Jacques Cartier (Dictionary of World Biography: Renaissance)
Article abstract: Cartier explored the St. Lawrence River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, claiming the area for France, and wrote a detailed account of his travels.
Jacques Cartier was probably born in 1491 in St. Malo, France, but the date is uncertain and could be some time between 1490 and 1494. Nothing is known about his early years, although it is likely that he sailed to the waters near Newfoundland on fishing trips. His only known early voyage was in a Portuguese ship that crossed the South Atlantic to Brazil.
In 1519, Cartier married Marie Catherine, the daughter of Messire Honoré des Granches, chevalier and constable of St. Malo. Stocky, with a sharp profile and high, wide brow, Cartier dressed as a hardworking man in an unpretentious cloak and tunic. He was religious but strong-spirited and showed himself to be capable, courageous, and fair to his crew. His methodical nature was shown by the detailed journals he kept daily on his voyages.
Intrigued by the stories of earlier explorers, King Francis I commissioned Cartier to sail to Newfoundland to look for gold and to search for a waterway through the New World to India. On April 20, 1534, Cartier left St. Malo with two small caravels, not weighing more than sixty tons each.
The ships sighted Newfoundland within twenty days but, because of the bad weather, took shelter in a harbor...
(The entire section is 1800 words.)
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