This Week in History


Wife defends Fort La Tour in husband's absence

For the week of Monday April 19, 2009
n April 16, 1645, Fort La Tour fell to Charles de Menou d'Aulnay following a heroic defence by Françoise-Marie Jacquelin, Mrs. La Tour.

The Fate of the Defendants of Fort Latour

The Fate of the Defendants of Fort Latour
by Adam Sherriff Scott RCA
© LAC / C-011237

The attack on Fort La Tour was the culmination of a growing conflict between Charles de Saint-Étienne de La Tour and d'Aulnay over control of Acadia. There was confusion over who was in charge. The King of France granted land and titles to each man. However, the royal edict assigned them overlapping domains, so that La Tour's headquarters was found in the lands granted to d'Aulnay and vice versa. Inevitably their clashes mounted as both men claimed to be Governor of Acadia.

In this struggle, La Tour's best advocate was his wife, Françoise-Marie Jacquelin. Like many women of her time, Mrs. La Tour enthusiastically embraced the defence of her husband's interests travelling to France twice in the early 1640s to plead his case in court.

In the spring of 1645, she stayed at the Fort while her husband sought support in Boston. While he was away d'Aulnay attacked. Mrs. La Tour mounted a vigorous defence, inspiring the small garrison of 45 men. She personally directed the efforts. However, the defenders were heavily outnumbered and after a siege of three days and nights, Mrs. La Tour capitulated on Easter Monday. D'Aulnay offered as a condition of surrender that he would not harm her men. But once the fort was in his hands, he hanged the remaining defenders, forcing Mrs. La Tour to watch, a rope around her neck. She died three weeks later; some say due to grief, while others say d'Aulnay poisoned her.

Charles de Menou d'Aulnay

Charles de Menou d'Aulnay
© LAC / C-011086

The fall of Fort La Tour consolidated d'Aulnay's claim to Acadia and La Tour retreated to Québec. However, when d'Aulnay drowned in 1650, La Tour went to France and was confirmed in all his powers and rights. But d'Aulnay's creditors were making trouble and, in 1653, La Tour married d'Aulnay's widow to consolidate their claims on Acadia. Their success was short-lived as the English gained control of Acadia in 1654.

Located in Saint John, New Brunswick, Fort La Tour is a national historic site commemorating La Tour's role as Governor of Acadia, the fur trade, and Mrs. La Tour's heroic actions. La Tour's rival Charles de Menou d'Aulnay is also recognized as a person of national historic significance.

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