Posts Tagged ‘French and Indian War’

Rent a Baron…or Me

Posted in General on May 19th, 2008 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

George Savarin de Marestan (Monsieur le Baron to the obsequious) has found the French & Indian War to be profitable. (Louis XV should have been so lucky.) The Baron has been engaged to participate in all the major reenactments of the 250th anniversary of that 18th century war. Fort William Henry surrendered to him last year. He will win the battle of Fort Carillon (alias Ticonderoga) this summer. Next year, he is going to lose Quebec. In other words, he is impersonating the Marquis de Montcalm.

How did he earn this unique niche? In exactly the same way he became a baron, Monsieur de Marestan was born to the role. He happens to be the great, great, great, great, great, etc. nephew of General Montcalm. I can not vouch whether he is the most talented member of the Montcalm clan or just the most shameless. However, he does seem to be the only one in the Montcalm market. The general had ten children–and some of them must have survived 18th century medicine as well as the French Revolution.

For the reenactment of the battle of Quebec, a great, great, great, etc. nephew of General Wolfe also has been engaged. However distant a nephew, that may be the best that the historical societies could do. James Wolfe had no direct descendants, not for lack of trying, but women kept turning down his marriage proposals. For the victor of Quebec, a date with destiny was easier than a date with women.

I wonder if there are similar reenactments for the 250th anniversary of the Seven Years War. (The American war was just a sideshow for the main event. Did you really think that Frederick the Great was losing sleep over Fort William Henry?) Any number of unemployed princes could be invited to impersonate their ancestors. For an extra Euro, a Hapsburg, Bourbon or Romanov will sign your copy of “The Last of the Mohicans.” The descendants of George II are still employed; so they will either sign it for free or have you arrested.

By the way, if you know of any 70th anniversary commemorations for the film Ninotchka, I am a fourth cousin, twice removed, of Melvyn Douglas–and I am available.

How France Lost Canada

Posted in General on October 18th, 2006 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

I know how eager you are to learn more details about the Huguenots and French colonial policies. How can I refuse you….

Protestants were prohibited in the French colonies. In fact, it seems that no one was allowed in New France. France and England began colonizing North America at the same time, in the early 1600s. One hundred fifty years later, at the start of the French & Indian War, New France encompassed most of Canada, from the Atlantic to west of Lake Superior, as well as the Ohio Valley and the Mississippi Valley down to the Gulf of Mexico. The total population was approximately 100,000. By contrast the British colonies, wedged between the Atlantic and Appalachian Mountains, had a population of 2.5 million.

Britain had allowed anyone to migrate: paupers, minor criminals, superfluous sons and religious loonies. By contrast, France had a suffocatingly restrictive immigration policy. No one could just book a ticket to Quebec or New Orleans. The royal adminstrators had to approve of each and every applicant. If Quebec did not need an extra baker that year–or decade– that baker was staying in France. There was a shortage of women in the French colonies, and few female applicants. To alleviate this situation, the French government did ship arrested prostitutes to New France.

The sparse population of New France was a strategic disadvantage against the teeming populace of the British colonies. However, it did make many of the native American tribes more inclined to ally with France. Consider the tribes’ choice: put yourself in their place. On one side, there are 2.5 million British colonists who want to steal your land and kill you. On the other side, there are 100,000 French who only complain about your eating buffalo with white wine.