Louis de Buade

Louis de Buade


Louis de Buade, comte de Frontenac et de Pallau was born at Saint-Germain, France, in 1622. He was the only son of an ancient and noble family and King Louis XIII was his godfather. He inherited the title of count of Frontenac, and was known by this traditional name.

Frontenac served in the French army during the Thirty Years’ War, and by the time he was 26 he had been promoted to brigadier general. He fared less well during peacetime, being frequently involved in civil disputes. In a determined effort to escape his creditors, he served in a Franco-Venetian campaign against the Turks on Crete from 1669 to 1670, but he was dismissed after a quarrel with his superiors.

King Louis XIV named Frontenac governor of French Canada in 1672. This was indeed fortunate for him, because the job granted him temporary immunity from his creditors.

Frontenac arrived at Quebec the same year and soon instituted a policy of expansion. He had a fort built near the mouth of Lake Ontario; the fort was later named for him. He also encouraged the travels and explorations of Robert Cavelier de la Salle (see no. 53).

While governor, Frontenac tangled with the Sovereign Council and the Jesuits, both of which pushed for his replacement. In 1682, he was recalled by King Louis XIV and returned to France. Back in his native country, Frontenac was again besieged by creditors. His life was miserable until 1689, when the start of King William’s War between France and England created the need for a military man in Quebec. He went to Canada as governor once again.

During the winter of 1689-1690, Frontenac sent out three war parties composed of French-Canadians and their Abenaki Indian allies. The parties carried out successful raids against villages in New York and New England, but they also provoked retribution. The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony sent 2,200 men in 33 ships to attack Quebec.

Frontenac, who had been in Montreal, reached Quebec just days before the Puritan fleet. The English sent a messenger ashore to demand the surrender of the town. The messenger was blindfolded and led to the Chateau St. Louis where he was received by Frontenac and his military aides. After hearing that the English demanded a surrender within one hour’s time, Frontenac answered: “Tell your general that my only reply will be from the barrels of my muskets and the mouths of my cannons!”

The Puritan siege of Quebec was a failure. The English sailed away and New France rejoiced. Frontenac died at Quebec in 1698, one year after the Treaty of Ryswick brought peace between England and France.