The world in which John Smith and Samuel de Champlain grew up was one mired in religious conflict.  The France of Champlain was a battleground of sectarian violence and political strife; and although less divided, Smith’s England was also challenged from within and without.  Nonetheless, in both countries the end of the sixteenth century was also a time of exploration and new horizons, a time of uncertainty and possibility.  Exploring new lands and finding new wealth was coupled with the negative impact of sectarian violence.  All of this intertwined and played a major role in the development of these two men.

For the greater part of the sixteenth century religious conflict had hindered France’s overseas exploration.  In the opening years of the century France was very active in seeking out new territories.  In 1524, for example, Giovanni da Verrazzano coasted much of the Eastern Seaboard of North America; and the 1530s and 40s saw Jacques Cartier explore and attempt to settle the St. Lawrence Valley.  However, after the failure of Cartier and Roberval in 1543, religious issues arising from the Reformation quickly swept over France, and the next 60 years were spent in a number of religious civil wars.

This did not mean that all interest in exploration stopped in France.  The sixteenth century was an “age of discovery” for Europeans (and North Americans) and it was not difficult for educated French men to learn about the overseas travels of men from other kingdoms such as Spain and Portugal.  Furthermore, French and Basque fishers were heavily involved in fishing off the coast of North America, bringing back stories and myths that would have circulated throughout coastal towns. [1] Champlain himself provided an example of the types of myths that would have circulated the wharfs and streets of France, when at the end of Des Sauvages he recounted the aboriginal tale of the Gougou.  This was a “monstre espouuantable” who “auoit la forme d’vne femme… d’vne telle grandeur, qu’ils me disoient que le bout des mats de notre vaisseau ne luy fust pas venu iusques à la ceinture… & que souuent il a deuoré & deuore, beaucoup de Sauuages, lesquels il met dedans vne grande poche quant il les peut attraper & puis les mange.”[2] These myths, which existed before and after Champlain traveled to America, would have only become more numerous as Frenchmen began to have greater interaction with the aboriginal peoples.  Just as the wars were reaching their end, private exploration, and the tales from those enterprises, was paving the way for France’s official entrance into North America.

When France returned to peace in the late 1590s the push for exploration and colonisation began again.  In 1598, at his request, the Marquis de la Roche received papers from King Henri IV granting “authority over ‘Canada, Hochelega, Terresneuves, Labrador, rivière de la grand Baye, de Norembergue et terres adjacentes.’”[3] After a preliminary voyage in 1597 la Roche decided to build a colony on Sable Island – signalling to Henri (by 1599 according to Quinn) that he was not interested in the development of continental North America.[4] In 1600 Henri tried again by granting a commercial monopoly to Pierre Chauvin.  The first winter dealt a heavy blow to Chauvin’s attempt at Tadoussac, thus foiling that endeavour, and by 1603 la Roche’s colonists had mutinied and returned to France.

This was the French overseas world during Samuel de Champlain’s early years.  Although there are few details about his early life it is generally believed that he was born around 1570.[5] The events surrounding his birth are only known in the wider context of the period outlined on the previous pages.  His birthplace, Brouage, was a town inhabited mainly by Protestants, and the Old Testament connotations of his first name suggest that this was the theology with which he was brought up.[6] However, the heavy emphasis of Catholic doctrine in his writings suggests a conversion at some period in his early life, and definitely before he traveled to America.  His age and faith raise interesting questions about the impact of the Wars of Religion on Champlain’s outlook.  How did he perceive issues of faith growing up in the aftermath of the St. Bartolomew’s Day massacre, the bloodiest event of the Religious Wars?  Answers to these questions are lost to us, but the influence that these tumultuous years may have had on him are questions always worth considering.

Growing up in Brouage would have also exposed the young Champlain to information from fishing vessels returning from the North American coast.  Although modern-day Brouage is kilometres away from the coast, in Champlain’s day the Atlantic touched the town’s walls and its salt marshes were used in the fisheries.  A 1601 document demonstrated that Brouage was a port where fishers purchased salt to be used in the cod fishery. The document recorded the Catherine, sailing under Robert Enault, was “prest à partir du premier temps convenable qu’il plaira à Dieu envoier, aller querir son sel en Baye, Brouage ou Espagne pour faire le voiage de la pesche des morues…”[7] That Atlantic fishing boats stopped in Brouage suggests that the town was frequented by people familiar with the North American coast, and probably increasingly with the St. Lawrence valley.  The frequency of these sailors’ visits may have helped to enlighten an inquisitive young man such as Champlain about the New World.  Morris Bishop has painted a vivid picture of the Brouage of Champlain’s youth: “And surely the boy watched the sailors, ritually drunk before affronting the dangers of the Atlantic.  He heard strange foreign songs bawled in the streets.  He saw the national battles that came tumbling out of taverns.  He learned the lingua franca of the sailors, and he listened open-mouthed to the reminiscences of Brouageais who had made the journey to Canada and Brazil.”[8] This was pure conjecture on the part of Bishop.  However, without direct evidence regarding Champlain’s youth, such imaginative descriptions are as close as one can come to understanding his influences during this time.  Because of the lack of solid information, it is difficult to speculate much further than this.

The other major issue that developed out of the Wars of Religion was Henri IV’s accession to the throne.  On this issue Champlain’s perspective was much clearer.  In fact the first time in which Champlain enters the historical record is in financial documents for military service in the royal army.  Of primary importance in this group of records, dated between March and December 1595, is one that states: “A Samuel de Champlain, ayde du sieur Hardy marechal des logis de l’armée du roy en cedit païs, la somme de neuf escuz pour certain voiage secret qu’il a faict important le service du Roy.”[9] Being paid for taking a secret voyage suggests that Champlain’s affiliation to Henri’s cause in Brittany was based on a strong sense of loyalty to the contested monarch.  It also suggests – as David Quinn has shown – “we must, from this time onwards, regard him [Champlain] in one of his primary manifestations as Henry’s principal overseas intelligence agent.”[10] In this light Champlain’s first work, Des Sauvages can be seen as a publicized version of a royal intelligence report.  This interpretation of Champlain gives his role in these voyages much greater importance and helps explain why his suggestions to explore Acadia in 1604 and then return to the St. Lawrence in 1608 were supported by his superiors – a fact that looks rather strange when one thinks of the credence that these men would have given to Champlain if he were considered a mere observer.[11]

By viewing Champlain as a royal informant – a position that would have involved a wide knowledge base of previous experiences and education – it is possible to see how he might have developed his own views towards North America before his travels.  Conrad Heidenreich observed that the French successes in colonisation “were the result of a total rethinking of how exploration should be carried out, by a group of men – among them notably Champlain – who were far more flexible in their attitudes and thinking than Cartier and Roberval, who preceded them.”[12] For Champlain this rethinking may have begun at an early age through the fishers who stopped in Brouage.  However, his first formal introduction to ‘New World’ life was probably during an early voyage to the West Indies, possibly recounted in Brief Discours, but there is little evidence supporting his authorship of this document.

In the West Indies Champlain may have made a number of observations that could have helped him formulate his own philosophy towards the native people.  Although the authenticity of Brief Discours has been seriously challenged, the work does provide some insight into what Champlain might have seen.  For example, when the author arrived at the recently sacked Puerto Rico, it was the native people who were rebuilding the walls while the Spaniards remained in hiding.[13] Such an experience may have helped Champlain realize the benefit of aboriginal alliances.  Furthermore, in Mexico City the author observed, “Ie croy, à ce que j’ay peu juger, qu’il y a en ladicte ville douze à quinze mil Espaignolz habitans, et six fois autant d’Indiens, qui sont crestiens aussy habitans…”[14] Near the end of the reconnaissance he wrote, “du Roy d’Espaigne, s’il n’y donnoit ordre, ilz seroient en aussy barbare creance comme les autres.”[15] For the author of this text three things are clear:  1) That the native people could be converted to Christianity; 2) That the native people can outnumber Europeans while maintaining a certain level of peace; and 3) That European settlement brings civility.  All three are important observations for someone planning to do what Champlain did.  Although none of these observations can be directly linked to Champlain’s actual worldview, as he does not provide us with such personal statements, his experience in the West Indies would have played at least some role in his thinking regarding the people of North America.

The individuals who influenced Champlain help to develop further our understanding of the preconceptions with which Champlain arrived in North America.  Samuel Eliot Morison claimed, without much to support the assertion, that Verrazzano’s writings influenced Champlain.[16] Later he pointed out that Champlain had fought under Martin Frobisher during an assault on Fort Crozat near Brest – a connection that makes the mind wander about the knowledge Champlain might have had coming to North America.[17] However, these connections are just as vague as many of the other suggestions that have been made in this chapter.  The clearest example of knowledge with which Champlain went to North America was that written down by his predecessor, Jacques Cartier.

Yet Cartier’s influence was not necessarily valued.  Marie-Christine Gomez-Géraud emphasized Champlain’s disappointment with Cartier’s voyages.  In Champlain’s view, she suggested, Cartier did not do enough to promote further exploration or colonisation.[18] This opinion sheds some interesting light on how Champlain began Des Sauvages: “Monseignevr, – Bien que plusieurs ayèt escript quelque chose du païs de Canadas, ie n’ay voulu pourtant m’arrester à leur dire, & ay expressément esté sur les lieux pour pouuoir rendre fidelle tesmoignage de la verité, laquelle vous verrez (s’il vous plaist)…”[19] Right at the beginning of his work Champlain did not agree with how his predessessors had dealt with the North American situation.  Unfortunately he was not specific enough for us to know his grievances with certainty.  However, as one progresses through his works a number of references to Jacques Cartier arise which help to flesh out his cryptic introduction.  In Des Sauvages Champlain only made one reference to Cartier, stating at which point he was going beyond his voyages.  However, as the editor points out, Champlain was mistaken in this observation as the point where he made this statement was at the River Jacques Cartier – it was well known that Cartier reached the island of Montreal which is well beyond this point.

This does not discount Champlain’s knowledge of Cartier’s work.  What this observation makes clear is that Champlain was using Cartier as a sort of gauge for his own voyage.  Although his motives are unclear as to why he wanted to go beyond Cartier, it is apparent that this was a goal of his.  In the account of his 1611 voyage it becomes even more apparent that Champlain had a decent knowledge of Cartier’s voyages and had developed some of his own ideas from reading them.  Champlain wrote:

Dauantage ledit Quartier au voyage qu’il a fait ne passa iamais ledit grand saut S. Louys, & ne descouurit rien Nort ny Su, dans les terres du fleuue S. Laurēs: ses relations n’ē donnent aucun tesmoignage, & n’y est parlé que de la riuiere du Saquenay, des trois riuieres & sainte Croix, où il hyuerna en vn fort proche de nostre habitatiō: car il ne l’eust obmis nō plus que ce qu’il a descrit, qui monstre qu’il a laissé tout le haut du fleuue S. Laurens, depuis Tadoussac iusques au grand saut, difficile a desouurir les terres, & qu’il ne s’est voulu hasarder n’y laiser ses barques pour s’i aduēturer: de sorte que cela est tousiours demeuré inutile, sinō depuis quatre ans que nous y auons fait nostre habitation de Quebec, où apres l’auoir faite edifier, ie me mis au hazard de passer ledit saut pour assister les sauuages en leurs geurres, y enuoyer des hommes pour cognoistre les peuples, leurs façon[s] de viure(s) & que c’est que de leurs terres.[20]

Champlain has made the message quite clear: there was a key distinction between himself and Jacques Cartier.  Cartier was not prepared to take risks and use his surroundings to the best advantage, whereas Champlain was determined to learn as much as possible – especially from the people who had been living in that land for millennia.  It is clear that to a certain degree Champlain was attempting to step on the shoulders of giants and to learn from both their successes and failures.

Despite all of these possible influences on Champlain’s views of the aboriginal peoples, one must never forget that he was entering a world where a system had already been established.  Champlain did not create the fur trade, nor did he make significant modifications to the basic model to which it adhered.  The French relied on the aboriginal people to supply the furs before Champlain arrived, as they continued to do once Quebec had achieved a semi-permanent status.  It is possible that despite the previous discussion of Champlain’s European influences, the existence for at least two and a half decades of fur trading prior to his arrival is what played the most significant role in developing his preconceptions of the aboriginal people.  Much of this knowledge could have come from two aboriginal people who were returning to North America on Champlain’s ship after a séjour in France.  During the voyage they may have taught him the basic language that he needed to communicate and instilled in him a sense of the necessity of adhering to the native ways in their land.  When combined with the knowledge from French fishers and traders and his own experience, Champlain’s knowledge of this ‘New World’ would have been more balanced than most.

The early life of Captain John Smith was much less turbulent than that of Champlain.  Smith was about a decade younger than Champlain, born in the early days of January 1580.[21] He came from a well-off yeoman’s family in the Lincolnshire village of Willoughby.[22] During his early childhood England was quickly evolving on the international stage. Queen Elizabeth executed her rival Mary Queen of Scots, ending the possibility of a Catholic coronation in England and therefore bringing on the wrath of the Spanish.  As a product of this, in 1588, with the help of the weather, the English navy beat back the Spanish Armada, further paving the way for English colonisation, and foreshadowing the diminution of Spanish power on the Atlantic.  In those early years of the 1580’s promoters of colonisation such as Richard Hakluyt and Sir Walter Raleigh – who no doubt intellectually influenced Smith in the same way Verrazzano influenced Champlain – wrote treatises in support of overseas venture.  In 1584 a colony was attempted on Roanoke Island off the shores of modern day North Carolina and not far from the Jamestown settlement.  The colony met with little success, the result being that the colonists disappeared completely, being last seen in 1587.  Another English venture to plant a Separatist colony in the Gulf of St. Lawrence met with failure as well in 1597.[23] But all of this would have had little affect on Smith until he read the works of these promoters after the turn of the century, and later began to develop relationships with some of them.

Unlike Champlain, who was brought up on the coast, John Smith was raised in rural England.  He was well off, and it was his generation that would have most likely shed the family’s yeoman heritage by becoming a gentleman.[24] For a boy of his time and place he was well educated in the local town of Louth, and his father’s high status (within this small community) is what brought him to the knowledge of the local lord – Lord Willoughby.  As early as 1589 Lord Willoughby had wanted to take him on business to France, an experience prevented by Smith’s father for scholastic reasons.[25] However, upon his father’s death in 1596 Smith seized the opportunity to leave his apprenticeship and head for adventure on the continent.  In 1597 he took up arms in France as a mercenary in Henri IV’s royal army and once finished in France moved on to the Netherlands, which was still at war with Spain.[26] Unlike Champlain, however, his decision to fight for Henri IV had more to do with being a Protestant and less to do with loyalty to a monarch or a certain sense of national identity.  As will be shown below, Smith’s religion was only a minor influence in his choice of where and when to fight.  First and foremost Smith was out for adventure.

In 1599 Smith appeared back in England, where he became part of Robert and Peregrine Bertie’s (Lord Willoughby’s sons) entourage as they went on a ‘study-tour’ around Europe.  The Berties’ money ran out and Smith was soon looking for a way home. Despite these details, Barbour reminded his readers, “The years 1596 to 1599 are obscure indeed, but his later activities testify to practical military knowledge gained somewhere, about that time.”[27] Upon returning to England Smith “pored over contemporary books on War and honour,” and began focusing on military training.[28]

By contrast with his previous military experience in Western Europe fighting Catholics, Smith shed the violence of Christian against Christian and took on the Turks – a much clearer “enemy of the faith.”  As Alden Vaughan explained in the beginning pages of his book: “Largely indifferent to theological issues, Smith preferred the simpler cause of Christ against the infidels.”[29] It was in Eastern Europe where Smith demonstrated his military acumen, although it should be noted that the only record of these events comes from his own hand, thus raising the question as to the accuracy of some of these tales.  In his first engagement, at the town of Olimpoc, he demonstrated his extensive military knowledge by teaching the commander how to signal, and to further divert his enemy’s attention by lighting a number of strings on the opposite side from where the attack was to come, making it look like matches ready to fire at the besieged town.[30] In another siege Smith fabricated a sort of bomb out of clay pots filled with gunpowder and other volatile substances.[31] This ability to improvise and to think on the spot would become characteristic of Smith’s actions in Jamestown a few years later.

It was not until Smith’s Protestant army was confronted with a direct challenge from the Turks, however, that Smith truly made a name for himself.  During a siege in Transylvania, the Turks issued a challenge to officers for a “Western-style joust” – the loser being declared upon decapitation.  Smith took up the challenge and won.  However, with characteristic pride, one head was not good enough for him, and he issued a challenge for the Turks to regain the head.  Smith won two more duels before the fighting was done.[32] The town was then taken, and Smith received a coat of arms in return.[33] This experience was the high point of his service in Eastern Europe.

After this achievement of ‘gentleman’ status, Smith was transferred to fight in Wallachia.  As he was heading to this new front, his group was ambushed and Smith, wounded, was left for dead.  Realizing from his armour that he was not just an average soldier, scavengers took him to a slave market where he was purchased and then given to his owner’s brother. [34] Here he was beaten and over-worked.  At his first opportunity, he killed his owner while working in some fields and escaped, slowly making his way back to Western Europe.  All we know of these heroic tales have come to us by Smith’s own hands, making us wonder the extent to which Smith wrote these works for the purpose of self-promotion (a theme of chapters two and three).

These, of course, are very brief summaries of the subjects’ early lives and influences, of which we know little.  However, their histories illustrate a common trend between both Champlain and Smith.  Prior to travelling to North America, both of these men had become accomplished soldiers and had developed skills for living in environments that were quite different from their own.  Furthermore, through their early travels, Champlain to the West Indies and Smith to Eastern Europe, both men had also interacted with non-Europeans, people who in post-colonial discourse frequently occupy the term ‘cultural others’ – a category shared with the original inhabitants of North America.  The influence of this interaction is difficult to gauge, but based on Champlain’s experience in the West Indies and Smith’s lust for adventure rather than ideological warfare, it seems likely that these experiences helped shape their preconceptions of the North American people.

It is also interesting to note that both fought for Henri IV as he battled against Spain in Brittany from 1594 to 1598.  Although the relevance of such a fact may never be known completely, as Smith was a mercenary and Champlain’s role is not well chronicled, it is clear that the main things that these men had in common was enough military acumen to move through the ranks of their respective armies, and ample psychological preparation for their North American travels.  It seems most likely that when these men set foot upon North American soil they were ready to learn from the aboriginal people and do whatever it took to establish settlements across the Atlantic.

Unlike Champlain, who was influenced by many different people and experiences, it is clear that John Smith’s military career made the biggest impact on his life.  Karen Kupperman has observed how his military training would have influenced him: “When a soldier such as John Smith speaks of Indian treachery he is actually saying that the Indians are worthy opponents.”[35] Furthermore, one can see the tactical aspect of John Smith in his first work, A True Relation:

sixe or seaven daies we spent only in trayning our men to march, fight, and scirmish in the woods.  These willing minds to this action, so quickned their understanding in this exercise, as in all judgements wee were better able to fight with Powhatans whole force in our order of battle amongst the Trees, (for Thicks there is few) then the Fort was to repulse 400.[36]

Of primary importance to this passage is not that Smith was running his men through drills to prepare for a voyage inland, but rather that he demonstrated the military flexibility, or problem solving, for which he was famed in Eastern Europe.  His Eastern European and Protestant military experiences prepared him to take a more flexible approach in North America, both intellectually as Kupperman has observed, and tactically as shown above.  This passage also reveals Smith’s relationship with the aboriginal people in Virginia, although multi-faceted (as will be shown later in this chapter), it had a strong military component that was drawn from his earlier experience.  This parallel is less clear in the life of Champlain.  However, as was shown in the introduction, Jean Lévesque drew the comparison of both being men of action: “Champlain n’a pas la sympathie de Lescarbot, la naïveté de Sagard ni le détachement de Cartier; il serait plutôt le représentant d’un point de vue mitoyen, nous dirons le point de vue de l’homme d’action.  Comme [John] Smith d’ailleurs.”[37] Unlike Smith’s record, this view is not clear in Des Sauvages.

By the early years of the seventeenth century the trading relationship between the French and North American peoples was already strong and well defined.  The Algonquian people around Jamestown, however, had less contact with Europeans than those in Acadie and the Saint Lawrence valley.  But it is clear they too had intermittent contact throughout the sixteenth century.  The most pertinent example was the failed Roanoke Island colony (1584 – 1587), which was located nearby along the coast south of Chesapeake Bay – the homeland of the Virginian Algonquians.  It seems likely that neighbouring nations (those in the vicinity of Jamestown) would have been aware of the presence of these early colonists.  This was not the only contact in this region either.  Earlier, during the 1560s and 70s, the Spanish also interacted with these people, sending a contingent of Jesuit priests in 1571.  It is generally thought that all of these relationships in Virginia were hostile.[38] Although the Virginian Algonquians knew of Europe’s existence, nothing existed like the annual contact between seasonal European fishers and traders and coastal North Americans farther North. In some respects, the Virginia environment in 1607 was more similar to Cartier’s experience in the St. Lawrence than Champlain’s.[39]

This was the world into which Samuel de Champlain and John Smith arrived.  Influenced by their upbringing, travels, accounts of North America (both first and second hand), and above all their military experience, these two men arrived on North American soil.  It is here their influences can be seen most clearly, and the similarity between them most apparent.  However, there were also some major differences that affected how they depicted their North American experiences to a European audience.  First, as shown in the previous paragraph, the French and English experience in North America was completely different.  This is an important distinction because such previous relationships may have provided an opportunity for Champlain to learn a more specific set of skills.  For example, based on his conversations in Des Sauvages it appears that Champlain had adequate knowledge of a native tongue, whereas in Smith’s account it seems that the language was completely foreign to him.  This is seen in Champlain’s work in a significant section of his account in which he discussed theological concepts with an Innu leader (see below), whereas Smith illustrated his trouble with the language by telling his readers that he had to communicate, “with the best languages and signes of thankes I could expresse.”[40] Second, Smith and Champlain interacted with different people, who had different customs and beliefs, therefore resulting in different observations.  This is of foremost importance in any comparison being made – the Virginian Algonquians, Mi’kmaq, and Innu were as different from each other as the French were from the English.  Third, and perhaps most important to remember, the two men were writing for different reasons.  It seems most likely that Champlain’s account was, or derived from, a royal report.  The foundation of such reporting would have been accuracy in description – an attempt to bring the St. Lawrence to Fontainebleau.  Smith’s account is much more of a narrative, in which he plays the central role.  Such storytelling forces historians always to bear in mind that perhaps Smith’s pen was mightier than his sword.  Furthermore, his text was also edited significantly upon its arrival in England in order to serve as promotional material for the Virginia Company.  As a result not everything in their writings is comparable.  But despite these differences and problems, Champlain and Smith were in similar situations.  They were strangers in a strange land, attempting to make that land inhabitable for un-acclimatized Europeans.

There are many factors that come into play that cloud our understanding of these men through the documents attributed to them.  Beyond the biases of the authors, the works are also shrouded in a degree of uncertainty.  Philip Barbour in his introduction to The Complete Works of John Smith reminded his readers that A True Relation was published without “knowledge, permission, or supervision.”[41] As a result, Barbour believed that the text was heavily edited, noting “that Smith himself was the independent author of only a relatively small part of all that was published in his name.”[42] He later made the statement: “the 1608 text is clearly corrupt.”[43] There has been an equal amount of discussion, if not more, regarding Champlain’s Brief Discours.  Historian Luca Codignola, who has studied the authenticity of this document, wrote: “It is my firm opinion that Champlain did not author that manuscript.”[44] Despite Codignola’s conviction on the document, David Quinn told his readers “though he [Codignola] is not prepared (at least at present) to endorse my firm conviction that there was an original, that it was presented to Henry IV and was retained by him as a secret report, while the existing narrative and its illustrations were a substitute only.”[45] Quinn’s feeling on this document is: “Most of ‘Brief Discours’ is made up of some parts of the original (as I think) but much the greater part, including the illustrations, are not Champlain’s, but a narrative and pictures put together from other contemporary sources or invented.”[46] Marcel Trudel pointed out that many scholars doubt that Brief Discours is an actual account because of a number of chronological problems, but he also showed that on two separate occasions Champlain alluded to voyages to the West Indies in his other works.  Trudel ended his discussion on the reliability of this document by mentioning that the work only began to be published under Champlain’s name in 1859, causing him to conclude: “we have no right to include the ‘Brief Discours’ among Champlain’s works.”[47]

What then are we to make of these two accounts?  When dealing with the case of Champlain the situation is much easier.  The only major concern with his writings lies in the authorship of Brief Discours, while the rest of the documents being used for this thesis stand on much firmer ground.  Furthermore, although a document that has been used for this chapter has been deemed considerably corrupt, it does not stand in the way of Champlain’s claims to have visited the West Indies.  Therefore, because most historians believe that Champlain did visit the West Indies in the last few years of the sixteenth century, and that the account does resemble the West Indies of that epoch, a Brief Discours can be used to provide insight into the types of things Champlain would have seen, enabling us to use this document to gain insights into the influences this experience would have had on him.  Throughout this thesis this work will be used in terms of how such experiences would have impacted Champlain’s outlook on the Americas, rather than directly attributing those experiences to him.

The corruption involved in Smith’s first work is much more difficult to deal with.  How does one decipher Smith’s views of the aboriginal people from a text that has undergone heavy editing on the other side of the Atlantic?  Being Smith’s first work from Virginia, this text is too valuable to discount wholesale.  In order to use this text one must understand the goals of the editors and err on the side of caution when touching the issues that were important to them.  For the most part the Virginia Company’s goal in publishing this document was to dispel many of the negative myths (which were often realities) circulating around England in the first few years of the colony.  Barbour claimed that in England, “rumors of disillusionment and dissatisfaction in Virginia were already rife” by the time Smith’s letter crossed the Atlantic.[48] One of these rumours was “that the Indians were far less tractable than early reports had intimated.”[49] This point is of primary importance for this chapter as it calls into question much of Smith’s writing on the aboriginal people.  Has the picture handed down to us been painted rosier than Smith intended?  Despite this problem, Philip Barbour has endeavoured to note places in the text that he felt were more the writing of the original editor rather than that of Smith himself.  With Barbour’s aid, a firm knowledge of Smith’s background, as well as knowledge of his other writings, this work can be used for the purposes of this thesis.

Both the works of Champlain and Smith raise interesting questions about language use when referring to the native peoples.  In A True Relation the dominant word that John Smith used was indian, which appeared forty-two times.  However, from time to time he also used the word salvage, which appeared twelve times, people, which appeared twenty-three times, and infidel and inhabitant, which appeared once and thrice respectively.[50] The difference in word choice seems to depend on the context.  The word indian seems to be used most often when the nationality of the aboriginal is not known.  For example, Smith wrote, “Our provision now being within twentie dayes spent, the Indians brought us great store both of Corne and bread ready made.”[51] Likewise, the terms people and inhabitant were most often used when Smith was writing of a defined group, such as “The next day another King of that nation called Kekataugh, having received some kindnes of me at the Fort, kindly invited me to a feast at his house, the people from all places flocked to see me.”[52] Smith used infidel to refer to the native people as non-Christians, as the Oxford English Dictionary defines it.  But, unfortunately there is little accounting for his occasional use of the word salvage.  When it appears it is often in the same context for which he used either people or indian.  This could be the work of the original editor, or evidence that the word was more of a synonym with indian than its more pejorative definition suggests.[53]

If one is to believe Champlain to be the author of Brief Discours – or that its author was a contemporary of Champlain’s – then he can be seen as having made a similar distinction between words as well.  In this document the difference and reasoning for each word choice is much more clear.  In Brief Discours the author used both the terms sauvage and indienSauvage appeared most often in discussions about natives who were not influenced by the Spanish presence.  For example, when the author first made landfall in Guadeloupe after crossing the Atlantic, he wrote, “De ladicte Isle nous feusmes à vnne autre isle nommée la Gardalouppe, qui est fort montaigneuse, habitée de sauuages;”[54] however when discussing the natives of Mexico City, the author wrote, “Quand aux autres Indiens qui sont soubz la domination du Roy d’Espaigne…”[55] The difference here appears to be the aboriginal proximity to European development and ‘civilisation.’  The differentiation in this work is important because in Des Sauvages Champlain rarely deviated from the term sauvage, possibly because of the lack of a permanent European presence.[56]

The variation in terminology for both Smith and Champlain suggests a complex method of understanding and describing the aboriginal people of North America to a European audience, each word having a slightly different connotation.  The difference between Champlain’s words reveals a common theme in French colonisation as it relates to the aboriginal people.  Olive Dickason explained, “When an Amerindian was converted to Christianity, he was legally considered to be a French citizen, with full rights…”[57] It seems from the examples above that the author of Brief Discours was separating those aboriginal people who were ‘civilised,’ and therefore equal in the eyes of the French, from those who were not, by using the term indien to describe the former and sauvage to describe the latter.

What is most interesting is that although this word choice can be seen as hinging on European conceptions of civility, Smith’s fits much more into an attempt to describe peoples who fell into various well-defined groups.  Smith’s word choice demonstrates that he understood the Virginian Algonquians to have been a people divided into towns, villages, and kingdoms; that is, as a people with clearly defined political boundaries – an important observation given that the emperor Powhatan had spent many years consolidating the communities around the Chesapeake into one organization.  Based on Smith’s previous military experience, the importance of alliances may have been key, making the identification of these types of units of primary importance.  Perhaps, Smith’s use of indian, people and salvage fits into Karen Kupperman’s observation of English settlement in her book Settling with the Indians, where she observed, “they [North Americans] were subject to this form of ‘contempt’ not because they were racially different or savage, but because they were lumped in the minds of colonial leaders in the same status category as low-born English people.”[58] Smith’s word choice, however, would need to be studied more thoroughly to come to that conclusion.  Basically, Smith and Champlain made similar statements (although Smith also made an interesting political observation) about the aboriginal people with whom they came into contact by grading them on a scale of ‘civility’ based on both internal and external comparisons.

The “civility scale” was also used in gauging the appearance of the native peoples.  There are two areas in which Smith and Champlain made comparable statements.  The first common observation was of feasting.  Smith wrote that the Virginian Algonquians came across “with such a Majestie as I cannot expresse, nor yet have often seene, either in Pagan or Christian; with a kinde countenance hee bad mee welcome, and caused a place to bee made by himselfe to sit.”[59] Like Smith, Champlain sat beside a Grand Sagamore at a feast.  Champlain wrote of their table manners, “ils mangent fort sallement: car quand ils ont les mains grasses, ils les frotent à leurs cheueux, ou bien au poil de leurs chiens…”[60] Smith’s perception seems much more positive than Champlain’s.

The difference between North American cultures is of primary importance here.  The Virginian Algonquians were sedentary and agricultural, whereas the Innu whom Champlain was observing were hunter/gatherers.  Such a distinction is important because the Virginian Algonquians may have been more concerned with cleanliness than were the Innu, because of the permanence of their location and lifestyle.  In such a light it is possible that Smith and Champlain would have made similar comments as each other, had they been in opposite situations.  Nonetheless, the contrast helps to reveal the explorers’ attitudes towards the people with whom they interacted.

A similar line is drawn regarding nudity, or at least the scarcity of clothing.  Smith recorded Powhatan as having: “…such grave and Majesticall countenance, as drave me into admiration to see such state in a naked Salvage.”[61] Champlain’s description was much less personal, merely recounting the details of an Algonquin ceremony following a military victory: “Aussi tost toutes les femmes & filles commencerent à quitter leurs robbes de peaux, & se meirent toutes nuës monstrans leur nature, neantmoins paree de Matachia, qui sont patenostres & cordons entre-lassez, faicts de poil de Porc-espic, qu’ils teignent de diuerses coulleurs.”[62] The distinction between the tales of these men is interesting.  One wonders whether Smith’s selections were edited in order to make North America look more positive for settlement, or whether Champlain’s role as a royal informant may have played a part in how he recounted his experiences. As a function of Champlain’s royal task, his account was primarily descriptive, whereas Smith narrated much more of a story.  The result being that Smith was more personal, whereas Champlain’s focus was on those surrounding him – an attempt at objectivity.

Despite the stylistic differences between these men, both their comments on the natives’ feast and nudity reveal a separation between narrator and the society that they were observing.  In Smith’s comments on nudity he claimed it “drave me into admiration to see such state in a naked Salvage.”  This shows that Smith deemed this action to have been uncharacteristic and unusual for the average aboriginal person, that for him they did not frequently attain such a high ‘state.’  However, in contrast to this previous statement, Smith also told his readers that the native leadership, primarily Powhatan, came to the feast “with such a Majestie as I cannot expresse, nor yet have often seene, either in Pagan or Christian.”  This suggests that he viewed some aboriginal people in similar terms to Europeans of a higher social status.  Likewise, in noting their eating habits Champlain was inadvertently stating that these were below the European standard, or less civil.  In both cases each man has revealed the scale which they were applying to the aboriginal people.  This reinforces Kupperman, who was quoted earlier as suggesting that the apparatus for judgement during this period was based on status rather than race or ethnicity.  These early works by Smith and Champlain show that being from North America and non-Christian did not necessarily prevent Europeans from seeing in some aboriginal people characteristics which they admired.  Whether the image was more sympathetic, as in the case of Smith, or rejected, as in the case of Champlain, at its core the image was fabricated in Europe.

In terms of content in these two documents, a major area in which Smith and Champlain differed was in their interpretation of religion.  For the most part Smith did not discuss religious issues in detail.  When he did it was often with much more brevity than Champlain.  For example, Smith revealed he believed all natives participated in human sacrifice when he told his readers: “so fat they fed mee, that I much doubted they intended to have sacrificed mee to the Quiyoughquosicke, which is a superiour power they worship; a more uglier thing cannot be described: one they have for chief sacrifices, which also they call Quiyoughquosick.[63] He finished the selection, which only takes up a page, with “they acknowledge no resurrection.”[64] In a similar fashion as the previous discussion, this section on religion is more story than description.  The passage is very brief and represents Smith’s personality well by reinforcing his image as a man of action rather than of theology.

Champlain on the other hand revealed that he was much more concerned with matters of religion (and possibly much more capable of dialogue).  In his third chapter of Des Sauvages, Champlain chronicled a theological discussion with an Innu leader.  In this discussion they shared many stories covering topics such as the creation of the earth, the afterlife, the devil, and redemption through Jesus Christ.[65] Near the end of this discussion Champlain wrote, “Voilà pourqouy ie croy qu’il n’y a aucune loy parmy eux, ne sçauēt que c’est d’adorer & prier Dieu, & viuent la plus part comme bestes brutes, & croy que promptement ils seroient reduicts bons Chrestiens si l’on habitoit leurs terres, ce qu’ils desireroient la plus part.”[66] Despite the negative conclusion at which Champlain arrived, he did reveal that his opinion was primarily based on faith issues rather than an inherent feeling of superiority.  Likewise, referring to Adam and Eve, he showed that the Innu were equal in God’s eyes, writing: “Comme Adam sommeilloit, Dieu print vne cotte dudict Adam, & en forma Eue, qu’il luy donna pour compagnie, & que c’estoit le verité qu’eux & nous estiōs venus de ceste façon, & non de fleches comme ils croyent.”[67] This belief that North Americans and Europeans were all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve was common in most Catholic kingdoms at the time – the Pope having issued decrees in 1493 and 1512 declaring the people of America to be descendants of the first man and woman and therefore making them subjects to evangelism.[68] This also supports Kupperman’s argument that Europeans initially viewed the aboriginal people on a scale of status/civility over race/genetics.

The difference in religious observation and commentary can best be explained by looking at each man’s background.  Although Smith took part in many military campaigns that found their root in religion, his frequent travels and detours while on route from battle to battle suggest he was more interested in sightseeing and hair-raising adventures than battling the foes of Christendom.  This previous experience helps explain why A True Relation dealt more with events and feelings than with theology and politics.  In a completely different vein, Champlain’s background was much more centred on religion.  The religious focus probably developed quite early for Champlain, as it is likely that he converted from Protestantism to Catholicism before any of his travels.  Such a conversion may have given root to an evangelical tack as it suggests internal theological contemplation.  Likewise, in the aftermath of the conversion of Henri IV and the Wars of Religion, religious matters may have been of greater importance to the French crown than they would have been for the business-oriented Virginia Company, and therefore manifested themselves more dominantly in a royal report.  It is clear that the differences in religion are firmly based in the environments that produced both men.

Although their general observations differed, the common bond of settling in a new land and overcoming the difficulties encountered also unified many of their opinions.  Here again the influence of their military experience played a major role.  In his early years, Champlain must have developed the skills necessary to adapt to unexpected situations through the background knowledge he had acquired in the West Indies, and his nautical experiences growing up in Brouage.  In North America these skills were used in learning about the land and how to live on it, always needing to be prepared for attacks from other Europeans, unknown peoples of the interior, and most importantly the weather.  Similarly, during Smith’s time in Eastern Europe he demonstrated the ability to think on his feet and adapt to unexpected and difficult situations.  On a number of occasions in Eastern Europe Smith provided crucial skills on the battlefield, helping his side to victory and earning him a coat of arms.  Entering a much more tumultuous region in Virginia, these skills were necessary in dealing with some powerful aboriginal leaders, and an outpost riddled with internal conflict and violence. Through their common military background, and information provided by those who were familiar with travel to the Americas, Smith and Champlain knew the North American peoples would have to play a key role in any European attempt to become more familiar with North America and its interior.

For both men it was clear that if they were to be successful, a productive relationship had to be struck with the North Americans.  In Champlain’s case this relationship was primarily based on exploration.  For example, throughout Des Sauvages Champlain made reference to dialogues he had with the aboriginal people he encountered, and information they gave to him.  In learning about the geography beyond the La Chine rapids, Champlain consulted with three different native groups at different times to verify his information.  Furthermore, he concluded three of his chapters with a sentence similar to: “Voilà au certain tout ce que i’ay veu cy dessus, & ouy dire aux Sauuages sur ce que nous les auons interrogez.”[69] Because of the short time Champlain was in North America in 1603, this suggests that before his arrival he decided the help and support of the North American people was necessary to provide a thorough and accurate report for the French monarch.

The situation in Jamestown was considerably different.  First, Smith was not in Virginia to write a report, but rather to settle.  Second, Virginia did not have the extensive interaction between European and Aboriginal that occurred in the St. Lawrence.  Nonetheless, Karen Kupperman has shown that many colonists saw the need for a certain amount of adaptation in North America: “Though the writers believed in the general superiority of English technology, they were clearly aware of the fact that they would have to learn from the Indian in order to survive.”[70] Smith needed the aboriginal people for two reasons:  First, Jamestown began to run low on food frequently, requiring them to procure it from surrounding villages.  Throughout Smith’s narrative he recounted tales of traveling from village to village trading for corn.  It was clear to him that the infant colony would fail disastrously without this sort of aboriginal help.  Second, in order to find aboriginal villages Smith also needed to explore.  And like Champlain, he used the aboriginal people to learn about this new land.[71] Although Kupperman suggested otherwise in Settling with the Indians, John Smith did not feel most Englishmen accepted this approach towards the aboriginal people.  Smith wrote:

within three or foure mile we hired a Canow, and 2. Indians to row us the next day a fowling… Though some wise men may condemn this too bould attempt of too much indiscretion, yet if they well consider the friendship of the Indians in conducting me, the desolatenes of the country, the probabilitie of some lacke, and the malicious judges of my actions at home, as also to have some matters of worth to incourage our adventures in England, might well have caused any honest minde to have done the like, as wel for his own discharge as for the publike good:[72]

Smith did not think his fellow Englishmen would have found this kind of interaction with the aboriginal people acceptable.  That Smith would make such decisions knowing there were those at Jamestown and in England who thought otherwise, and disapproved, demonstrates that he had come to a conscious decision to rely on the Virginian Algonquians.

The most common tie between Smith and Champlain in this regard was their adoption of the canoe.  During the trip recounted in the previous quotation Smith left his men and barge and joined the native guides to travel further upstream.  Later that year, he also showed that the English adopted the canoe for transportation on a wider scale.  Smith wrote, “Captaine Nuport returned with them that came abord, leaving me and Maister Scrivener a shore, to follow in Canowes.”[73] Throughout this selection there is no mention of any natives aboard Smith’s or Scrivener’s vessels, suggesting the English had adopted the canoe for their inland travels, abandoning European designs.

Smith, however, did not praise this watercraft half as much as Champlain.[74] Throughout his account Champlain returned to the benefits of this craft: “Se meirent ainsi pres de deux cents Canots, qui vont estrangemēt: Car encore que nostre Chaloupe fut bien armee, si alloient-ils plus viste que nous.”[75] Later he wrote: “Il y a quelques petites riuieres qui ne sont point nauigables, si ce n’est pour les Canos des Sauuages, ausquelles il y a quantité de saults.”[76] And for exploration: “Mais qui les voudroit passer, il se faudroit accommoder des Canos des Sauuages, qu’vn homme peut porter aisement: car de porter bateaux, c’est chose laquelle ne se peut faire en si bref temps comme il le faudroit pour pouuoir s’en retourner en Frāce, si l’on n’y hyuernoit.”[77] Despite all of these comments, it was Smith who most often told his readers he travelled by canoe, whereas Champlain only notified the reader once that he used the North American vessel.  Again, the difference in narrative is apparent: Champlain’s account was much more like an instruction book for those who followed, whereas Smith was telling a tale that had much more to do with his own actions.  Therefore, whether Champlain paddled a canoe was less important to the purpose of his narrative than were the benefits that the craft provided.

Neither Smith nor Champlain had a completely rosy picture of the North American people they encountered.  Their first year in North America was full of fear and distrust towards these people.  Although they needed the North Americans, and adapted to some of their ways, these men were not prepared to completely trust what appeared as aboriginal benevolence.  This is especially the case with John Smith.  Although Smith was quite successful at procuring corn for the settlement, he could never separate himself from a feeling of distrust.  On one of his trading voyages Smith wrote, “In my returne to Paspahegh, I traded with that churlish and treacherous nation.”[78] On another occasion when writing of Powhatan he noted, “Experience had well taught me to beleeve his friendship, till convenient opportunity suffred him to betray us.”[79] Without any evidence Smith expected Powhatan’s benevolence to change.  It is unclear whether ‘the experience’ he drew upon in this passage was from previous encounters with the leader of the Virginian Algonquians, or whether he was referring to his past exploits elsewhere.  On another occasion, when some Virginian Algonquians helped Smith in a canoe, he wrote, “This kindnes I found, when I litle expected lesse then a mischiefe…”[80] This sentiment was also revealed when he was attacked in the fields outside of the town. On this occasion he wrote: “I knew their faining love is towards me, not without a deadly hatred…”[81] Smith’s motivation for this distrust seems to be born out of experience in both North America and in his military service – where the distinction between friend and foe was made quite clearly.  Although he was able to see substantial political divisions in the aboriginal societies he encountered, he also saw all aboriginal people as having many negative traits in common.  Underwritten in this distrust seems to be that friendly aboriginals were more the exception than the rule.

Kupperman also observed this fear and distrust of the aboriginal community in English writing.  However, she emphasized that this treachery/distrust was more a product of an English worldview and the situation in which the English found themselves than an overall perception of the native people.  She explained:

English expectation of American treachery was a direct result of their own vulnerability, and their assumption that fear is what holds society together.  As long as they were dependant on the Indians for food and knowledge, and outnumbered by highly skilled marksmen, they expected treachery in America as they would have done in Europe.[82]

And as will be shown in chapter three, “Treachery in an opponent was not only expected but even in some ways admired.  A treacherous foe or rival was capable, one to be taken seriously and not easily dismissed.”[83] In this light then, it appears that although ‘friendly aboriginals were more the exception than the rule’ the same rule held true for Europeans.

Champlain did not emphasize distrust and treachery as often as Smith.  Only on one occasion in Des Sauvages did he state some of his apprehensions: “Ils ont vne meschanceté en eux, qui est, vser de vengence & estre grands menteurs, gens en qui il ne fait pas trop bon s’asseurer, sinon qu’auec raison & la force à la main.”[84] Champlain was not very specific as to what governed this belief, but it may have been an over-riding idea that the native people were “priuez de la raison”[85] and “qui est bestiale.”[86] There are three possible influences for why Champlain would have made fewer of these sorts of statements.  First, emphasizing treachery and distrust would have undermined his key informants and made his own account fundamentally flawed.  Second, he was not planning on remaining in the St. Lawrence Valley for any length of time (on this occasion) and such issues may not have been as important.  Third, and most importantly, perhaps the cultural conditioning that had occurred between traders, fishers, and the aboriginal people in the years leading up to Champlain’s arrival fostered a more trusting relationship.  Nonetheless, given Champlain’s statement above, it seems likely that opinions of both men were highly influenced by their inexperience in North America (and by contrast their European perspective), and their inability to understand a North American world-view.

Despite this distrust, both Smith and Champlain emphasized the positive relationship that they had fostered with the aboriginal people.  Nothing made this clearer than their statements that the local native groups had invited them, or knew that they wished, to stay on their territory.  Three passages in which they make this clear are listed below:

At his greatnesse [the king of England] hee [Emperor Powhatan] admired, and not a little feared: hee desired mee to forsake Paspahegh [Jamestown], and to live with him upon his River, a Countrie called Capahowasicke: hee promised to give me Corne, Venison, or what I wanted to feede us, Hatchets and Copper wee should make him, and none should disturbe us.  This request I promised to performe: and thus having with all the kindnes hee could devise, sought to content me.[87]

This so contented him, as immediately with attentive silence, with a lowd oration he proclaimed me a werowanes of Powhatan, and that all his subjects should so esteeme us, and no man account us strangers nor Paspaheghans, but Powhatans, and that the Corne, weoman and Country, should be to us as to his owne people: the proffered kindnes for many reasons we contemned not, but with the best languages and signes of thankes I could expresse, I tooke my leave.[88]

L’vn des Sauuages que nous auions amené commença à faire sa harangue, de la bonne reception que leur auoit fait le Roy, & le bon traictement qu’ils auoient receu en France, & qu’ils s’asseurassent que sadite Majesté leur vouloit du bien, & desiroit peupler leur terre, & faire paix auec lears ennemies (qui sont les Irocois) ou leur enuoyer des forces pour les vaincre.[89]

There are some fundamental problems that throw the accuracy of these statements into question.  The first was language.  In the second passage John Smith noted that in a speech Powhatan had welcomed the English into his community.  However, immediately following this presentation Smith demonstrated that neither he nor his companions had the verbal skills to communicate their thanks adequately.  How then, we must ask, could Smith be so sure that he had understood the meaning of Powhatan’s oration?

The second issue follows from this: These are the only accounts that we have of these events.  (Although Patricia Seed has shown that the French colonized by using the “Doctrine of Consent.”[90])  In the case of the third quotation, the reader assumes that the aboriginal people who were listening to this speech agreed with the French King’s motivation because of the absence of strong opposition to what was being said.  But to what extent can this be a basis, either then or now, for assuming that the aboriginal communities with whom these men interacted had welcomed them onto their territory?  These selections are probably the most delicate sections of Smith and Champlain’s works for historians because their inclusion serves a significant political interest, and the fact that both included similar stories suggests more of a common bond towards European travel writing rather than a universal aboriginal welcome to European society.

The first two written works by Champlain and Smith are completely different in style, but similar in substance.  It is clear that although both came with prejudices emerging from a strongly Christian Europe, their military and early lives had helped prepare them for an entirely different world.  By being more flexible in their approach and relationship with the native people, their prejudices and biases, although very apparent in their writing, did not interfere as much in their interactions.  Even though they were in completely different situations, both men demonstrated a desire to adapt and work with local North American communities in order to survive in a new environment.  They were able to transcend their fear and distrust of aboriginal people and the wilderness to build new outlets for their European homelands.  For a brief pause in history it looked like the Europeans were moving towards a sort of harmony with the North American world.

[1] Quinn, “Henri Quatre and New France,” Terrae Incognitae, Vol. 22, (1990), 16-17.

[2] Samuel de Champlain, Des Sauvages ou Voyage de Samuel Champlain, de Brouage, fait en la France nouvelle, l’an mil six cens trois, in H.G. Biggar, (ed.) The Works of Samuel de Champlain, vol. 1, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971), 186.  My Translation: “dreadful monster” who “has the form of a woman… of such size, that they tell me that the top of the masts of our vessel would not reach his waist… and that he often has devoured and still devours many natives.  These he puts in a big pocket, when he can catch them, and then eats them.”

[3] Quinn, “Henri Quatre and New France,” 17. Quinn was quoting Marc Lescarbot, Histoire de la Nouvelle France, vol. I, H.P. Biggar, (ed.) (Toronto, 1907), 398-405.

[4] Quinn, “Henri Quatre and New France,” 18.

[5] Marcel Trudel, “Samuel de Champlain,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography (hereafter labelled DCB), (January 22, 2004).  Jean Liebel has suggested 1580 as Champlain’s birthdate; however, all of the sources used in this thesis suggest the earlier 1570 date.

[6] Trudel, “Samuel de Champlain.”

[7] Robert Le Blant and René Baudry, eds., Nouveaux Documents sur Champlain et son époque, vol. I, (Ottawa, 1967), 40. My Translation: “ready to leave at the first convenient time that it pleases God, go and fetch salt at Baye, Brouage, or Spain for your voyage to fish cod…”

[8] Morris Bishop, Champlain: A Life of Fortitude, (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1963), 5.

[9] Le Blant and Baudry, 18.  My Translation: “To Samuel de Champlain, aid to Sieur Hardy marshal of lodging for the King’s army in the said country, the sum of nine ‘escuz’ for a certain important secret voyage that he made in the service of the King.”

[10] Quinn, “Henri Quatre and New France,” 19.

[11] Trudel calls him a “private passenger” in his 1603 voyage – Trudel, “Samuel de Champlain.” And on Champlain’s role in site selection see Quinn, “Henri Quatre and New France,” 25.

[12] Conrad Heidenreich, “The Beginning of French Exploration out of the St Lawrence Valley: Motives, Methods, and Changing Attitudes towards Native People,” in Carolyn Podruchny and Germaine Warkentin. (eds), Decentring the Renaissance, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), 237.

[13] H.P. Biggar, (ed.), Brief Discours: Des Choses plus remarquables que Sammuel Champlain de Brouage a reconneues aux Indes Occidentalles, in The Works of Samuel de Champlain, 16.

[14] Biggar, Brief Discours, 41. My Translation: “I believe, as far as I can judge, there are in the said city twelve to fifteen thousand Spaniards, and six times as many Indians, who are Christian and also inhabitants…”

[15] Biggar, Brief Discours, 63. My Translation: “the King of Spain, if he did not provide order, they would also have barbarous beliefs like the others.”

[16] Samuel Eliot Morison, Samuel de Champlain, (Toronto: Little, Brown and Company, 1972), 4. – There is no footnote showing from where the idea developed.

[17] Morison, 17.  This co-relation, when combined with Champlain’s famous insinuation that the salt sea the natives describe in 1603 was an arm of the Atlantic ocean (Champlain, Des Sauvages, 124), makes one wonder the extent to which Champlain had become familiar with Frobisher’s earlier travels.  When he left the north, Frobisher had thought he had found an opening to the Northwest Passage.  Instead he discovered the bay that now bears his name.

[18] Marie-Christine Gomez-Géraud, “Le Proces d’une Relation Coupable. De Quelques Interpretations des Recits de Jacques Cartier,” Etudes Françaises, Vol. 11, no. 2 (1986), 67.

[19] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 85. My Translation: “Monseigneur, – Although many have written something of the country of Canada, I have not been able to stop at what they have said, and I expressly went to the place to bear faithful witness to the truth, which you will see (if you wish)”

[20] Champlain, The Works of Samuel de Champlain, vol. II, H.P. Biggar, (ed.) (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971), 220-221. My Translation: “Moreover, the said Cartier on the voyage which he made, never passed the said great rapid of S. Louys, and discovered nothing North nor South on the coast of the St. Lawrence River: his relations bear no witness, they only speak of the Saguenay, of three rivers and Saint Croix, where he wintered in a fort near our habitation: for he would not have admitted what he did not describe, he left out all of the upper St. Lawrence, from Tadoussac to the great rapid, difficult to discover the land, and he did not want to take a chance nor leave his boats for adventure: the sort that has since been unused, if not for the last four years that we have made our habitation at Quebec, or after completing it, I took the chance to pass the said rapid to help the savages in their wars, and sent men to learn about these people, their way of life, and their land.”

[21] Philip L. Barbour, The Three Worlds of Captain John Smith, (London, MacMillan, 1964), 3.

[22] Ian Beckwith, “Captain John Smith: The Yeoman Background,” History Today, Vol. 26, no.7 (June 1976), 444.

[23] Quinn, “The First Pilgrims,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, vol. 23, no. 3 (1966), 359-390.

[24] Beckwith, 450.

[25] Beckwith, 450.

[26] William McPeak, “The Adventures of Captain John Smith,” Military History, Vol. 19, no. 2, (June 2002), 35.

[27] Barbour, Three Worlds, 13-14.

[28] McPeak, 35. for a more specific discussion in Barbour, Three Worlds, 14.

[29] Alden T. Vaughan, American Genesis: Captain John Smith and the Founding of Virginia, (Toronto: Little, Brown and Company, 1975), 6.

[30] McPeak, 36.

[31] McPeak, 37.

[32] McPeak, 38.

[33] Barbour, Three Worlds, 48-49.

[34] McPeak, 39.  For details on the Muslim use of European slaves see Robert Davis, Christian Slaves and Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800, (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003). Although Davis was writing about the slave trade on the Barbary Coast, he makes a number of interesting points about the size of the trade around the Islamic world, and the impact that this trade had on Europe.

[35] Karen Kupperman, Settling with the Indians: The Meeting of English and Indian Cultures in America, 1580-1640, (Totowa, N.J., 1980), 129.

[36] John Smith, A True Relation of such occurrences and accidents of note, as hath hapned in Virginia, since the first planting of that Collony, which is now resident in the South part thereof, till the last return, in Philip Barbour, (ed.), The Complete Works of John Smith (1580-1631), vol. I, (Chapel Hill, 1986), 85.

[37] Lévesque, “Représentation de l’Autre et Propagande Coloniale dans les Récits de John Smith en Virginie et de Samuel de Champlain en Nouvelle-France (1615-1618),” Canadian Folklore Canadien, vol. 17, no. 1 (1995), 105. My Translation: “Champlain did not have Lescarbot’s sympathy, Sagard’s naivety nor Cartier’s detachment; he was rather the representative of a common point of view, we could say the point of view of a man of action.  Like Smith elsewhere.”

[38] Helen Rountree, Pocahontas’s People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries, (University of Oklahoma Press, 1990), 15-16.

[39] Like the Jamestown Voyage, Cartier entered into a world in which the aboriginal people had contact with Europeans, but not enough to really understand them.  The St. Lawrence by the time of Champlain’s arrival had extensive contact with the natives in the region.  A good example of this took place during Champlain’s first voyage in 1603, on which two aboriginal men were returning from a stay in Europe, providing ample time and opportunity for Champlain to become better versed in the new land. (Champlain, Works, 98-99)

[40]Smith, A True Relation, 67.

[41] Barbour, ed., The Complete Works of John Smith (1580-1631), vol. I, 5.

[42] Barbour, ed., The Complete Works of John Smith (1580-1631), vol. I, lxi.

[43] Barbour, ed., The Complete Works of John Smith (1580-1631), vol. I, 8.

[44] Luca Codignola, personal communication.  For a more detailed discussion of Codignola’s opinion see: “Le Prétendu Voyage de Samuel de Champlain aux Indes Occidentales, 1599-1601.” in Madeleine Frédéric and Serge Jaumain, (eds.), La Relation de Voyage, (Brussels: Université Libre de Bruxelles, Centre d’études Canadiennes, 1999), 61-80.

[45] Quinn, “Henri Quatre and New France,” 19.

[46] Quinn, “Henri Quatre and New France,” 19. The parenthesis is Quinn’s.

[47] Trudel, “Samuel de Champlain.”

[48] Barbour, ed., The Complete Works of John Smith (1580-1631), vol. I, 5.

[49] Barbour, ed., The Complete Works of John Smith (1580-1631), vol. I, 5.

[50] The word search was done on Edward Arber’s 1910 edition of Smith’s works, found at Virtual Jamestown,, (January 23, 2004).

[51] Smith, A True Relation, Edward Arber, ed.

[52] Smith, A True Relation, Edward Arber, ed.

[53] For fuller discussion of this topic and contemporary definitions please see the appendix.

[54] Biggar, (ed.) Brief Discours, 11. My Translation: “From the said island we passed another island named the Gardalouppe, which is very mountainous, inhabited by savages”

[55] Biggar, (ed.) Brief Discours, 63. My Translation: “When the other Indians who are under the domination of the King of Spain.”

[56] The appendix shows a clear increase in Champlain’s vocabulary between each work studied.

[57] Dickason, The Myth of the Savage, (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1984), 274.  Before one gets too rosy of a picture from this quotation, one ought to consider what follows: “…including the privilege of living in France without any further declaration of naturalization.  But whatever land he received was granted either by the French crown or by French individuals, and not by mere assumption of aboriginal right.”

[58] Kupperman, Settling with the Indians, 3.

[59] Smith, A True Relation, 65.

[60] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 102. My Translation: “they are very dirty eaters: because when they have greasy hands they rub them on their hair, or else on the fur of their dogs.”

[61] Smith, A True Relation, 53. The square brackets are Barbour’s.  Also, a footnote immediately following this passage informs us “The jerky style of writing here suggests cutting.” (ft. 125)

[62] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 107-108. Author’s Translation: “Suddenly all of the women and girls began to take off their skin robes, and stripped completely naked showing their nature, nevertheless wearing Matachia, which are beads and braided cords, made of Porcupine skin, that is dyed in diverse colours.”

[63] Smith, A True Relation, 59.

[64] Smith, A True Relation, 59.

[65] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 111-118.

[66] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 117. My Translation: “This is why I believe that there is no law among them, nor know what it is to worship and pray to God, and live most of the time like brutal beasts, and believe that they could quickly become good Christians if we lived on their land, which they desire for the most part.”

[67] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 112. My Translation: “While Adam slept, God took a rib from the said Adam, and out of it formed Eve, who he gave to him for company, and that this is the truth that they and us originated in this way, and not from arrows like they believed.”

[68] Peter N. Moogk, La Nouvelle France,  (East Lansing: Michigan State University, 2000), 19.

[69] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 157. My Translation: “This is all I could see, or hear from the savages whom we questioned.”  It should be noted that “& ouy dire aux Sauvages” has been translated to “or hear from the savages” in consultation with the context of the quotation and H.H. Langton’s own translation (Biggar was the general editor).  Three other chapters end with a similar message, further reinforcing this message.

[70] Kupperman, Settling with the Indians, 104.

[71] Smith, A True Relation, 45.

[72] Smith, A True Relation, 45.

[73] Smith, A True Relation, 73.

[74] The different types of tree used in canoe construction may have caused this.  Birch trees, which were commonly used by the Innu and Mi’kmaq for the hull of their vessels, do not grow south of New England.  In Virginia, Smith would have encountered dug out canoes, which would have been much heavier than the craft that Champlain encountered. For more information see The Handbook of North American Indians vol. XV: Northeast. – Micmac and Virginian Algonquian entries.

[75] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 104. My Translation: “There came about two hundred canoes, who go strangely: For although our rowboats were well equipped, they went faster than us.”

[76] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 130-131. My Translation: “There are some small rivers that are not navigable, if it was not for the canoes of the savages, in which there are many rapids.”

[77] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 152. My Translation: “But if one wants to pass them, they must use the canoes of the savages, which a man can easily carry: for to carry a boat is something that cannot be done in the short time one has before returning to France, if they do not winter.”

[78] Smith, A True Relation, 39. On this occasion his distrust may have been warranted.  Barbour informs the reader in the endnotes that Jamestown was built on Paspahegh territory.

[79] Smith, A True Relation, 69.

[80] Smith, A True Relation, 73.

[81] Smith, A True Relation, 87.

[82] Kupperman, Indians and English, (Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University, 2000), 219.

[83] Kupperman, Indians and English, 219.

[84] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 110-111. My Translation: “They have one meanness to them, which is they are prone to vengeance and are great liars, people whom you cannot trust without reason and the force of the hand.”

[85] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 63. My Translation: “deprived of reason.”

[86] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 118. My Translation: “who are beast like.”

[87] Smith, A True Relation, 57.

[88] Smith, A True Relation, 67.

[89] Champlain, Des Sauvages, 99-100. My Translation: “One of the natives that we brought began to make a speech about the good reception they had with the King, and the good treatment that they received in France, and that they felt assured that the said Majesty wished them well, and desired to people their country, and make peace with their enemies (who are the Iroquois) or to send forces to vanquish them.”

[90] Patricia Seed, Ceremonies of Possession in Europe’s Conquest of the New World, 1492-1640, (Cambridge University Press, 1995), 62. This has also been discussed in Olive Dickason, “The Sixteenth-Century French Vision of Empire:  The Other Side of Self-Determination,” Decentring the Renaissance, 90-91 and Quinn, 489.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s