Challenges in France, 1616-19

Champlain returned to France in the fall of 1616, during a period of great civil unrest in the country. At this time, the Prince de Condé, viceroy of New France, was jailed by Queen Regent Marie de Medici and replaced by Pons de Lauzière, Marquis de Thémines de Cardillac, marshal of France, resulting in an uncertain future for the struggling colony. For a brief period, Champlain himself was replaced as lieutenant of New France but was reinstated early in 1617.

During this period, Champlain increased his efforts to build support for his vision of New France, both at the French court and among his investors, who believed that permanent settlement in the colony was a drain on their profits. As King Louis XIII assumed power in France, marking an end to the regency of Marie de Medici and the renewal of a more expansive foreign policy, Champlain seized the opportunity to convince the king of the great economic and religious potential of New France.

In 1617, Champlain returned briefly to New France and brought with him the first French family to settle permanently in the colony: the Héberts. Champlain helped the Hébert family acquire land and establish a farm. Their continued presence in the colony proved important to the arguments he had made back in France in favour of permanent settlement.

Throughout 1618, Champlain continued to work to convince King Louis XIII and investors of New France’s economic potential. He argued that great wealth could be realized through the abundant natural resources and from the collection of customs duties once the supposed route to Asia was opened past Quebec. He also advocated the development of rural and urban settlements, the establishment of key elements of European civil society and the religious conversion of Aboriginal people to Christianity.

In March 1618, King Louis XIII signed a letter that officially recognized the authority of Champlain in New France and, in December, his investors agreed to support 80 additional emigrants to Quebec. In 1619, Champlain published another volume of his Voyages, which covered the period between 1615 and 1618 and further promoted his vision for New France.

In the meantime, the Prince de Condé was released from prison and regained the office of viceroy of New France in 1619. He then sold it in 1620 to Henri II, Duc de Montmorency, who in March of that year appointed Champlain as his lieutenant for New France and commandant in Quebec.