Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique
The Company of the American Islands (French: Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique) was a French chartered company that in 1635 took over the administration of the French portion Saint-Christophe island from Compagnie de Saint-Christophe which was the only French settlement in the Caribbean at that time, and was mandated to actively colonise other islands. The islands settled for France under the direction of the Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique before it was dissolved in 1651 were:
- Guadeloupe (28 June 1635 to 1649)
- Martinique (15 September 1635 to 27 Sep 1650)
- St. Lucia (1643 to 27 Sep 1650)
- St. Martin (23 March 1648)
- St. Barts (1648)
- Grenada (17 March 1649 to 27 Sep 1650)
- St. Croix (1650)
In 1635, France's Cardinal Richelieu charged François Fouquet, the head of a small group of his councilors, with revitalizing the less than dynamic Compagnie de Saint-Christophe in which the Cardinal was a shareholder. Fouquet did so, renaming the company, "Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique". The company was charged with developing the islands of the Antilles, including converting their inhabitants to Catholicism. Pierre Bélain sieur d'Esnambuc, who had founded the Compagnie de Saint-Christophe, landed in Martinique in 1635, commencing France's colonization of that island. d'Esnambuc died prematurely in 1636 on Saint-Christophe, leaving the company and Martinique in the hands of his nephew, Du Parquet. Du Parquet proceeded to colonize Martinique, established the first settlement in St.Lucia in 1643, and headed an expedition which established a French settlement in Grenada in 1649.
In 1642 the company received a twenty-year extension of its charter. The King would name the Governor General of the company, and the company the Governors of the various islands. However, by the late 1640s, in France Mazarin had little interest in colonial affairs and the company languished. In 1651 it dissolved itself, selling its exploitation rights to various parties. The du Paquet family bought Martinique, Grenada, and Saint Lucia for 60,000 livres. The sieur d'Houel bought Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante, La Desirade, and the Saintes. The Knights of Malta bought Saint-Christophe, Saint Croix, Saint Barthélemy, and Saint Martin. In 1665, the Knights sold the islands they had acquired to the newly formed (1664) Compagnie des Indes occidentales.
- Oaul André Dubois, 1997, De l'oreille au coeur: naissance du chant religieux en langues amérindiennes dans les missions de Nouvelle-France 1600-1650. In Septentrion, p.37