AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

A Globetrotter in the 17th century. The Travels of Jacques Cailhaut de La Tesserie: in service of the VOC and the royal colony of Nouvelle-France

by Thomas Kurt Meyer

Institution: Leiden University
Year: 2014
Keywords: Cosmopolitan; Identity; Self-Invention; VOC; Nouvelle-France; Knowledge Network
Record ID: 1259451
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/25847


This account details the 17th century career of Jacques Cailhaut de La Tesserie in the service of the Dutch Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie. The writer hoped to convince his reader to procure for him a position in the new Compagnie française des Indes orientales. From this account, as well as sources in the colonial archives of France, Canada and the Netherlands, a picture can be formed of de La Tesserie as an all-round colonial careerist straddling early modern boundaries. In the span of thirty years he served in such far-flung places as the jungles of Formosa, the empire of Japan, the trading hub of Batavia, the coasts of Persia and India, the Canadian Shield and the Hudson and St. Lawrence river valleys. During this time he fought the Spanish, Chinese and Iroquois, participated in trading ventures across the Chinese Sea and Indian Oceans, was an associate of a pelt-trading consortium in northern Canada and member of the highest governmental organ of French North America, even serving shortly as its governor-general. It is the aim of this paper to bring into focus which factors were present in the decision-making process of de La Tesserie, and to what extent they were significant. To answer the question posed, this work will retell the three distinct phases through which the life of de La Tesserie ran. During each of these phases he attempted to carry through, a choice which would radically alter his life. The first is de La Tesserie joining the VOC, the second is him exchanging the VOC for the colony of Nouvelle- France, and the third is his attempt to join the CFIO. Every choice has been divided into three further parts, each detailing the background in which the choice was made, which factors might have contributed to it, and how the decision eventually played out. Thus a picture is painted of how a young man from France ended up in Canada, with a detour through the Far East.