Blupete's Biography Page

Book #1: Acadia.TOC
Part 1, "Early Settlement & Baronial Battles: 1605-90."TOC
Chapter 7 - "The de Razilly Settlement"

Isaac de Razilly was born among the French nobility at the Chateau d'Oiseaumelle in the Touraine country of France (which could be starkly compared to the scene of his death 48 years later at LaHave in Acadia).1 His mother, a de Valliers, had a brother, Claude, who was a commodore in the French navy. At the age of 18, Isaac was appointed a knight of the order of Saint John of Jerusalem2 and a member of the French navy. He distinguished himself in the naval service; at one point he was in command of a thirteen ship squadron; in one of his battles off the coast of La Rochele, he lost an eye when a vessel blew up. By 1626, de Razilly had made such a name for himself that he was consulted by Cardinal Richlieu himself.3 It was with Richlieu that our hero worked out a plan for the buildup of Acadia, so "to block any English encroachment north of the 36th parallel."4 The result was the founding of the Compagnie de La Nouvelle-France, or the Compagnie des Cent-Associes (the Company of 100 Associates, as it came to be known). The associates included Richlieu, Samuel Champlain and de Razilly (the naval commander for the company).

Thus, by 1627, there was a French trading company with capital and power, and a goal of establishing themselves in Acadia by recruiting, supporting and sending out the first true group of French settlers to Acadia. Its first efforts, ones of substantial proportion, came in the form of four ships loaded, in the spring of 1628, with "settlers, cattle, food, and other supplies" (for both; Samuel Champlain at Quebec, and Charles La Tour at Cape Sable). An English squadron got at them and it is questionable whether any of the French ships got through to New France, in 1628.

Naval fighter that he was, de Razilly, after conferring with Richlieu, determined that in the following year (1629), he would convoy the French supply vessels to America. As it turned out, peace broke out between England and France, so he and his war ships were sent against the Moorish pirates who were raiding the French shipping in the Mediterranean.

Though the Company of 100 Associates had been started up with much enthusiasm, certain "investors" were getting concerned, for five years passed and not much of an establishment had been made in Acadia. It was agreed that efforts should be renewed, but the money chest was all but empty; a further investment of funds was required. To achieve this, the Company of 100 Associates carved up their territories and sold them off to a number of smaller private companies. De Razilly and some of his friends formed one of these private companies that became known as Razilly-Condonnier Company. This company was set up with an equipped vessel and the sum of 10,000 livres. Thus, we come to de Razilly's first expedition to Acadia.

Isaac de Razilly, described as "Knight Commander of the Order of Malta, a distinguished naval veteran and an enthusiastic proponent of French colonial development" accompanied by his cousin Charles de Menou d'Aulnay, his nephew, Claude de Razilly, and by Nicholas Denys (a native of Tours) came to reclaim Acadia for France.5 De Razilly's choice for his headquarters was to be LaHave. Having left France during July, this founding group disembarked at LaHave on September 8th, 1632.6

One might wonder at this hero of the sea, this connected politician, this aging bachelor; yet, apparently, as Deny writes, "he had no other desire than to people this land, and every year he had brought here as many people as he could for those purposes." The historians observe that de Razilly approached his projects with zeal, and his aptitude for getting things done, and getting them done correctly, was well known. His influence, given that he had such a friend as Richlieu, stretched far and wide.

"By the treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye, Port Royal, with the whole of Acadie, passed again in to the hands of France (March, 1632), and Isaac de Razilly was sent out to take formal possession of the country from the English. With him came the Recollet missionaries, who had been banished from the Province by the English during their occupancy, and resumed their cures. With him also came Charles de Menou, seigneur d'Aulnay de Charnisay, as one of his lieutenants, Charles Amador de La Tour, of Cape Sable, being the other, each for a separate section of Acadie, D'Aulnay's the western and La Tour's the eastern. De Razilly, who acted as governor, or lieutenant-general for the French king made his headquarters at Lahave, where he settled forty families, but after his death, which occurred in 1633 or 1634, D'Aulnay removed these settlers to Port Royal, located them with twenty more whom he brought from France on the site of the present town [Annapolis Royal], and built a new fort for their protection. In 1634, Claude de Razilly, the brother of Isaac, received a grant of Port Royal from the company of New France. In 1635 the same company granted the 'fort and habitation of La Tour,' on the St. John River, to Charles La Tour. This fort was situated where the town of Carleton now stands, and became the theatre of stirring events subsequently. Isaac de Razilly had left all his rights and property in Acadie to his brother Claude, who, in 1642, conveyed them to D'Aulnay.'"7

De Razilly's position to both d'Aulnay and La Tour was somewhat that of a royal overseer. They both appear to have been subordinate to de Razilly, but in different senses. La Tour was in possession of prior rights to at least part of the territory and it was up to de Razilly to keep La Tour happy while de Razilly and his backers cut themselves in on the action. De Razilly, as we have seen, was a powerful and persuasive man who determined he could live with La Tour, if La Tour could live with him, basically on a 50-50 basis.8 D'Aulnay, to de Razilly, was more like a gentleman's servant, or as Calnek put it "one of his lieutenants."9 At any rate, de Razilly saw to it that d'Aulnay and La Tour were to be equals, for each had "a separate section of Acadie, d'Aulnay's the western and La Tour's the eastern. De Razilly, who acted as governor, or lieutenant-general for the French king made his headquarters at Lahave."

Hannay writes at p. 128 that de Razilly, "in the first year of his settlement at LaHave brought to Acadia forty families," however, it was not at LaHave that these French colonizers, the seedlings of the French Acadian population and culture, were to take root; as we will see they moved to the farming lands of the present day Annapolis Valley.10 Further, at p. 141, Hannay writes, that upon the death of de Razilly (December, 1635) and upon effectively taking de Razilly's power, d'Aulnay moves the LaHave colonists to Port Royal so to establish himself there, closer to his growing enemy. At about the same time, La Tour had established himself at the mouth of the St. John. So too, I should add, putting farmers on the fertile lands surrounding the Annapolis River would mean that d'Aulnay could supply food to the outlying posts of his expanding empire. Indeed, once he was relocated at Port Royal, he arranged for some "twenty additional families" to come out from France.11

During de Razilly's command, Acadia got a very good and quick start. In the summers, French ships came to LaHave with men and supplies. Soon, this truly first, French Acadian colony was well established with subsidiary establishments at Port Rossignol (Liverpool; fishing) and Mirligueche (Lunenburg; lumbering). Up the Petite Riviere, some of the first farms in Nova Scotia were established.12

By 1635 the colony at LaHave and its surrounding areas in Acadia were that well established that de Razilly sent d'Aulnay and La Tour down the coast to oust the English at Penobscot. The English had dispossessed the French (La Tour) back in 1626; de Razilly wished to return the compliment, and, it would appear, he was within his legal rights to do so, due to The Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye.13 After the takeover of Penobscot (in the current day state of Maine) d'Aulnay was left in charge, likely a move that upset La Tour, since it was he and his father who had originally set up the place. We can mark the year, 1635, as the year when D'Aulnay and La Tour, these two feudal barons of Old Acadia, became mortal enemies of one another -- no matter that they were both Frenchmen located in an inexhaustible land consisting of thousands of unpeopled square miles. The prime difficulty was this: an agreement had been entered into between de Razilly and Charles La Tour. Now, Charles La Tour was nobody's fool and he sailed to Paris and hired himself a well connected Parisian avocat. And after the interviews and hearings, the necessary negotiations were pursued and La Tour had a deal. He was to keep absolute power (short of a royal decree) over his own little pockets in the wilderness: At Cape Sable and on the mouth of the great St. John River (current day New Brunswick); further he was to get half of the entire profits of the pelt trade from "Canso to New Holland"; de Razilly the rest. The critical clause that some smart lawyer in Paris dreamt up gave each party absolute rights to the others warehouses and books of account; as M. A. MacDonald put it "each man had been set as a watchdog over the other."14 Incidentally, that deal was struck in a very formal setting with clerks and lawyers all about, in a building on rue Quincampoix, in the heart of the French financial district of Paris: it was a deal that was going to stick. It would have probably all worked out, except --

De Razilly died suddenly at La Heve in December 1635. History tells us little of his death, other than he was active and well-motivated right up to the last.15 Likely he died, as so many of us will, by an embolism to the heart or brain. De Razilly, however, though he had but three years (1632-35) in the colony, left a legacy which impacted on America. On account of his colonization effort, the Acadian culture came about; a root culture of the Canadian people, and of a number of people in the United States especially, those living in Louisiana, "Cajuns."16


Next: Chapter 8, The Battling Barons of Acadian

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