123. French Explorations. Francis I of France and Charles V. of Spain were often fighting with each other over parts of Italy. These wars kept Spain from winning greater possessions in North America.

Another cause of the quarrel was the fact that the pope had drawn a north and south line dividing the non-Christian lands of the world between Spain and Portugal. Francis did not like this, for he was completely shut ouL He demanded to know "by what right do they monopolize the earth? Did our first father Adam make them his sole heirs? If so, I should like to see a copy of that will; and until I do, I shall feel at liberty to seize all the land in the New World that I can get."

With this intention, Francis sent Verrazano, an Italian sea captain, to the New World to explore the country and prey upon the Spaniards. Verrazano sailed along the coast from the Carolinas to Maine, stopping, it is supposed, in the bay now called New York (1524). But he had gone too far north to meet the Spaniards.

But King Francis was too busy making war in Italy to bother with occupying any part of the region explored.

Francis had a great rival in Charles V, the King of Spain, who had been made Emperor of Germany, and ruler of Holland and Belgium, parts of Italy, Austria, and of the New World. These countries were so far apart that they could not all act together. If they bad, Charles V might have beaten Francis.

Francis attacked Charles in the battle of Milan in Italy and won his claim to that city. His great victory was due to a wonderful knight called Chevalier Bayard, "the knight without fear and without reproach."

124. The Story of Chevalier Bayard. Many wonderful stories are told about Bayard. While yet a young man all the knights and ladies had been called together to witness knighthood conferred on him for bravery and skill in battle. He was chosen as one of the thirteen Frenchmen to do battle against a like number of Germans. The Frenchmen won. At one time, like Horatius of old, he held a bridge against two hundred Spaniards, and at another defended his fortress with only one thousand knights and soldiers against thirty-five thousand.

All men admired Bayard, so fine looking was he and so noble was his behavior toward the unfortunate whom the results of war placed in his hands. Twice Bayard was made a prisoner of war, but twice he was set free by his generous captors without a demand for ransom. Generosity begets generosity.

In one of the great wars between Francis and Charles the gallant Bayard received his death wound. He sat with his back propped against a tree. The Duke of Bourbon, a great French general who had deserted the cause of his king, came up to Bayard and expressed the deepest sympathy with the noble knight. "Pity not me," said the hero. "I am dying as an honest man should die. I have rather reason to pity you, when I see you thus in arms against your king, your country, and your oath." Bayard held the hilt of his sword before his eyes, confessed his sins to a friend, and did not cease to pray until his death.

These wars in Europe so occupied the time of both kings that they had less opportunity to make settlements in America.

125. The French Claim to North America. Just ten years after Bayard’s death (1534), Jacques Cartier, sailing from a port of France, reached the bleak shores of Newfoundland, lately become the fishing grounds of Europe. His frequent voyages gave France her claim to North America.

During one of these trips he discovered the St. Lawrence, built a fort where Quebec now stands, and spent the winter there. He made his way in rowboats for many miles up the river to a place which he named "Mont Real," now Montreal. Here he found the great rapids of the St. Lawrence barring his further progress. Cartier called them La Chine (China) rapids, for he believed that river was the pathway to China. During all his voyages to North America he kept in mind the idea that he might become famous, and his country, too, by discovering a northwest passage to the Far East. It was the dream of all sea captains sailing to America during the sixteenth century, that by some stroke of good fortune they might thus immortalize themselves.

But Canada was an ice-bound region compared with sunny, smiling France, and Cartier had lost a part of his crew from sickness caused by the cold weather. Frenchmen were not enthusiastic over Canada, for they had not yet learned that it was the greatest furbearing country in the world, consequently no permanent settlement was made.

126. Huguenot Colony in Florida. More than a quarter of a century after this time, the followers of Calvin, called Huguenots among the French, decided to plant a settlement in sunny Florida. Francis I was dead and religious wars had split the French people. Admiral Coligny, the great Huguenot leader, planned the colony in Florida as a home for the people of his own way of worship. In 1564 three ships laden with Huguenots and provisions sailed for Florida, and found a place for their colony at the mouth of the St. Johns River (Fort Caroline). But like the members of other first expeditions, many of the people were unfit to begin the hard work of making homes in the New World. Instead of clearing the ground and planting and tilling the soil, they spent the time seeking mines of gold and silver, and in hunting the Spaniards.

King Philip of Spain was angry when he heard of the doings of this body of "heretics." He immediately sent Menéndez, a bold leader, to occupy Florida and attack the Frenchmen. Menéndez planted his settlement and named it St. Augustine (1565). This settlement is famous as the first permanent one within the limits of the United States.

This done, Menéndez started to find the Frenchmen, about fifty miles away. He spared the women and children, but many of the men he promptly put to death. King Philip’s cruelty is clearly seen in the message he sent to Menéndez: "Say to him that as to those he has killed he has done well; and as to those he has spared, they shall be set to labor in the galleys."

This was the end of the French Huguenot settlement in America, but in after years hundreds of Huguenots emigrated to America and settled in the various towns of the English colonies, especially in Charleston, Boston, and New York.

From the Huguenots came some of the bravest and most famous men in America.

127. Champlain Founds New France (1608). (See map) Samuel de Champlain was a son of France, born of noble parents and bred to the life of a soldier. He laid the foundation of New France at Quebec. Wherever he went in America he made fast friends of the Indians, for he began to see the great stream of riches that the fur trade would turn into the lap of France.

He joined a war party of Algonquins going to attack the Iroquois, or Five Nations, living to the southward in what is now New York. They paddled their canoes up the mighty St. Lawrence, and on the Richelieu to a beautiful lake. What strange feelings he must have had as his canoe glided out upon the surface of a body of water far greater than any in his own beloved France!

One evening, near where the ruins of Ticonderoga now are, they beheld the war canoes of the hated Iroquois. The next day both parties drew up in battle array. The Algonquins opened their ranks, and Champlain stood forth. The Iroquois gazed in wonder upon the first European warrior they had ever seen. Champlain leveled his musket, and fired. Two chiefs fell. Another report rang through the woods, and the boldest warriors in North America fled in confusion.

There was great rejoicing among the Algonquins. This one battle made Champlain a hero. In the next few years he and the Algonquins frequently invaded the hunting grounds of the Iroquois, thus gaining their undying hatred for everything French.

Champlain lived in Canada many years, working for the good of his native land. He encouraged the missionaries, settled disputes between hostile tribes, fostered the fur trade, and urged the king to send out settlers for New France. Worn out with toil and travel, far away from kindred and native land, Champlain died at Quebec on Christmas Day, 1635.

128. Trying to Make New France Stronger. In after days the French king took a deeper interest in New France and began to build a chain of forts from the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi, to join those leading from the St. Lawrence. Thus, in spite of Spain, French power was so firmly planted in America that only a great war could break its hold.


The Leading Facts. 1. Francis I of France and Charles V of Spain fight in Europe. 2. What Francis said about the pope’s line. 3. The career of Bayard. 4. What Verrazano and Cartier did. 5. Coligny ‘s colonists murdered by the Spaniards. 6. Huguenots settle in America. 7. Champlain founds New France, and treats with the Indians on the St. -Lawrence. 8. Earns the hatred of the Iroquois by taking part in war against them. p. Champlain, the Father of New France.

Study Questions. 1. How did Spain lose in America by her wars in Europe? 2. Tell what reason the pope could find for giving the greater portion of the New World to Spain, and explain the effect on other nations. 3. Tell the story of Bayard. 4. What great idea carried the French up the St. Lawrence? 5. Whab proof can you give that the King of Spain was pleased with what Menéndez did? 6. Where among the English settlements did the Huguenots go? 7. Can you name any descendants of the Huguenots in America? 8. Who was Champlain? 9. Tell the story of his first battle with the Iroquois. io. What did Champlain accomplish?

Suggested Readings. Wright, Children’s Stories in American History, 269-280; McMurry, Pioneers on Land and Sea, Stories of the Eastern States and of Ocean Explorers, 1-34.

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© 2001 by Lynn Waterman