now be shedon Aubert'sdependency on the fur trade of Holland. Perhaps it maybe usefulto let thedocuments tellthestory. a On the •5 Januaryx696 threepartiesappearedbeforean Amsterdam notary, HendrickOutgers,in orderto settlelegallysomedifferences whichhad arisen duringthe previous year.The firstwastheAmsterdam merchant, JanWillinck. Willinck wasa Mennonite,in the Frenchact drawnup for LouisAubertcalled 'Annabaptiste,' a fact whichseems to contradictthe idea that Mennonites did not venturein trade,certainlynot in the fur trade,whichhad a highlyspeculative character.The secondwasLouis FrancoisAubert, secondsonof Charles Aubert de la Chesnaye,and the third was the agent of Jan Willinck, the Amsterdam brokerMarten Struyck.ThroughStruyckJanWillinckhadbought from LouisAubert the quantityof twelvethousand beaverskins with an option onbehalfof LouisAubertto beallowedto raisethenumberof skins to eighteen thousand. It had beenstipulated that Willinckwouldbe the preferential buyer of the additional six thousand skins but under certain conditions Aubert could sellthem to others.The complete salecomprised two hundredand twenty-five parcelsor eighteenthousand beaverskins.This sale,contracted duringthe earlymonthsof the year x695 , had beenoneof manymadeby Aubertduring the precedingyearsto Willinck and other Amsterdammerchants. Previous dealshad createda goodrelationship, but in x695something had gonewrong. This explains why the partiesduringthe firstmonthof x696appeared before a notary. Beforecontinuing with the contents of the documents somefactsof more generalknowledge shouldbe pointedout. Dutch merchants boughtup large quantities of Canadianbeaverwhichwereshipped to Russiavia Archangel. The superiorcraftsmanship of the Russianfur workers,and evenmore the cheapness of their labour,made it possible for the merchants of the Low Countries to have beaver wool extracted from the beaver skins and at the same time to make a financialgain from the wool and the beaverfurswhen they returned from Moscow. Most of the beaver wool went to France where it was usedin the hat makers'industrywhile the preparedbeaverskins found their way to the French,English,or Central Europeanfur markets.TheseDutch activitiesarousedthe jealousyof certainFrenchcirclesin i669. The French ambassador to the Netherlands, Pomponne, mentionedthe Dutch practiceto his government. A Frenchreporton the Frencheconomy writtenby Bishop Huet in •7•5 againmadementionof theDutchpredominance in the French fur trade.In the 175os the Frencheconomist, Accarias de S•rionne,presented the Dutch fur trade asa shiningexampleto the Frenchcommercial world of 3 Amsterdam CityArchives, NotarialArchives, Protocol of HendrickOutgets, 26Jan. x696, no 52 NOTES AND COMMENTS 339 makinglargesumsof moneyfrom a smalloutlay.All threeFrenchcommentatorspointedto theabilityof Dutchcommerce to buylargequantifies of furs because of the possibility of receiving long-termand cheapcreditsfrom the Amsterdam Bourse?This fact was of specialimportanceduring the years •69o-•7eo when the Canadianbeaverexportto Francehad causedan enormousglut on the latter'sfur market.The merchants of La Rochelle,and later a combinationof Paris bankers,had attempted to circumventthe Dutch controlof the Russiantrade but finallyhad to admit...


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