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UNIT #10: FRENCH - French Exploration (W10:D1)


It was under Francis I, King of France that exploration of the New World became essential to their expansion. French fishermen had fished the American east coast for years; Captain Thomas Aubert returned with the first Native ambassador, to share their culture, clothing, transportation, and weapons. Giovanni da Verrazzano may have been among his crew. This intrigued Francis I and he desired to find a shipping route west to Asia.


In 1522, Ferdinand Magellan’s crew had returned from circumnavigating the globe. This only heightened both science, with the understanding that the world was round, and trade. With Spain in the lead, France was not to be outdone. In 1523, Francis I hired Verrazzano to return to North America and map the entire East Coast, from Spanish owned Florida to Terranova - referred to as “Newfound Land.” Their goal was to find a northern route to Asia. Four ships set sail and after devastating weather, only two returned.


After repairing the ships, they set sail along the southern route to Florida, which was under watchful guard of Spain and Portugal. Landing near Cape Fear, in soon-to-be North Carolina, he sent a letter back to King Francis I that this was where the Pacific Ocean was to be reached, but that he would find another way further north, not already discovered by Spain. Traveling North, he discovered the entrance of the Hudson Bay and groups from the Wampanoag and Narragansett. He continued north around Cape Cod and up to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and then returned to France, on July 8, 1524, to express his belief that there was no northern route to Asia. He called the region Francesca, after the King, but his brother’s map named it Nova Gallia (New France).


Verrazzano set out on a second voyage in 1527, to South America, with four ships. Losing one in a storm, he took the other two southward towards Brazil and harvested brazilwood to bring back to France. Verrazzano still could not find a route to the Pacific, so he returned a third time in 1528, but this is where the story gets murky. Some say his ship was attacked by the Carib cannibals, but some believe him to have turned to piracy, becoming the well-known Jean Fleury. No one knows. Unlike Magellan and Cortes, Verrazzano did not have a publicist, or anyone to further his legacy.


Activity: Trust Experiment – This is a family/classroom activity: everyone gets to participate. Create a maze, in a room, with obstacles on the ground (make sure you can get through them) that you will have to guide someone blindfolded through. They will do the same for you. First, give them as much time to go through it as possible, then make them do it in a shorter, set amount of time.


How did doing it blindfolded make you feel? ________________________________________________________


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How did you do with someone else’s help? __________________________________________________________


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Jacques Cartier (1491-1557) (W10:D2)

Born into wealth, James Cartier became a highly respected mariner for the Duchy of Brittany, a medieval feudal state established on a peninsula on the West coast of France. When the two governments (France and Brittany) united, Cartier was introduced to King Francis I directly by Bishop Jean Le Veneur. The king was in search of a navigator to hire, to map out the entire east coast of the New World, find gold and treasures, and find a route to Asia. Le Veneur presented Cartier to the King, because Cartier already had experience sailing to Newfoundland and Brazil.


On April 20, 1534, Cartier set sail. He arrived 21 days later, much different than Columbus and all those who traveled closer to the equator! While there, he mapped the Gulf of St. Lawrence and met with two indigenous tribes, including a brief visit with the Mi’kmaq tribe, (whom he traded with), and then the St. Lawrence Iroquoians. Cartier’s men had been working to plant a cross, to lay claim to the area for France, when the natives came upon them. Understanding what the Frenchmen were doing, the mood soured. Though there is some disagreement by historians on what happened, during a possible struggle, two of the Chief’s sons were captured. After negotiations, the Chief agreed that the sons should travel with Cartier back to France, on the condition that they bring back European goods that they could trade. Note: During this voyage, they hunted hundreds of seabirds related to penguins. Cartier returned to France, in September 1534.


Since Cartier had made an oath with the Iroquoian Chieftain to return his sons with tradeable goods, he made arrangements to return the next year. They sailed with three ships this time, directly into the Gulf of Lawrence and up the St. Lawrence River, to the tribe’s capital, Stadacona, and then Hochelaga, where they met up with Chief Donnacona. Cartier was convinced that the river was the Northern Passage to the Pacific, but he was halted by rapids and could not go any further. He only spent a few days with the Iroquoian tribe, before realizing they had to stay the winter. Being provided land by the tribe, they created a fort to hold them over through the winter, and began to prepare supplies to keep them alive through the brutal winter to come. It was so bad, that the river froze over about 2 meters thick in ice, encased in four feet of snow. Besides the weather, scurvy set in among the tribe, first, and then spread to the Frenchmen, leaving around 50 Iroquoians dead. It was the tribe that saved the French, by telling them of a drink (later called Spruce beer) that was used to cure scurvy. 85 out of Cartier’s 110-member crew survived. He declared it a miracle, and the tribe Godsends.


On his return, Cartier invited Donnacona to travel back to France and share the tales of the New World - including the Kingdom of Saguenay, which was to be full of gold and other treasures. He also brought back many treasures of the New World. Arriving in France on July 15, 1536, he returned to a hero’s welcome, especially by the King, who accepted much of this treasure and the stories from Donnacona. Francis I quickly ordered Cartier back to the New World, to colonize the area and rule it as “Captain General.” Yet it took them ‘til 1541 to return. During that time, though they were all treated well, the visiting Iroquoians and Chief Donnacona died. So, in 1541, they were to return with the sole purpose of finding the Kingdom of Saguenay and its many treasures, as told by the Chief. Though he promised Cartier command, Francis I named his close friend Jean-Francois de La Rocque de Roberval Lieutenant General of New France. Roberval sent Cartier in an advanced party of five ships, back to Canada.


Cartier had finally arrived early enough to plant a crop and secure a settlement and two forts, naming the settlement Charlesbourg-Royal. The men began collecting what they thought were diamonds and gold, only to later find them to be simple quartz and iron pyrites (fool’s gold). After unloading the cattle, supplies, and settlers, two of the ships returned to France for more supplies and settlers. Cartier set off in search of Saguenay, but was turned around, due to harsh weather. When he returned, he found that the tribe had turned against them. The French were attacked, and 35 settlers were killed before securing the fort. After another brutal winter, Cartier decided to return to France. He met up with Roberval on his way home and, though he wanted Cartier to return with him, Cartier escaped and returned to France - many think with a hull full of gold and diamonds.


Roberval, on the other hand, took this opportunity to maroon his niece, Marguerite, and her lover, on the “Isle of Demons,” offshore of Quebec, to claim her riches when she was reported dead and pay off his many debts. She, and her lover, survived. While marooned, she gave birth, and the family was rescued and returned to France. She became a celebrity after tales of her rescue, yet no actions were taken against Roberval.


Activity: Cooperative Digital Escape Room – Cartier and Roberval’s niece were both stuck in hard situations, but were able to escape. This activity is part of an escape room, where your family, classmates, or friends are trying to discover a way into a lockbox for a prize. You will be setting up this escape room, but you can get help to plan it. Below are the steps you need to take. PLEASE don’t lock them in a room and make them try to get out - leave that to the professional designers!


Step #1 – Find a lockbox or small safe with a number code on the exterior. You are going to give them riddles and clues around the room to solve, to find each number - and what order they go in. Make the content of the lockbox something they really want or desire, including food, toys, money (if you have to), or prizes. Any local hardware or general store will have it, or you can make your own out of a box around your house and they have to guess the code. If you are looking for a pre-made kit, try: teacheveryday.com/escape-room-in-the-classroom/


Step #2 – Get organized, by finding five riddles or clues you can make that will lead them to one of the numbers. If possible, make the clue part of the room, so you don’t have to change the room around. Examples would be to find how many clocks there are in the room or find a hidden number. Be creative, but don’t make it too hard. Find a way to direct people to that clue. Then, the fifth clue should be how to organize the numbers. You could also make them coincide with history, math, or science.


3. Tell a story – with every escape room there should be a backstory. Help the players feel like part of the game.


4. Release the hounds - as in, let’s play your game. These are a lot of fun and you will learn something new each time you hold one of these. Write down your experiences and clues so you can use them again. Don’t overthink it and if your players need help, don’t hesitate to give them verbal hints on how to find and answer your clues. And most important - have fun!


Part 2 – Write down the trivia/clues you created for future use. You may have found some really good ones that you don’t want to forget in the future.


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2. _____________________________________________________________________________________

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9. _____________________________________________________________________________________

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