FORTUNE & LA TOUR: THE CIVIL WAR IN ACADIA
M. A. MacDonald.
Volume 11 Number 5.
M. A. MacDonald lives in Rothesay, New Brunswick. She has a degree in history and political science from McMaster University and an MSc from Northwestern University. Her journalistic career served her in Chicago and Saint John, N.B. She has written articles on historical subjects that have appeared in The Journal of the New Brunswick Museum, The Atlantic Advocate, Atlantic Insight, and Chatelaine. Research for an article on Francoise Jacquelin led her to examine the early years of settlement in Acadia and the famous rivalry between de Charnisay and La Tour.
The first European settlements in North America north of Florida were the French settlements in Acadia on the coastline around the Bay of Fundy from the Penobscot River to the southern tip of Nova Scotia. In 1642, they were known as Pentagouet and Cape Sable. Acadia was an important jewel in France's empire, but its strategic importance and potential were squandered by two rival governors whose struggle reached its height between 1640 and 1645.
MacDonald brings to light new information on the reasons that open warfare occurred, the events of the conflict, and the contrasting background and characters of the protagonists, Charles de Saint-Etienne, Sieur de la Tour and Charles de Menou, Sieur d'Aulnay de Charnisay. She also examines the character of La Tour's wife, Francoise Marie Jacquelin, famed in story as the defender of Fort La Tour at Saint John, who was forced to watch her men hang and who died soon afterwards as a result of the perfidy of d'Aulnay de Charnisay. MacDonald tries to give an historically accurate rendering of all the events, basing her account on extensive research in France, Canada, and New England. Although she has opted for historical accuracy, MacDonald has not sacrificed the adventure and readability of the plot. She provides descriptions of the costumes and customs and modes of transport of the period that add colour to the bare bones of seige and counter seige, returns to France for court intrigues and string pulling, and excursions to Boston for loans or refuge. MacDonald admits that speculation was tempting due to the fact that she was writing about a time and people about which documentation was sparse and heavily biased, but she does avoid it commendably. She makes it clear that she is speculating when it does occur in the book.
Since this is a chronological account, there is no table of contents, but there is a good index. Quotations and references to other works are footnoted. There is a comprehensive bibliography and three appendices, one of which is the marriage contract between Francoise Jacquelin and Charles de la Tour, an unusual and complicated document.
There are black-and-white illustrations and charts, including the questionable portrait of Madame de la Tour, which MacDonald discusses in detail. This is the first book in a series of historical publications sponsored by the Saint John Bicentennial Inc. in celebration of the two hundredth birthday of Saint John in 1985. They have reason to be proud of their first effort. Recommended for high school, university and public libraries.
Catherine Cox, Moncton U. S., Moncton, NB.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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