Charles de La Tour

Charles de La Tour

(1593-1666)

One of the most colorful colonial leaders, Charles Saint-Etienne de La Tour was born in Champagne, France. His father, Claude de Saint-Etienne de La Tour brought him from France to Acadia (modern-day Nova Scotia) in 1610.

The La Tours built up Port Royal (modern-day Annapolis Royal) but the English buccaneer Samuel Argall looted the town in 1613. Undeterred, the La Tours rebuilt. When Charles de Biencourt, leader of the settlement died in 1623, he named Charles La Tour as his heir.

Charles then built Fort Lomeron at Cape de Sable. In 1627, England and France went to war and suddenly all the French possessions in the New World were at risk. When Charles’ father Claude was captured by the English while at sea, he pledged himself to the English cause and sailed against the very fort his son had built. Charles fought off the attack by his father’s troops and held Fort Lomeron.

When the war ended, King Louis XIII made Isaac de Razilly governor of all of Acadia. De Razilly in turn named Charles La Tour and Charles de Menou d’Aulnay as his top lieutenants—La Tour to be given the territory east of the St. Croix River, and d’Aulnay the portion west of it. La Tour and d’Aulnay—both ambitious, energetic, and competitive—were soon at odds.

From 1647 until 1657 the two men fought an on-again, off-again war. While La Tour held the fort, his courageous wife Francoise-Marie Jacquelin went to France in 1642. She won the court over to her husband’s cause and returned with supply ships. Finding La Tour blockaded at Fort Sainte-Marie by d’Aulnay’s ships, she and her husband asked help from the Puritans in Boston; with their assistance, they were able to break the blockade.

Since La Tour had won his assistance from English colonists, D’Aulnay won favor in France and was given command of Acadia. He captured La Tour’s fort in 1646; Madame La Tour was killed in the fighting. Only after d’Aulnay died in 1650, was La Tour able to reestablish himself in the good graces of the French court.

La Tour brought new colonists to Acadia in 1653. Determined to put the past behind him, he courted and then married Jeanne Motin, d’Aulnay’s widow!In 1654, after English Major Robert Sedgwick captured Saint-Marie and La Tour was taken as a prisoner to England.

He remained there until 1656, when he accepted English conditions for his return. La Tour was to act as an agent for the English government, and in return, he would be allowed to assume his old estates in Acadia. La Tour then went into retirement at Cape de Sable.