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Spain and France Influence in Europe and in the New World

Iole A. Apicella

Contents of Curriculum Unit 90.01.08:

To Guide Entry

Spain and France are two countries sharing the same border. Over the centuries they have influenced each other, tried to overpower each other and, after their power extended abroad, they tried to steal from each other in more ways than one.

Whatever the political reasons for their behavior, culturally they have continued to look on each other for inspiration that influenced their societies at different stages of their existence as world powers.

This unit will consider two special periods in the life of these two countries: the Middle Ages and the Discovery of America.

During the Middle Ages, Spain was able to influence France directly, mainly the South, through its language.

After the Discovery of America, Spain had a profound impact on the destiny of the territories it conquered and not only was it unable to establish a relationship of confidence and trust with them, it also failed to prepare them for self government. The results of this inefficiency are such that today the Latin-American countries are still trying to find their own identity, they are impoverished from the exploitation of their own resources by foreign hands, and their governments are still very shaky from lack of real leadership.

France, on the other hand, with the new ideas of 1789 coming from her poets and the revolution itself, was able to inspire a spirit of freedom into the conquered nations, to influence them culturally and, on certain occasions, to take advantage on its own account.

It is my belief that, because of the previous dominations, natives from certain parts of Central and South America are still regarded as people without a nation with no historical importance.

The objectives of this unit are the following:

1. Make the student aware of the political situation in Europe during the Middle Ages when the countries had not yet clearly established their boundaries.
2. Show the importance of early diplomacy and the impact literature had on society during the Middle Ages, 15th and 16th centuries.
3. Give a background of Spain and Christopher Columbus prior to the Discovery of America.
4. Review the discovery, the conquest and the settlement of the Spanish in the different areas.
5. Demonstrate, by talking about lost civilizations, how a great power is capable of great injustices.
6. Review some of the authors mentioned in this unit in order to give an idea of the feelings of the persons involved in the conquest.
7. Talk about the effects of the French Revolution on the new countries, yesterday and today.
8. Point out how the actions of short-sighted people can affect the destiny of entire generations for centuries.
Coming from a foreign country myself, I could not help but notice that our society tends to under evaluate a person with an accent, associating the imperfection of speech with ignorance or stupidity. By reviewing the history, the conquest and domination of several territories in America, it is my goal to make the Latin-American students in particular, aware of their past, to dispel the feeling that they are coming from a lesser country.

The Middle Ages and the Langue d’Oc

We date the Middle Ages between 476, the year of the fall of the Roman Empire and 1453, when the Turks capture Constantinople.

During this period deep transformations occur in Europe.

The relationship between Spain and France begin with a succession of events that would affect them for many centuries to come:

1. Infiltration and subsequent conquest by the Franks of the Spanish territory in the VIIIth century.
2. Rebellion to the French domination by the Spanish and deliverance from it during the same century.
3. Beginning of diplomatic marriages between France and Spain.

1. Infiltration and conquest by the Franks

Charlemagne crossed the border with Spain in 778 to fight the Moors in Saragossa. He succeeded in capturing Barcelona in 801 and driving the Moors out of the Northeastern corner of the peninsula.

2. Rebellion to the French domination

This event took place at the time of Count Wilfred (865-896), when Barcelona became independent. But already a few years before, in 778 the Basques had started to rebel against the Frankish domination, defeating Charlemagne’s soldiers.

3. Diplomatic marriages

They became a powerful tool used many times to bring peace between France and Spain.

The first political marriage between the two countries is recorded during the XIth century when the Emperor Alfonso of Spain married Constance of Burgundy. This marriage is followed by the marriage of Alfonso’s daughter Urraca, who married Raymund, Count of Burgundy.

This last political marriage not only brought peace but also with the bride came Spanish traditions and languages to the Southern court.

From this moment on, the Spanish influence on French literature is established, giving a definite style to the language of the South of France which would be called Langue d’Oc.

Langue d’Oc

The Langue d’Oc was the direct result from Latin and several other dialects from the Southern part of France including also one from Spain, Catalan, named after the Spanish region, Catalonia. The particularly harmonious sound of this language made it very suitable for a brand new style, that became very fashionable during the Xth century. This style was spread all over Europe by very talented poets who called themselves Troubadours.

The Troubadours

The need of new visions for mankind is expressed in literature by a particular breed of poets who call themselves Troubadours. The style is so inviting that even their masters imitate it. Among the nobles singing according to this new fashion are Guilhelm VII (1150-73) Count of Orange in France, Alfonso I, king of Castille (1150-1214) and Adolfo of Aragon (1162-1196) both of Spain.

The Troubadours had an enormous social influence, they enjoyed an unusual freedom of speech which allowed them, among other things, to create a light atmosphere in the courts.

Their creativity extended to different fields of interests, but especially to war and love.

Two different kinds of poetry stand out during the Middle Ages: the Epic Poem, or la Chanson de Geste, and the Laws of Love.

The Epic Poem or la Chanson de Geste

One of the universal themes during the X-XIIth century is the glorification of national heroes for their actions in wars. These battles held a profound meaning for the country and were usually linked to great historical moments.

This kind of poetry was important not only because it described great events, but also because these heroic and daring actions were chanted in front of a large audience.

Each chapter is quite long since the Chanson de Geste was not read but rather chanted so many verses were repeated as refrains.

The poets did not finish their stories in one day, so beginning the new chapter, they made a summary of the previous episodes, repeating some verses.

Two poems stand out in the history of the Epic Poem or La Chanson de Gestes:

1. La Chanson de Roland (France).
2. Cantar de Mio Cid (Spain).

1. La Chanson de Roland

The common theme of this poem is the hope for a unified France, while the nobles try to discourage the power of the king as supreme lord of the country.

La Chanson de Roland takes inspiration directly from Charlemagne and the defeat of Roland, Charlemagne’s nephew, at Roncevaux in 778, where the young hero is killed with his knights.

2. Cantar de Mio Cid

The poem describes the acts of valor of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (? 1043-1099) later called El Cid, fighting to restore the Spanish supremacy over the Moorish domination.

The traditional title is El Cid Campeador, coming from the Arabic Sayyd (Lord and Master) and the Spanish Campeador (Winner of battles). This title is given to national heroes.

El Cid shows the impact of the Spanish culture on the French culture not only during the Middle Ages, but also much later, when Pierre Corneille will take inspiration from this Spanish Hero to write his own “Le Cid”.

The Laws of Love

The new trend or attitude towards love is shown especially by Rigaut de Barbezieux. With him we find the real Troubadourean style and we also have an idea of how much the Spanish language influenced the French language during this particular period.

Love at this time becomes more refined, the poems are sung, generally accompanied by instruments, no more chanted as for the Chanson de Geste. It is also the ideal love for a lady, usually married, whose qualifications are generosity, loyalty and elegance.

The Laws of Love were regarded as a code of behavior to be observed by the gentlemen towards the ladies.

It should be interesting for the student to realize the love has not really changed much from the middle Ages to our days:

Domn’etz de mim qu’eu non aus dir amia,

Car non es ges de vers vos l’amistatz

Per qu’ru m’en soi vergonhos et iratz,

Car d’amor es tan pauca ma chausia

De vos qu’eu mais desir que re del mon,

Qu’aissi m’a tot Amors en sa bailia

Qu’en mi non pot null’ochaizo trobar,

Ni el meu cor nuls enjanz non s’escon

que jam posca Amors ochaisonar.

Vous Ftes ma “dame”, et je n’ose vous

appeler mon “amie”,

car de votre part il n’ys point d’amitié

Aussi suis-je humilié et attristé

si petite est la part d’amour qui me

vient de vous, dame,

que j’aime plus qu’autre chose au monde,

car Amour me tient si bien sous sa


qu’il ne peut trouver en moi aucun pretexte

a reprocher et aucune tromperie dont

Amour puisse me reprendre ni se cacher

en mon coeur.

The direct Spanish influence on the French literature comes to a halt for several centuries. However the diplomatic marriages between the royal Spanish house and the French nobility continue. Two important unions are between Louis XIII, who marries Anne, daughter of Phillip III of Spain followed by the one of Marie Therese, daughter of Phillip IV of Spain who marries in 1659 Louis XIV, later called the Sun King.

The resurgence of Spain as a world power

Spain becomes a world power again during the XVth century owing to a series of circumstances:

1. Queen Isabella of Castille and King Fernando of Aragón rule Spain and successfully drive the Moors out of Spain.
2. The presence and persistence at the Court of Spain of Christopher Columbus.

Christopher Columbus and his discovery

Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1446, Christopher Columbus studied geometry, astronomy and cosmography. After reading “The Book” by Marco Polo and the “Imago Mundi” by Pierre d’Ailly, and reviewing several theories of mariners, he finally developed the theory that the world was a sphere. He underestimated however the size of the Asiatic continent.

After eliminating Portugal for political and personal reasons from his list of possible sponsors, he asked Spain to help him prove his theory (keeping however France a possible resort).

After much tribulation the agreement was signed and three ships: the Niña, the Santa Mar’a and the Pinta were assigned to him to test his theory.

On October 12,1492 an island named Guanahani by the Indians (as he called them) was sighted. Columbus called it San Salvador.

Columbus made four trips to the new land.

This is the chronology of his discoveries:

First voyage

San Salvador (October 12,1492)

Santa Mar’a de la Concepción (Rum Cay)

Fernandina (Long Island)

Isabella (Crooked Island)

Cuba or Juana ( in honor of the young princess of Spain)


Haiti-Santo Domingo

Second Voyage

Island of Dominica ( November 13 ,1493 )

Marigalante and Guadelupe



San Martin

Santa Cruz

The Virgin Islands

San Juan Bautista (Puerto Rico)


Third Voyage

Trinidad (July 31, 1498)

Isla Santa (South America)

Golfo de la Ballena (Gulf de Paria)



Fourth Voyage

Island of MIslet de Guanaja (40 miles east of Honduras )



The immediate result of the discovery was the creation of the West Indian Slave Trade (February 2nd, 1494), as Columbus wrote to their highnesses Isabella and Fernando. At first the Indians were used as laborers, but then they were shipped to Europe to be sold as slaves.

The purpose of the conquest of the land was not only the exploitation of its natural resources but also the teaching of the Catholic religion.

Although the new religion had the merit to end human sacrifices in its name many atrocities were committed.

Conquering South America in particular Spain not only condemned peaceful natives with no conception at all of ownership, greediness, shame or evil to a lifetime term of slavery, but stole from them their own dignity as people and moreover their past.

This is the case of the Incas in Peru.

Headed by Pizarro, the Spanish conquistadors invaded and destroyed the great city of Tiahuanacu on the lake Tipicam, managing not only to kill their king and his followers but also to wipe out a great civilization.

Another lost civilization is the one of the Aztecs.

The conquest and therefore the disappearance of it is due to Hernán Cortés, who between 1519 and 1521 conquered Mexico. The Aztecs were also called Mexicans and were famous for two reasons.

1. Their advanced knowledge of astronomy.

2. Their custom of practicing human sacrifices.

The discovery of the “Indies” was an open door not only for Spain but also for the other European Countries.

France did not miss the opportunity and under the kingdom of Francois I, Jacques Cartier occupied Canada, Terre Neuve and Acadie. Others followed:

René Robert Cavelier, sieur de la Salle (1682)

He went down the Mississippi from the French possessions in Canada and claimed all the land along the river and all its effluents for Louis XIV of France and called it Louisiana.

Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de la Vérendrye (l743)

He discovered with his sons Lake Winnipeg and Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the prairie, the South of Missouri and the Rocky mountains.

Louis de Saint Denis (1714-17)

He accomplished the crossing of Texas.

Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1768)

He explored Samoa, New Hebrides and New Guinea in the Pacific.

In addition in 1763, the French could claim the ownership of the Antilles (Haiti, Martinique, Guadelupe, Marie Galante, Saintes, Desirade, Tobago, Santa Lucia, Saint Croix, Grenada, the Grenadines and Saint Vincent).

Lesson Plans

Students should be introduced to political observations and involvement in social issues at an early stages.

These lessons plans are geared to improve the language skills and the critical observations of the students,

After introducing the Middle Ages and Spain and France as forming nations, the teacher can encourage the following discussions:

1. Infiltration. What does the word mean? How many definitions can we find to this word? If we give political meaning to this word can we find any example of political infiltration in modern times?
2. Rebellion. State the meaning of the word. How many kinds of rebellion can we differentiate? Can rebellion be nonviolent? Can it be used for good purposes?
3. The Troubadours. Who were they? Can we compare any of today’s musicians or music styles to the Troubadours? (Some modern music styles can be compared as for lyrics such as Rap, Heavy Metal etc.).
4. How the student imagines life during the Middle Ages. This particular question opens the door to many possibilities for the teacher:
a. The student can write a composition letting his or
her fantasy go
b. If the class is particularly talented in art, the
students can draw scenes from the discovery of America
such as ships, Indians, instruments etc.
c. A play could be set up using the children fantasy
for the occasion, decor, poems to use etc.

Literary movements in Spain, France during the XVth-XVIIIth centuries and their repercussions on the New Continent.

The discovery of the New World allows Spain to introduce two new types of literature:

1. Literature of Conquest (1492-1600)
2. Literature of Rebellion(1808-1826)

1. Literature of Conques

The characteristic of this new style is that it is directly linked with the discovery of the New World. All the writers are participants in the conquest, but they write from their own point of view, however keeping their experiences true to the facts.

Some excerpts from different authors can give a clear idea of what Literature of Conquest really is:

Letter of Christopher Columbus:

...On the thirty third day after leaving Cadiz I came into the Indian Sea, where I discovered many islands inhabited by numerous people, I took possession of all of them for our most fortunate King by making public proclamation and unruling his standard, no one making any resistance. To the first of them I have given the name of our blessed Savior, trusting in whose aid I had reached this and all the rest; but the Indians call it Guanahani. To each of the others also I gave a new name, ordering one to be called Sancta Maria de Conceptión, another Fernandina, another Hysabella, another Johana,... The island called Johana, as well as the others in its neighborhood, is exceedingly fertile. It has numerous harbors on all sides, very safe and wide, above comparison with any I have ever seen. Through it flow many very broad and health giving rivers’ and there are in it numerous very lofty mountains. All these islands are very beautiful, and of quite different shapes, easy to be traversed, and full of the greatest variety of trees reaching the stars. I think these never lose their leaves, as I saw them looking as green and lovely as they are wont to be in the month of May in Spain. Some of them were in leaf, and some in fruit; each flourishing in the condition its nature required. The nightingale was singing and various other little birds, when I was rambling among them in the month of November. There are also in the island called Johana seven or eight kinds of palms, which as readily surpass ours in eight and beauty as do all the other trees, herbs, and fruits. There are also wonderful pine woods, fields, and extensive meadows, birds of various kinds, and honey, and all the different metals except iron... As soon as I had come into this sea, I took by force some Indians from the first island, in order that they might learn from us, and at the same time tell us what they knew about affairs in these regions. This succeeded admirably: for in a short time we understood them and they us both by gesture and signs and words, and they were of great service to us. They are coming now with me, and have always believed that I have come from heaven, notwithstanding the long time they have been, and still remain with us. They were the first who told this wherever we went, one calling to another, with a loud voice, “Come, come, you will see men from heaven.” Whereupon both women and men, children and adults, young and old, laying aside the fear they had felt a little before, flocked eagerly to see us, a great crowd thronging about our steps, some bringing food, and others drink, with greatest love and incredible good will.

Columbus was a voluminous writer.

Ninety-seven pieces of writing by him, memoirs, relations, or letters, exist, or are known to have existed. All have been published and translated.

Hernán Cortés: Account of the City of Mexico

...In order, most potent Sire, to convey to your Majesty a just conception of the great extent of this noble city of Temixtitan, and of the many rare and wonderful objects it contains, of the government and dominions of Motecauma, the sovereign; of the religious rites and customs that prevail...it would require the labor of many accomplished writers, and much time for the completion of the task...I am fully aware that the account will appear so wonderful as to be deemed scarcely worthy of credits since even we who have seen these things with our own eyes, are yet so amazed as to be unable to comprehend their reality. Before I begin to describe this great city and the others already mentioned, it may well for the better understanding of the subject to say something of the configuration of Mexico, in which they are situated, it being the principal seat of Moctezuma’s power. This province is in the form of a circle, surrounded on all sides by lofty and rugged mountains; its level surface comprises an area of about seventy leagues in circumference, including two lakes, that overspread nearly the whole valley, being navigated by boats more than fifty leagues round. One of these lakes contains fresh, and the other, which is the larger of the two, salt water. On one side of the lakes, in the middle of the valley, a range of highlands divides them from one another, with the exception of a narrow strait which lies between the highlands and the lofty sierras. This strait is a bow shot wide, and connects the two lakes; and by this means a trade is carried between the cities and other settlements on the lakes in canoes without the necessity of traveling by land. As the salt lake rises and fall with its tides like the sea, during the time of high water it pours into the other lake with the rapidity of a powerful stream; and on the other hand, when the tide has ebbed, the water runs from fresh into the salt lake.

This great city of Temixtitan (Mexico) is situated in this salt lake...

Cortes’s own letters or dispatches to the Emperor Charles V furnish us the most interesting and important material for the study of the conquest of Mexico. These letters were written in the very midst of the events and scenes described.

Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca: Journey to New Mexico

.., Whilst we still feigned to be displeased lest their fright should leave them, a remarkable circumstance happened, which was that on the same day many of the Indians became ill, and the next day eight men died. Abroad in the country, wheresoever this became known, there was such dread that it seemed as if the inhabitants would die of fear at sight of us. They besought us not to remain angered, nor require that more of them should die. They believed we caused their death by only willing it, when in truth it gave us so much pain that it could be greater; for, beyond their loss, we feared they might all die, or abandon us of fright, and that other people thenceforward would do the same, seeing what had come of these. We prayed to God, our Lord, to relieve them; and from that time the sick began to get better.

We witnessed one thing with great admiration, that the parents, brothers, and wives of those who died had great sympathy for them in their suffering: but when dead they showed no feeling, neither did they weep nor speak among themselves, make any signs, nor dare approach the bodies until we commanded these to be taken to burial.

While we were among these people, which was more than fifteen days, we saw no one speak to another, nor did we see an infant smile: the only one that cried they took off to a distance, and with the sharp teeth of a rat they scratched it from the shoulders down nearly to the end of the legs. Seeing this cruelty, and offended at it, I asked why they did so: they said for chastisement, because the child had wept in my presence.

As the sun went down, upon some plains that lie between chains of very great mountains, we found a people who for the third part of the year eat nothing but powder of straw and, that being the season when we passed, we also had to eat of it, until reaching permanent habitations, where was abundance of maize brought together. They gave us large quantity in grain and flour, pumpkins, beans, and shawls of cotton. With all these we loaded our guides, who went back the happiest creatures on heart. We gave thanks to God, our Lord, for having brought us where we had found so much food...

Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca was the treasurer in the expedition of Pánfilo de Narvaez. Marked by failure, many of the men in the party fell victims to the savages or to disease and starvation. Some were enslaved by the Indians. A. Nuñez Cabera the Vaca was held six years among the Mariames, finally escaping with two companions, Castillo and Dorantes, and a negro slave Estevan. After spending eight months with a tribe further inland, they pushed on, northward and westward, surmounting incredible hardships, finally coming upon some Spanish explorers on the river Petatlan, and on the 1st of April 1536, reaching the town of San Miguel in Sinaloa, in the northwestern part of Mexico.

Other authors who made an impact in the Literature of Conquest are:

Bernal D’az del Castillo:

Verdadera Historia de la conquista de la Nueva España Common soldier, he participated in different battles against the natives.

Garcilaso de la Vega:

Los comentarios reales que tratan del origen de las Indias

He was of Inca origin. The son of an Inca Princess and a Spanish conquistador, he reminisces about his past.

Alonso de Ercilla y Zuniga:

La Araucana

This work was written on scraps of paper and bark. He was a young captain and courtier writing about the war against the Araucanians of Chile.

Dominican Diego de Ojeda:

La Cristiada

This book is about the conquest of Lima and Peru.

Bonito Teixeira Pinto:

Prosopopea He is the first Brazilian born writer to write a book after the conquest of his land. Dominican Friar Bartolomé de las Casas: Brev’sima relación de la destrución de las Indias Gaspar Perez de Villagra:

Conquista de Nuevo Mexico

Literature of Rebellion

It is not possible to introduce this particular genre without first introducing some of the French philosophers who influenced so much their time: Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau.

Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet)

He wrote poems, tragedies, philosophical treatises. He also wrote an enormous quantity of letters to kings, princes and famous persons dealing with tolerance, justice and freedom of speech.

Montesquieu (Charles de Secondat)

Extremely interested in social issues and abuses of his century, he wrote the Esprit des lois where he examines and compares the laws of the different countries. This book is written to make people aware of what political freedom is.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

He is the last of the great writers during this particular time to influence the thinking of men. His main objective was to reform Education. “Emile is a book describing the love for the family and nature. However he wants also to reform the governments, giving full power to the people. This idea will be the force behind the French Revolution. This spark would spread all around the world in the oppressed countries

Among the important writers belonging to the Literature of Rebellion in the Latin countries, one name stands above all: Simón Bol’var

Simón Bol’var

Born from a wealthy family, soldier and statesman, he was given the title of Libertador. He was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1783 and died in the republic of Colombia in 1830.

The letters and proclamations present the clearest picture of the conditions of the Spanish colonies at the time of the revolutions. His plans of government were far in advance of his time. While he was violently criticized during his life and after his death, Bolivar is recognized as one of the world geniuses of the revolutionary era of the late XVIIIth and early XIXth century.

The following letter shows very clearly his opinion on the relationship between Spain and the Latin countries:

...If it is justice which decides the lot of man, success will crown our efforts, because the destiny of America has been irrevocably fixed, the bond which united her to Spain has been severed. Its only strength was opinion: a state of mind, by which the carts of that immense monarchy were closely bound together. What formerly joined, now divides them. Greater is the hatred inspired in us by the Peninsula than the sea which separates us from it. Less difficult is it to unite the two continents then reconcile the spirits of the two countries. The habit of obediences; a community of interests, of enlightenment, of religions; a mutual good will; a tender solicitude for the cradle and glory of our forebears, in fine, everything which made up our inspiration came to us from Spain. From this sprang a feeling of loyalty well-nigh eternal, even when sympathy, this forced attachment induced by dominating rule, had been weakened by the misconduct of our overlords. At the present time the opposite is true-death, dishonor, everything evil threatens us and is feared by us; we suffer everything from that unnatural stepmother. The veil has been rent asunder; we have seen the light, but our return to utter darkness is sought; the chains have been broken, we have been free, and our enemies attempt to again enslave us. Hence America is struggling desperately, and seldom it is that desperation has not brought victory in its wake.

Because success has been partial and variable we must not distrust fortune. In some places the independents triumph, while in others tyrants obtain the advantage. And what is the final result? It is not the entire New World aroused and armed for its defense? Let us look about, and we shall observe a simultaneous struggle going on throughout the whole extent of this hemisphere...

While the Spanish literature had influencem France, giving them hope of a new future and a new beginning.

France took advantage of the situation and whether by exploration or by political maneuvers, some possessions became wrench conquests.


Called Quisquieya or Haiti by the Indians (Arawaks), this island was discovered on December 6,1492 by Columbus. Landing at Mole St. Nicolas on the western tip, he called it Española. By the end of the XVIth century most of the Indians had been exterminated either through the hardship of slavery or in battle.

French buccaneers from Tortuga Island gained permanent control and later Port de Paix (1697) recognized the French possession of the western third, which France named Saint Domingue.

The prosperity of the colony was due to the Negro slave labor which the Spanish and later the French brought in from Africa.

The slogan of the French Revolution “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” precipitated the revolution against the French oppression and exploitation.

On August 14,1791 the slaves launched an insurrection and on February 4, 1794 France was forced to declare the emancipation of the island (independence for the entire island was however reached on October 1804).

The Independence of Haiti is linked directly to a former slave who fought and died for it.

Pierre Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture

Born in Santo Domingo, where he was a slave, Toussaint Breda was freed by his master when he was 35.

From the beginning this ex-slave had a certain magnetism which drew people toward him. He was free, which gave him prestige and he had some education, that made him different. He believed in religion and the human mind, which made him special. Toussaint was also knowledgeable in the secrets of the plants, that made him feared and the belief that his father had been a Chief inspired respect.

The island at the XVIIth and the XVIIIth century had a population of about 1,500,000 Africans to work on the sugar plantations.

Toussaint L’Ouverture was nominated commandant in chief and took power over the island. He was however arrested and brought to France. From his confinement he wrote a letter to Napoleon Bonaparte “ ... from the greatest of the blacks to the greatest of the whites...” stating that he did not deserve the cruel punishment. His letter remained unanswered.

Wendell Phillips in his “Eulogy of Toussaint Louverture” bestows his tribute to him:

...Some dout your courage. Go to Hayte and stand on the graves of fifty thousand of the best soldiers France ever had, and then ask them what they think of the Negro sword...

Without the action of this courageous man undoubtedly Haiti would have still remained a territory of France or Spain or maybe another country; maybe its independence would have come but certainly it would have taken much longer. In any case, the critical situation on the island and the war in Europe led Bonaparte to sell Louisiana on April 30,1803.

The Louisiana Purchase

The Mississippi was discovered in 1510 but, since the Spanish did not find any gold or silver mines, no colonies were formed near or on it. So when, in 1682, Rene Robert Cavalier claimed it for the King Louis IV and called the region Louisiana, there was no opposition from Spain.

In November 3,1762 with the secret treaty of Fontainebleau, Louisiana was passed to Spain provoking the discontent of settlers who tried to rebel unsuccessfully. In 1800, Napoleon coerced Spain into giving Louisiana back and then in turn he sold it to the U.S.


Explored by Jacques Cartier who went as far as the Lachine Rapids in 1534.

During the next sixty years the fisheries and the fur trade received some attention, but no colonization was effected.

Samuel de Champlain worked from 1608-1635 to develop Canada as a French colony establishing the settlement of Québec.

Although Canada was later taken over by the English, the French settlers were able to keep their language and traditions in spite of the different pressures.

Literary movements in Canada

Canadian Literature was conditioned by the isolation of the colony from the motherland. This isolation increased when two events took place: the British conquest and the French Revolution. The Canadians realized then that only by holding onto their past, traditions and language could they survive.

Independent Canadian-French culture did not begin officially until 1845.

The discoveries of the past and a new found nationalism are expressed in the works of FranCois X. Garneau and Octave Crémazie

FranCois X. Garneau

Born in Quebec June 15,1809, he has been credited with recovering the French past for his countrymen.

The desire to know more about it or rather to rediscover the past history of Canada is expressed in his book Histoire du Canada, where an account on the French rule is given:

. . . It was no longer safe for the colonists to go about their affairs without carrying arms for self protection. Often, inhabitants had to entrench themselves in their dwellings, or abandon them. This state of things lasted for several years. The population perceptibly diminished, through the number of individuals who were exposed to be taken unawares, and killed or captured: and hand-to-hand fights between small parties of the colonists and squads of hovering savages took place, at times, every day: and, occasionally, several times in the same day. Certainly upon such occasions, the French usually gained the mastery; but the match was not equal, for the loss of one colonist was not to be compensated by the death of any number of Indians.

The Iroquois usually came in bands, the individuals composing which scattered themselves about the diversified part of the country more especially. Every rock, tree, or bush, each hillock or ditch, served them as a lurking place to take aim at the colonists when engaged in tillage or planting...

Octave Crémazie

Born April 16, 1827 in Quebec, to a family originally from the Languedoc.

He was completely devoted to literature. His beginning is quite simple. Being the owner of the Librarie Crémazie with his two brothers, he had the opportunity to entertain his customers with readings from different authors. The Librairie Crémazie becomes therefore not only a business; center but also a cultural center as well. Octave Crémazie had an immense impact on the French-Canadian poetry. He was declared National Poet an 1858 and some of his poems are still very famous today. His most important creations are: Le drapeau de Carillon, les Morts, le Canada, FFte Nationale.

FFte Nationale

Jour de saint Jean-Baptiste, ™ fFte glorieuse

Tu portes avec toi la trace radieuse

De nos vieux souvenirs francais;

Rappelant ˆ nos coeurs les vertús de nos pEres,

Tu montres, rayonnant de feux et de lumiEres,

Leur gloire et leur noble bienfaits.

Douce et fra”che oasis, par le Seigneur donnée,

Tu vois les Canadiens revenir chaque année,

Ë l’ombre de tes verts rameaux,

S’abreuver ˆ long traits ˆ ta source cherie,

En chantant á la fois l’hymne de la patrie

Et les grands noms de ses heros.

Il est sur le sol d’Amérique

Un doux pays aimé des cieux,

Ou la nature magnifique

Prodigue ses dons merveilleux

Ce sol, fecondé par la France

Qui regna sur ses bords fleuris,

C’est notre amour, notre esperance

Canadiens, c’est notre pays.

Pour conserver cet heritage

Que nous ont legué nos aieux,

Malgré les vents, malgré l’orage,

Soyons toujous unis comme eux.

Marchons sur leur brillante trace,

De leurs versus suivons la loi,

Ne souffrons pas que rien efface

Et notre langue et notre foi...

Lesson Plans

These lesson plans include discussions and a class project.


1. The trip to the “Indies”. Why was Columbus looking for the “wrong country?”. What was the purpose of the trip? What were the results of his discovery?
2. The exploration of the American Continent by the French. Why did France participate in the exploration? How far did the French push their penetration?
3. You are the Captain of your ship and you must prepare for a long journey. What do you collect and carry on board for the trip?
4. What tasks must be performed in order to have a successful sailing? What are the difficulties that a sailor may encounter aboard the ship during sailing?
5. You have finished all your chores and now you have some free time, how are you going to entertain yourself? (remember no radio or T.V. they have not been invented and of course there is no electricity).

Class Project

The teacher will need a newspaper, some magazine, drawing paper and crayons and some pictures of Columbus, Queen Isabella & Fernando, etc.

This particular section is geared towards creative writing and sketching.

Taking the idea of the Discovery of America and being the editor of a newspaper on the Continent during the XVth century, the teacher will divide the students into columnists, artists, etc. The newspaper and the magazines will be used as examples for headings or titles. The teacher will write on the blackboard some of the events that took place during that particular century and the student will choose the particular activity.

Here is a list of topics that could be used:

Life on board

Columbus and his landing

The Discovery of America

The sailors

The slaves

Christopher Columbus

The cost of the trip

Queen Isabella and Ferdinando

Revenues from the trip

The ships

Amerigo Vespucci

The Indians

Examples of Headings:

BARCELONA, April 14,1493

Admiral Christopher Columbus returned victoriously today after his great enterprise. Their Highness King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain received the great navigator with the crew....

Voyage Cost Low

Financial experts are glad to report that the cost of the trip was far below the figures expected.

It also appears that in the future another expedition will be granted and that it will be even more profitable.

Comics can also be added to give a pleasant note to the page.

Here you can find an example made impromptu by a M. S. student after viewing a title about the Discovery.

(figure available in print form)

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Teachers’ Bibliography

Lavisse, Ernest, Histoire de France; Librairie Armand Colin, Paris,1924.

Anglade Jean & Cahrbaneau, Rigaut de Barbezieux Ed. Monpellier, 1919.

Columbus,Christopher, Letter to Gabriel Sanchez, Boston, Directors of the Old South Work, 1896 (old south leaflets No. 33 ).

Nuñez, Alvar Cabeza de Vaca, Journey to New Mexico; Boston, Directors of the Sold South Work, 1896 (old south leaflets No 39).

Cortés, Hernan, Account of the City of Mexico; Boston, Directors of the Old South Work, 1896 (old south leaflets No. 35 ). Translated by George Folsom.

Bailey, B,F. Christopher Columbus: Sailor and Dreamer Ed. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boson 1960.

Prescott, William H. : History of Conquest of Mexico and History of the Conquest of Peru. Ed. Modern Library Inc. New York 1936.

Pan American Patriots No 2: Bol’var the Prophet ; Ed. Pan American Union, Washington D.C. 1983.

Sherwell, Guillermo A.: Simón Bol’var El Libertador. Es. Venezuelan Govenment in Washington 1921.

Wesley-Smith: Toussaint L’Ouverture “The greatest of the blaks” printed by Hunt & Eaton in 1893.

Nemous, Alfred: Histoire de la captivité et de la mort de Toussaint Louverture; Paris, Berger-Levrault, 1929.

Bell, Andrew: History of Canada from the time of its discovery till the Union year (1840-1) translated from F.X.Garmeau. Ed. John Lovell 1860.

Robidoux, Jean & Wyczynski, Paul: Crémazie et Nelligan; Ed. Fides 1981.

Institut Canadian de Quebec: Oeuvres completes d’Octave Crémazie; Ed. Montreal, Bauchemin & Valois, 1882.

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Student Bibliography

Fenner, Phillis: Stories of the sea; Published by A. Knopf Inc. New York 1953.

A collection of stories of pirates and treasure for students who love adventures.

Hartman, Gertrude : Medieval Days and Ways; Copyright G. Hartman, 1937 McMillan Co.

A book about life during the Middle Ages and the important discoveries that took place.

Hannum, Alberta F.; Spin a Silver Dollars, Viking Press Inc. 1945.

It is the story of an Indian trading post with beautiful illustrations by the main character: a Navaho boy.

Lanston, Hughes: The first book of the Indies; publish. Franklin Watts, Inc., New York, 1956.

It introduces the students to the geograry and people of these islands.

Hancock, Ralph: Latin American Heroes; Little Wander Book 604. Charles Merrill Co., 1946. Aff. with Am. Ed. Press.

The author tells the interesting biographies of Latin-American Heroes.

Madame Calderon de la Barca: Life in Mexico; Publish. E.P.Dutton & Co., Inc., New York 1946.

It is the detailed account of Mexico in the 1830’s by an English woman, the wife of a Spaniard, who traveled through the country at that time.

Fent Ross, Patricia: In Mexico they say; Copyright A, Knopf Inc., 1942.

Stories and Myths developed in Mexico.

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