Canadian Military History Gateway
Date > 1500
Subject > Politics and Society > Domestic Politics and International Relations
Unlike the Spanish Central America, Europeans were unable to successfully colonize North America in the 16th Century. Amerindian guerrilla tactics combined with a cold and hostile land to frustrate the newcomers. Nevertheless, North America became a theatre of war for European conflicts.
The Iroquois were surprised and fearful at first of Cartier's cannon, but their awe did not last very long.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert's British colony on Newfoundland failed partially because the colonists were more anxious to find silver mines than to plant crops. On 5 August 1583, Sir Humphrey claimed the island in a ceremony that involved his holding a twig of a hazel tree and a sod of earth. That winter, the explorer sailed back to England and was lost at sea when his ship sank in a storm.
Introduction by W.A.B. Douglas, Director Directorate of History, Program Chairman. Articles in a variety of languages including: English, German, French, Italian, Portugese, Spanish, Russian, Greek.
Many European expeditions were sent to explore North America during the sixteenth century. The explorers were armed, and their ocean-going ships were a revolutionary technology.
Cartier's expedition got along poorly with the Iroquois at Quebec. Discovery of what was falsely thought to be gold led to discord between Roberval and Cartier. Eventually, the fortified settlement was abandoned.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the European wars that had touched the eastern coasts of North and South America left the Pacific untroubled. From the European point of view, the region was largely unexplored, despite being bordered by Spanish colonies.
Cartier points to the arms of France on the cross during a ceremony taking possession of Canada for France. Men-at-arms were with the early explorers. Print after Louis-Charles Bombled.