A Blupete Biography Page

Marc Lescarbot

Marc Lescarbot is known, principally, as the first historian of Acadia. He wrote Nova Francia: A Description of Acadia, 1606.

Unlike so many of the early French explorers, Lescarbot was born in the north of France near the present day border of Belgium. He studied law and practiced in the courts.

One of Lescarbot clients was Jean de Biencourt, Seigneur de Poutrincourt. On March 7th, 1604, Poutrincourt, as we may see from our history, sailed to Acadia. Poutrincourt was part of a commercial enterprise under the command of de Monts. That autumn Poutrincourt returned to France leaving de Monts and 79 men to suffer it out at St. Croix. As his lawyer, Lescarbot "was placed in charge" of Poutrincourt's affairs. Poutrincourt, who, it must be remembered had not likely tasted a cruel Canadian winter, was enthusiastic about the New World. Poutrincourt had returned with "several bales of beaver and other kinds of fur." The idea, I suppose, was for Poutrincourt to sell the skins, buy supplies, recruit more men, and return to Acadia the following spring to re-provision the settlement at Acadia. No doubt one of the first persons Poutrincourt was to speak to was his lawyer, Lescarbot. Lescarbot, as it turned out, was tired of the practice of law and saw in Poutrincourt's accounting of the New World and his intention to return to be an opportunity for adventure. Lescarbot signed up; and thus, history was well served to have such a literate man, one who was use to observing and writing, be involved in the early explorations of the New World.

On May 13th, 1606, the ship Jonas sailed for New France and Marc Lescarbot, the French lawyer and observer, was aboard, it seems, just for the adventure.

A bit more than a year later Lescarbot returned to France together with all the rest of Demont's colony, Poutrincourt having received word that Port Royal was to be abandoned. Lescarbot was not to return to the New World; in the spring of 1608, he returned to the practice of law. With the encouragement of his friends, Lescarbot turned to the writing of his history; it was published in 1609. Interestingly, Lescarbot's history put the Jesuits in a light which was less than favourable. Now, in the days of Lescarbot, the Jesuits were a powerful outfit, their power extended beyond religious matters and into the civil arena: Lescarbot was thrown into jail, but soon released.

The history books do not reveal when Lescarbot died, it seems it was some time after 1629.

Let me conclude this short note on Lescarbot by quoting H. P. Biggar:

"Lescarbot had an inquisitive mind and an original manner of looking at life. The result is that, thanks to an agreeable style, he gives us a most entertaining account of the foundation of the first French colony in Acadia and of his own journey across the Atlantic in 1606.
After referring to Lescarbot's independent outlook (Lescarbot's legal training I suggest), Biggar continues:
"It was this independent outlook, with a faculty for clear thinking, which give to this work its special value. No work on the early history of America has been written with anything like the same vivacity and alertness of mind. To read Lescarbot is to enter again into the outlook of an intelligent Frenchman of the sixteenth century."

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[The Lion & The Lily -- Book 1 (1500-1763)]
[Settlement, Revolution & War -- Book 2 (1760-1815)]
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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)