Module 3 Overview: Francis I & Exploration


Many things were happening on the world stage in the early to mid 1500’s.

Spain (and its Catholic ruler – Charles V) had been plundering South America using it’s gold to fund its European domination.

The march of Islam cut off European access to trade with India and China.

Francis I wanted to compete with the Spaniards for exploration and discovery of the ‘New World’. He wanted to search for a passage to India.

With that in mind, he commissioned Jacques Cartier to look for the Northwest Passage. Instead, Cartier found ‘New France’.

Jacques Cartier made his way over the top of Newfoundland to the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in 1534 and to modern day Quebec City and modern day Montreal in 1535.

Note the events which were happening in France around that time:

  • 1533 – Calvin & Cop flee Paris after the commencement speech
  • 1534 – The Placard Affair
  • 1535 – Calvin began his ‘Institutes’ as an open letter to Francis I, as a defense of the faith
  • 1536 – Francis was again at war with Spain

The year 1535 marked the first negative experience that the Natives (Miq’mak and Iroquois) had with Europeans. Cartier had kidnapped Chief Donnacona and 9 other Natives as ‘trophies’ for King Francis on his way out from New France.

In 1541 /1542 Francis I again commissioned exploration of New France, this time with his friend, Jean Francois de La Roque de Roberval AND Cartier.

This trip also did not bode well for Native / European interaction.

50 years later, Henry IV commissioned trips to New France and Acadia.

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