Cartier’s Second Voyage
Jacques Cartier’s first voyage was effectively a failure, but upon his return to France on September 5, 1534, he remained optimistic. With Dom Agaya and Taignoagny, Donconna’s two sons as captives, he had evidence of the world overseas.
Their stories managed to convince Franois I that it was worthwhile to send Cartier back on another expedition to “Canada”, the name the two Iroquoians gave to their father’s village, and the name Cartier had added to his map.
Dom Agaya and Taignoagny found themselves immersed in the court of Franois I, at the height of the Renaissance, amidst Dukes and Duchesses, artists and scholars. Among them was prominent clergyman, Andr Thevet. He was a cosmosgrapher, responsible to the kKing for unraveling the mysteries of the world.
“The king was hoping that even though this country did not bring him much revenue, it would at least bring him immortal honour and the grace of God to have rescued this barbarous people from ignorance and to render it to the Christian church,” Thevet wrote.
From his chambers in Paris, Thevet conjured a myth of a native North America that was godless yet surprisingly peaceful. In Domagaya and Taignoagny he saw a simple nobility, a people who lived a blissful existence and who could be easily conquered. “They have neither cities nor castles nor machines of war like us,” he wrote.
And so, in May 1535, Cartier set off with three ships instead of two, and 110 men rather than the 61 of his first voyage. He was buoyed by his two guides’ description of a river leading to their village of Stadacona and to Hochelaga, the Iroquoian settlement at the present site of Montreal.
The chief’s sons described it as a lengthy route into the interior that no one had explored to the end. It sounded like the passage Cartier was seeking, but he didn’t entirely trust the two men and he first checked the north shore to ascertain there wasn’t a more promising route.
He finally accepted their guidance, which led him to the St. Lawrence River, his most significant geographical discovery.
On September 7, 1535 Cartier reached the archipelago at Orlans, near Stadacona. Donnacona came out to the boat and embraced his sons and they spoke of France. Gifts were exchanged and the mood was festive but it was quickly replaced by a guarded suspicion on both sides.
“And all came over toward our ships,” Cartier noted, “showing many signs of joy, except the two men we had brought with us, to wit, Taignoagny and Dom Agaya, who were altogether changed in their attitude and goodwill, and refused to come on board our ships, although many times begged to do so. At this time we began somewhat to distrust them.”
The two sons presumably distrusted Cartier, having been kidnapped by him, but the mood of mutual suspicion was mitigated by the chance for mutual gain.
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