Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix

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Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix, S.J.
Pierre François Xavier Charlevoix.jpg
Born 24 or 29 October 1682
Saint-Quentin, Picardy, Kingdom of France
Died 1 February 1761(1761-02-01) (aged 78)
La Flèche, Maine
Kingdom of France
Nationality French
Occupation Catholic priest, professor, historian, author, explorer
Known for Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle-France

Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix, S.J. (Latin: Petrus Franciscus-Xaverius de Charlevoix;[1] 1682–1761) was a French Jesuit priest, traveller, and historian, often considered the first historian of New France.[2] He had little interest for "a life of suffering and deprivation for the conversion of Indian souls", but "an eager curiosity concerning life".[3]

Name[edit]

Charlevoix's name also appears as Pierre-François-Xavier de Charlevoix, [4] Pierre De Charlevoix,[5] and François-Xavier de Charlevoix.[6]

Life[edit]

Jesuit College in Quebec

Charlevoix was born at Saint-Quentin in the province of Picardy on 24[7][6] or 29 October 1682.[8] A descendant from a line of lesser nobility, his father held the post of deputy attorney general, and ancestors had served in positions in “great trust and high responsibility”[9] such as legal officers, aldermen, and mayors.[10]

On 15 September 1698,[6] at age 16,[11] he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Paris.[12] He studied philosophy at the College Louis-le-Grand from 1700 to 1704.[6] Between 1705[11] and 1709 Charlevoix was sent for his period of training in the Society called the regency to the Jesuit College in Quebec in the French colony of Canada,[13][14] where he taught grammar.[6] Upon completion of this stage of his training, he returned to the College Louis-le-Grand in Paris to study theology,[6] becoming a professor of belles lettres. One of his students was the young Voltaire,[15] who later developed strong views on New France. (See A few acres of snow.) Charlevoix was ordained as a priest in 1713. In 1715, he published his first complete work, on the establishment and progress of the Catholic Church in Japan, adding extensive notes on the manners, customs, and costumes of the inhabitants of the Empire and its general political situation, and on the topography and natural history of the region.

Charlevoix’s work was halted by a royal commission requesting a survey of the historic boundaries of Acadia, recently lost to the British in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.[16] He left from La Rochelle in June 1720 and reached Quebec by the end of September.[6] His knowledge of North America led to an extension of his assignment, under instructions to find a route to the "Western Sea" (i.e., the Pacific Ocean) but "still give the impression of being no more than a traveler or missionary.”[17] Having recently lost control of the Hudson Bay and lacking funds for a major expedition, the French Crown equipped Charlevoix with two canoes, eight companions, and basic merchandise.[18] From Quebec, he set out for the colony of Saint-Domingue via the Saint Lawrence River and the Great Lakes to Michilimackinac, where he made an excursion to the bottom of Green Bay. He then voyaged along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, trying to reach the Illinois River from the Chicago, but the shallowness of the water forced him up the St. Joseph to the headwaters of the Theakiki, whose waters fall into the Illinois River, and then to the Mississippi in 1721, which he considered "the finest confluence in the world".[citation needed] Charlevoix went down this river to its mouth and visited the Illinois Country. The ship on which he embarked to go from there to Saint-Domingue was wrecked at the entrance of the Bahama Channel. Aided by nuns of the order of the Ursulines of Quebec, whose founder St Marie of the Incarnation became the subject of one of Charlevoix's books,[19] he and his companions returned to the Mississippi along the coast of Florida. Charlevoix's second trip to Saint-Domingue was more fortunate. He arrived in the colony at the beginning of September 1722, setting out again at the end of that month and landing at Le Havre on December 24.[6] Charlevoix kept a record of the entire voyage, the Journal d’un voyage fait par l’ordre du Roi dans l’Amérique Septentrionale de la Nouvelle France[20] Charlevoix's records of local geography were later used to improve regional maps. Unsuccessful in reaching the Pacific, he reported upon his return in 1722 of two possible routes: by the Missouri River "whose source is certainly not far from the sea” or by the establishment of a mission in Sioux territory, from which contact with tribes further west may have been possible.[21]

In 1723, he traveled to Italy.[6]

For twenty-two years from 1733 to 1755, Charlevoix was one of the directors of the Mémoires[6] or Journal de Trévoux, a monthly journal of literature, history, and science. On the pages of that Journal, he lay down in 1735 the plan for a corpus of histories that should have given an all-inclusive account of the extra-European world. The plan was announced when his history of Japan—the first installment of the proposed series—was about to be published.[22] In 1744 he published his History of New France, drawing on various authors as well as his own observations, thus providing the most comprehensive book on the history and geography of the French colony.

His death, at La Flèche on 1 February 1761,[7][8] prevented him from progressing his history of New France beyond 1736.

Legacy[edit]

Many places are named after him, listed here.

The region of Charlevoix near Quebec City is one, as are Charlevoix County and its county seat Charlevoix, Michigan in the state of Michigan. The Montreal Metro has a station named after him.

Works[edit]

Charlevoix's works, enumerated in the Bibliographie des Peres de la Compagnie de Jesus (Bibliography of Jesuit Priests) by Carlos Sommervogel, fall into two groups.[clarification needed] Several of his works have maps by the French philosophe (Enlightenment intellectual) and engineer Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, which represent the most accurate material of the time.[23] His History and General Description of New France was of capital importance for Canadian history. His History and General Description of Japan was an expansion on the prior work of Engelbert Kaempfer.[24]

See also Charlevoix's work in Lénardon's index to the Journal du Trévoir.[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Hist. Para. (1779).
  2. ^ Charlevoix, Pierre-François-Xavier De. History and General Description of New France. Translated by John Gilmary Shea. Vol. 1. New York: John Gilmary Shea, 1866. 1.
  3. ^ Kellogg, Louise Phelps. Charlevoix, Pierre-Francois-Xavier De. Journal of a Voyage to North America. London: Dodsley., 1761. XV.
  4. ^ Hist. Esp. (1730).
  5. ^ Hist. & Desc. Gen. Nouv. Fr. (1744).
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Cath. Enc. (1913).
  7. ^ a b Charlevoix, Pierre-Francois-Xavier De. Journal of a Voyage to North America. London: Dodsley., 1761. XV.
  8. ^ a b EB (1911).
  9. ^ Charlevoix, Pierre-François-Xavier De. History and General Description of New France. Translated by John Gilmary Shea. Vol. 1. New York: John Gilmary Shea, 1866. 1.
  10. ^ "Pierre François Xavier De Charlevoix." Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. 2000. Accessed February 19, 2012. http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?BioId=35371.
  11. ^ a b EB (1878).
  12. ^ Charlevoix, Pierre-François-Xavier De. History and General Description of New France. Translated by John Gilmary Shea. Vol. 1. New York: John Gilmary Shea, 1866. 1.
  13. ^ Charlevoix, Pierre-François-Xavier De. History and General Description of New France. Translated by John Gilmary Shea. Vol. 1. New York: John Gilmary Shea, 1866. 2.
  14. ^ " The professors all came from France. Scholastics, students of theology, came in their twenties to teach the grammar classes for 2 or 3 years before returning to France. The priests came in their thirties and spent at least a quarter century in New France, alternating between their roles as professor and missionary to the natives. Some devoted themselves entirely to education. The college had among its professors Father Pierre-François-Xavier de CHARLEVOIX, once Voltaire's master, whose Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle France was published in Paris in 1744." Collège des Jésuites in The Canadian Encyclopedia]
  15. ^ Charlevoix, Pierre-François-Xavier De. History and General Description of New France. Translated by John Gilmary Shea. Vol. 1. New York: John Gilmary Shea, 1866. 2.
  16. ^ Charlevoix, Pierre-François-Xavier De. History and General Description of New France. Translated by John Gilmary Shea. Vol. 1. New York: John Gilmary Shea, 1866. 2.
  17. ^ Charlevoix, Pierre-François-Xavier De. History and General Description of New France. Translated by John Gilmary Shea. Vol. 1. New York: John Gilmary Shea, 1866. 4.
  18. ^ Charlevoix, Pierre-François-Xavier De. History and General Description of New France. Translated by John Gilmary Shea. Vol. 1. New York: John Gilmary Shea, 1866. 3.
  19. ^ Charlevoix, Pierre-François-Xavier De. History and General Description of New France. Translated by John Gilmary Shea. Vol. 1. New York: John Gilmary Shea, 1866. 4.
  20. ^ Charlevoix, Pierre-François-Xavier De. History and General Description of New France. Translated by John Gilmary Shea. Vol. 1. New York: John Gilmary Shea, 1866. 4.
  21. ^ "Pierre François Xavier De Charlevoix." Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. 2000. Accessed February 19, 2012. http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?BioId=35371
  22. ^ Campagnola, Francesco (3 Aug 2015). "Japan in Early Modern Scholarly Journals, 1665–1750". History of European Ideas. doi:10.1080/01916599.2015.1059593. 
  23. ^ Charlevoix, Pierre-François-Xavier De. History and General Description of New France. Translated by John Gilmary Shea. Vol. 1. New York: John Gilmary Shea, 1866. 6.
  24. ^ Charlevoix, Pierre-Francois-Xavier De. Journal of a Voyage to North America. London: Dodsley., 1761. XXIII
  25. ^ Lénardon, Dante (1986), Index du Journal de Trévoux 1701–1767, Geneva: Editions Slatkine .

Bibliography[edit]