Second Voyage by the Commander on Behalf of the Very Pious King Francis, by Jacques Cartier, in the Year Fifteen Hundred and Thirty-six


During his first voyage to the New World, in 1534, Jacques Cartier explored the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and made contact with the Iroquois. Thanks to their accounts of a fabulously rich Kingdom of Saguenay, a second voyage was rapidly decided upon. Cartier’s second voyage to New France (present-day Canada), in 1535‒36, resulted in the discovery of the Saint Lawrence River, the most important route into the interior of the continent. This discovery for a long time would raise hopes of a passage to China. Cartier ascended the river as far as Hochelaga, the future site of the city of Montreal. Presented here is Cartier’s account of his voyage, the original of which is preserved in the National Library of France. It provides numerous geographic details that continued to be reported on maps for another 50 years. It also contains the first precise observations by a European about the native peoples, flora, and fauna of Canada. The full title, written on the first page of the manuscript, reads: “Second Voyage by the Commander on Behalf of the Very Pious King Francis I, by Jacques Cartier, in the Year Fifteen Hundred Thirty-six, which concluded with the discovery of the western lands under the climate and parallels of the lands and kingdoms of the King, a discovery which had already been initiated. This voyage was made in the year fifteen hundred and thirty-six by Jacques Cartier, pilot-captain of the King, who was born in Saint Malo de l’Isle, Brittany.” The first words of the manuscript are an address “to the very pious king.” The document concludes with a short glossary entitled “Hereby is the language of the lands and kingdoms of Hochelaga and Canada, also known as New France,” which gives Indian words for numbers, parts of the body, and various other items.

Last updated: November 20, 2015