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Possession and Dispossession in Corporate New France, 1600–1663: Debunking a “Juridical History” and Revisiting Terra Nullius

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 February 2014


Following Jacques Cartier's voyages up and down the St. Lawrence River in 1534, 1535–36 and 1541–42, French interest in the region surged. This interest was confined to the region's potential deposits of minerals, and then diverted realistically to the trade of furs, before ultimately, during the seventeenth century, it diversified to take into account the prospect of agricultural smallholding. So confined, this interest did not account for customary tenure and systems of property relations among indigenous inhabitants; generally these were matters avoided by merchants, traders, missionaries, and early settlers until the expediencies of settlement on the ground required otherwise. These were matters for which, in New France, the companies in charge devised no coherent policy. These were matters for which, at home, the French Crown was no beacon of advice either, meting out meager and inconsistent policies of empire before 1663, preferring instead to endorse trade monopolies while preparing for disputes with neighboring nations with competing designs to the New World.

Copyright © the American Society for Legal History, Inc. 2014 

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1. Banner, Stuart, “Why Terra Nullius? Anthropology and Property Law in Early Australia,” Law and History Review 23 (2005): 95131CrossRefGoogle Scholar, quote at 95.

2. Reynolds, Henry, The Law of the Land (Ringwood: Penguin, 1987)Google Scholar; and Banner, Stuart, Possessing the Pacific: Land, Settlers, and Indigenous People from Australia to Alaska (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2007)Google Scholar.

3. Benton, Lauren and Straumann, Benjamin, “Acquiring Empire by Law: From Roman Doctrine to Early Modern European Practice,” Law and History Review 28 (2010): 138CrossRefGoogle Scholar, quote at 2.

4. For this debate, see Reynolds, Law of the Land; Attwood, Bain, “The Law of the Land or the Law of the Land? History, Law and Narrative in a Settler Society,” History Compass 2 (2004): 130CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Connor, Michael, The Invention of Terra Nullius: Historical and Legal Fictions on the Foundation of Australia (Paddington: Macleay Press, 2005)Google Scholar; and Fitzmaurice, Andrew, “The Genealogy of Terra Nullius,” Australian Historical Studies 38 (2005): 115CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5. The most concerted attempt to purchase land by an individual settler (on behalf of the Port Phillip Association) was promptly admonished by the Sydney administration. See Attwood, Bain, Possession: Batman's Treaty and the Matter of History (Carlton: Miegunyah Press, 2009)Google Scholar.

6. Banner, “Why Terra Nullius,” 131. The point here is to encourage a greater awareness of the means by which terra nullius is historicised. Take Canada, for example: despite the often massive lengths of time between original seizures of territory on the one hand, and extinguishing treaty programs on the other (properly underway in the 1870s and carrying up to the present day), few historians or lawyers are prepared to consider that part or all of Canada was ever terra nullius. For another example, the Cape Province of South Africa: even though aboriginal title, with the exception of Table Bay, was not extinguished in the lead-up to drastic regime changes in 1795, 1961, and 1994, few in the post-apartheid era are prepared to consider it terra nullius. From the opposite point of view, it would be remarkable to consider Australia a place where Aborigines have enjoyed cognizable ownership rights from “time immemorial” in light of the Mabo decision, handed down 200 years after convicts first disembarked the First Fleet.

7. Greer, Allan, “Dispossession in a Commercial Idiom: From Indian Deeds to Land Cession Treaties,” in Contested Spaces of Early America, eds. Barr, Juliana and Countryman, Edward (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014 [forthcoming])Google Scholar.

8. Greer, Allan, “Commons and Enclosure in the Colonization of North America,” American Historical Review 117 (2012): 365–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar, quote at 365.

9. Dewar, Helen, “Souveraineté dans les Colonies, Souveraineté en Métropole: Le Role de la Nouvelle–France dans la Consolidation de l'Autorité Maritime en France, 1620–1628,” Revue d'Histoire de l'Amérique Française 64, 3–4 (2011): 63–92.Google Scholar

10. In Canada, as in other settler societies where a similar claims-based indigenous rights jurisprudence has emerged, public interest litigation of the 1960s and 1970s inspired what some refer to as “juridical history.” For further reflection on this development, see McHugh, Paul G., “The Common-Law Status of Colonies and Aboriginal “Rights”: How Lawyers and Historians Treat the Past,” Saskatchewan Law Review 61 (1998): 393429Google Scholar; Hunter, Ian, “Natural Law, Historiography, and Aboriginal Sovereignty,” Legal History 11 (2007): 137–67Google Scholar.

11. The rights to seabeds and airspaces, and likewise the privilege of Arctic ownership, continue to puzzle legal thinkers. For an introduction to some of these debates, see Benton, Lauren, A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400–1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)Google Scholar; Banner, Stuart, Who Owns the Sky? The Struggle to Control Airspace from the Wright Brothers On (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Beyers, Michael, Who Owns the Arctic? Understanding Sovereignty Disputes in the North (Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 2009)Google Scholar.

12. Benton, A Search for Sovereignty. In this argument about jurisdiction across “irregular zones,” law itself is determined as much by geography as it is by cultures and conflict; sovereignty did not just emanate from metropolitan imperial powerhouses during this period, but rather it was “layered” across contested mountains, valleys, rivers, and seabeds. This kind of interpretation encourages a new skepticism toward defining sovereignty institutionally (i.e., state/non-state) and ethnocentrically (i.e., European/non-European), not just geopolitically. However, see Thomson, Janice E., Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994)Google Scholar, which addresses similar concerns, but maintains a strict state/non-state division throughout.

13. Stern, Philip J., The Company-State: Corporate Sovereignty and the Early Modern Foundations of the British Empire in India (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. As for the Atlantic companies, “they came from the same stock; they were corporate bodies politic, founded in charters, letters, patents, and instruments of incorporation but functioning as political authorities and communities in their own right.” Stern, Philip J., “British Asia and British Atlantic: Comparisons and Connections,” William and Mary Quarterly 63 (2006): 702Google Scholar. See also Cavanagh, Edward, “A Company with Sovereignty and Subjects of its Own? The Case of the Hudson's Bay Company, 1670–1763,” Canadian Journal of Law and Society 26 (2011): 2550CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

14. This literature is extensive. For an introduction to issues relevant to indigenous rights specifically, consult Gilbert, Jérémie, “Corporate Accountability and Indigenous Peoples: Prospects and Limitations of the US Alien Tort Claims Act,” International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 19 (2012): 2552CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hosmer, Brian C., “Indigenous Communities, Nation–States, Extranational Sovereignties and the Challenge of Environmental Justice in the Age of Globalization,” Environmental Justice 5 (2012): 264–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Sawyer, Suzana and Gomez, Edmund Terence (eds), The Politics of Resource Extraction: Indigenous Peoples, Multinational Corporations and the State (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

15. Greer, “Dispossession in a Commercial Idiom.”

16. Trigger, Bruce, The Children of Aataentsic: A History of the Huron People to 1660 (Montreal: McGill–Queen's University Press, 1988), 1:214Google Scholar.

17. Eccles, W. J., “Sovereignty–Association, 1500–1763,” Canadian Historical Review, 65 (1984): 480Google Scholar.

18. Slattery, Brian, “Understanding Aboriginal Rights,” Canadian Bar Review 66 (1987): 769Google Scholar.

19. Jaenen, Cornelius J., “French Sovereignty and Native Nationhood during the French Regime,” Native Studies Review 2 (1986): 84Google Scholar.

20. This is certainly signalled by the title of Jaenen's article (“French Sovereignty and Native Nationhood”). This inequality of interpretation also manifests in his definition of property, which relates not a “bundle of rights” but an idiosyncratic and restrictive reading of European ideas that are neither distinctly French civil nor distinctly English common (Jaenen, “French Sovereignty,” 103).

21. See also Slattery, “Understanding Aboriginal Rights,” 768–69; and Jaenen, Cornelius J., The French Relationship with the Native Peoples of New France and Acadia (Ottawa: Research Branch, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 1984)Google Scholar, esp. 41–47.

22. Thwaites, Reuben Gold, ed. The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 1610–1791, (Cleveland: Burrows Brothers, 1896–1901), 46:123Google Scholar; 47:21–25. (Hereafter: JR, with page numbers referring to originals). See also below, note 74.

23. Banner, Stuart, How the Indians Lost Their Land: Law and Power on the Frontier (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also Banner, Possessing the Pacific, comprising perhaps the best attempt to explain why specific land policies were implemented in different sites. A complementary appraisal can be found in Weaver, John C., The Great Land Rush and the Making of the Modern World, 1650–1900 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill–Queens University Press, 2003)Google Scholar.

24. Slattery, Brian, “French Claims in North America, 1500–1559,” Canadian Historical Review 59 (1978): 167CrossRefGoogle Scholar

25. Slattery, “French Claims,” 168. See also Slattery, Brian, The Land Rights of Indigenous Canadian Peoples, as Affected by the Crown's Acquisition of Their Territories (Saskatoon: University of Saskatchewan Native Law Centre, 1979), 9091Google Scholar.

26. For example, Slattery, “French Claims'; Eccles, “Sovereignty–Association,” 475 n1; Jaenen, “French Sovereignty,” 98; Barber, Lloyd I., “Indian Land Claims and Rights,” in Les Facettes de l'Identite Amerinidienne/The Patterns of Amerindian Identity, ed. Tremblay, Marc Adelard (Québec: Presses de l'Université Laval, 1975), 67Google Scholar; and Huppé, Luc, “L'Établissement de la Souveraineté Européenne au Canada,” Les Cahiers de Droit 50 (2009): 153206CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

27. For the doctrine of discovery, see Miller, Robert J., Ruru, Jacinta, Behrendt, Larissa, and Lindberg, Tracey, Discovering Indigenous Lands: The Doctrine of Discovery in the English Colonies (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For an introduction to the literature on symbolic acts of possession, compare Keller, Arthur S., Lissitzyn, Oliver J., Mann, Frederick J., Creation of Rights of Sovereignty through Symbolic Acts, 1400–1800 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1938)Google Scholar; Seed, Patricia, Ceremonies of Possession in Europe's Conquest of the New World, 1492–1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995)Google Scholar; and MacMillan, Ken, Sovereignty and Possession in the English New World: The Legal Foundations of Empire, 1576–1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)Google Scholar.

28. Slattery, Land Rights, 66–124; see below, note 40.

29. For perhaps the most persuasive argument about dispossession from the metropolitan/monarchic perspective, consult Macmillan, Sovereignty and Possession.

30. Trigger, Bruce, Natives and Newcomers: Canada's “Heroic Age” Reconsidered (Montreal and Kingston: McGill–Queens University Press, 1985)Google Scholar.

31. Biggar, Henry Percival, The Early Trading Companies of New France: A Contribution to the History of Commerce and Discovery in North America (Toronto: University of Toronto Library, 1901)Google Scholar.

32. Eccles, “Sovereignty–Association,” 479, 481.

33. For the Treaty of Tordesillas in its global context, consult Benton, Lauren, “Possessing Empire: Iberian Claims and Interpolity Law,” in Native Claims: Indigenous Law against Empire, 1500–1920, ed. Belmessous, Saliha (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 1940Google Scholar. Benton suggests that a concern with possession (as a means to securing dominium) figured prominently in Spanish and Portuguese ideologies of empire in this period. For Benton, “historians have exaggerated the idiosyncratic nature of Iberian legal rationales for the acquisition of empire as centering on arguments about papal authority, a preoccupation with rights to people, or assertions about a right to trade based on natural law” (35).

34. Henri de Montmorency bluntly justified his King's opinion to the Spanish ambassador as follows: “to uninhabited lands, although discovered, anyone may go.” Emperor to the Cardinal of Toledo (November 11–13, 1540), in A Collection of Documents Relating to Jacques Cartier and the Sieur de Roberval, ed. Biggar, Henry Percival (Ottawa: Public Archives of Canada, 1930)Google Scholar, 141.

35. Judicial thinker and diplomat Robert Beale, referring to the bulls, put it this way: “So as this donation of that which is anothers, which in right is nothing worth, and this imaginary propriety, cannot let, but that other Princes may trade in those Countries, and without breach of the Law of Nations, transport Colonies thither, where the Spaniards inhabite not, forasmuch as prescription without possession is little worth, and may also freely navigate that case Ocean, seeing the use of the Sea and Ayre is common to all. Neither can any title to the Ocean belong to any people, or private man; forasmuch as neither Nature, nor regard of the publicke use permitteth any possession thereof.” Quoted in Tuck, Richard, The Rights of War and Peace: Political Thought and the International Order (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)Google Scholar, 112.

36. Argall's crackdown on competing royal letterheads is fascinating, but dominium was not the main issue here. The key distinction to be observed here is between land and prize. Immovable land was always treated differently from booty, and sensibly too, given the different challenges in terms of logistics, value, and jurisdiction posed by each. Speaking generally, whereas pirates, like competing traders, sometimes produced letters of marque and commissions to escape prosecution for stealing reserves, razing posts, and claiming a fleet's cargo as prize, these documents empowered no privateer to claim disputed lands in the names of monarchs, or excavate great chunks of earth (and, with designs of profit in mind, it is unlikely they would be inspired to anyway). See Lauren Benton, Search for Sovereignty, 112–20; and Benton, Lauren, “Legal Spaces of Empire: Piracy and the Origins of Ocean Regionalism,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 47 (2005): 700–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

37. Macmillan, Sovereignty and Possession, 194–200.

38. For the impact of these treaties on French sovereignty in the New World, see Huppé, “L'Établissement de la Souveraineté,” 179–84.

39. Prowse, D. W., A History of Newfoundland from the English, Colonial, and Foreign Records (London and New York: Macmillan, 1895), 99100Google Scholar.

40. Contra Slattery, for whom “[t]he French Crown thus implicitly asserts title to the entire eastern sector of North America” in the 1627 charter: Slattery, Land Rights, 85–86. This would appear to contradict, if not require serious qualification as a result of, his observations regarding aboriginal title and French rule in his later article, “Understanding Aboriginal Rights,” 768–69.

41. Relevant extracts from commissions and letters patent between 1598 and 1603 are reproduced in Girard, Camil and Gagné, Édith, “Première Alliance Interculturelle: Recontre entre Montagnais et Français à Tadoussac en 1603,” Recherches Amérindiennes au Québec 25 (1995): 1011Google Scholar. For the Compagnie de la Nouvelle–France charter of April 29, 1627, consult Edits, Ordonnances Royaux, Declarations et Arrêts du Conseil d'État du Roi Concernant le Canada (Québec: E. R. Fréchette, 1854): 511Google Scholar.

42. Biggar, Early Trading Companies, 43–4.

43. de Champlain, Samuel, Oeuvres de Champlain, 2nd ed., ed. Laverdière, C.-H (Québec: Imprimé au Séminaire, 1870), 2:71Google Scholar. Anadabijou had learned this about the French King from discussions with his representatives whom François Gravé du Pont had earlier sent to Paris. See Elsie McLeod Jury, “Anadabijou,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, (May 21, 2013).

44. Girard and Gagné, “Première Alliance Interculturelle,” 3.

45. Trudel, Marcel, The Beginnings of New France, 1524–1663, trans. Claxton, Patricia (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1973), 76Google Scholar; and Trudel, Marcel, Histoire de la Nouvelle–France: Les Vaines Tentatives, 1524–1603 (Montreal: Fides, 1963), 268Google Scholar.

46. Dickason, Olive, Canada's First Nations (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992)Google Scholar, 103.

47. Eccles, “Sovereignty–Association,” 480; Lajoie, Andrée and Verville, Pierre, “Les Traités d'Alliance entre les Français et Les Premières Nations sous le Régime Français,” in Lajoie, Andrée, Brisson, Jean-Maurice, Normand, Sylvio, and Bissonnette, Alain, eds. Le Statut Juridique des Peuples Autochtones au Québec et le Pluralisme (Québec: Les Editions Yvon Blais Inc., 1996)Google Scholar, 161. For these authors, “the French” sought to acquire, in this alliance, the permission to construct an establishment at Tadoussac in 1603,” a strategy that would eventually extend “to Québec in 1608.”

48. Eccles, “Sovereignty–Association,” 480.

49. John Locke, The Second Treatise of Civil Government, ch. 5, sect. 27; and Weaver, Great Land Rush, esp. 46–48, 81–87, 216–26, 348–60.

50. Trudel, Beginnings of New France, 164.

51. Trigger, Children of Aataentsic, 1:286.

52. Davenport, Francis Gardiner, ed. European Treaties Bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies, (Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution, 1917–37), 1:315–23Google Scholar. See for context, Biggar, Early Trading Companies, 148–66. For the initial grant of Port Royal to Poutrincourt in 1604, see Trudel, Beginning of New France, 85.

53. European Treaties Bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies 2:132–42. See, for context, Slattery, Land Rights, 126–32.

54. As the seventeenth century became the eighteenth, England and France tussled among themselves and both sought to bolster their claims, to the detriment of Algonquian and Iroquoian communities. England had been experimenting with this method since the early seventeenth century, as Ken MacMillan has shown, and by the mid-eighteenth, she had just started to perfect it. France emulated. As Jaenen notes, formal claims to land in New France during the period of royal government “appear to have been directed more at European competitors than at Amerindians who were theoretically becoming French subjects.” Such was the state of play in Québec after the period of company rule and during the period of royal administration from 1663 to 1759. Jaenen, “French Sovereignty,” 96; and MacMillan, Sovereignty and Possession.

55. Rose, Carol M., “Economic Claims and the Challenges of New Property,” in Property in Question: Value Transformation in the Global Economy, ed. Verdery, Katherine and Humphrey, Caroline (Oxford: Berg, 2004)Google Scholar, 279.

56. Trigger, Children of Aatentsic, vol. 1, chapter 5.

57. Biggar, Early Trading Companies, 90–100; Trigger, Children of Aatentsic, 1: 296–305.

58. Oeuvres de Champlain, 5:1064.

59. Biggar, Early Trading Companies, 129.

60. Trigger, Natives and Newcomers, 276–81.

61. Hunt, George T., The Wars of the Iroquois: A Study in Intertribal Relations (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1972 [1940]), 2337Google Scholar, 66–86. See also Jennings, Francis, The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire: The Covenant Chain Confederation of Indian Tribes with English Colonies from its Beginnings to the Lancaster Treaty of 1744 (New York: Norton, 1984)Google Scholar; Trigger, Natives and Newcomers; Richter, Daniel K., The Ordeal of the Longhouse: The Peoples of the Iroquois League in the Era of European Colonization (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992)Google Scholar; and Brandão, José António, “Your Fyre Shall Burn No More”: Iroquois Policy Toward New France and Its Native Allies to 1701 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997)Google Scholar.

62. de Saint–Père, Rameau, Une Colonie Féodale en Amérique L'Acadie (1604–1881) (Montréal: Granger Frères, 1889)Google Scholar, 1:51; and Trudel, Beginnings of New France, 85.

63. Oeuvres de Champlain, 5:729–30.

64. Biggar, Early Trading Companies, 105; and Trigger, Natives and Newcomers, 324.

65. Harris, Richard Colebrook, The Seigneurial System in Early Canada: A Geographical Study (Kingston and Montreal: McGill–Queens University Press, 1984), 2025Google Scholar.

66. These Iroquois were mostly identified as Mohawks, although sometimes Oneida and Onondaga. Perhaps it is worth speculating whether or not these “raiders” had old links to Stadacona and Hochelaga.

67. JR, 29:47–60, 31:56–144.

68. Perrot, Nicholas, Memoire sur les Moeurs, Coustumes et Relligion des Sauvages de l'Amerique Septentrionale, ed. Tailhan, R. J. (Leipzig and Paris: Librairie A. Franck, 1864), 9495Google Scholar. There is some doubt about the nomenclature of Perrot's account, who suggests the priest was Father Allemand and that the chief in question went by the name of “La Borgne.” Trigger, rather, suggests the chief was Tessouat, and both he and Eccles suggest the priest was Father Ragueneau and not Allemand. See Trigger, Children of Aataentsic, 2:785; and Eccles, “Sovereignty–Association,” 499, n108.

69. JR, 6: 35–43.

70. Lettres Patentes qui Confirment la Concession de Sillery aux Savages,” in Les Jésuites et la Nouvelle–France aux XVIIe Siècle, d'Apres Beaucoup de Documents Inédits, ed. de Rochemonteix, Le Camille (Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1895)Google Scholar, 1:467, 468–69. See also Gérin, Léon, “La Seigneurie de Sillery et les Hurons de Lorette,” Des Memoires de la Societe Royale du Canada 6, 1 (2nd series, 1900): 8384Google Scholar.

71. Stanley, George F. G., “The First Indian “Reserves” in Canada,” Revue d'Histoire de l'Amérique Française 4 (1950): 185CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For Stanley, French Canada was settled like terra nullius: “At no time was there any recognition on the part of the French crown of any aboriginal proprietary rights in the soil. The French settler occupied his lands in Canada without any thought of compensating the native. There were no formal surrenders from the Indians, no negotiations, and no treaties such as marked the Indian policy of the British period” (209).

72. Stanley, “First Indian ‘Reserves’,” 184.

73. Dechêne, Louise, Habitants and Merchants in Seventeenth–Century Montreal (Montreal and Kingston: McGill–Queen's University Press, 1992 [1974 ])Google Scholar, 11.

74. Between 1642 and 1653, the Society de Notre–Dame spent a fortune on indentured laborers to clear the land, which brought it close to bankruptcy. According to Trudel, however, the initial failure of this church establishment is attributable to two factors: “the instability of the backers of this new enterprise, and the incursions of the Iroquois” (190). Only from the late 1650s did private interests emerge, slowly instigating its transformation into a site of settlement and merchant capital. But this was before a violent Iroquois attack on habitants in 1661, in which “even the women fought to the death” against their indigenous enemies. Trudel, Beginnings of New France, 188–89. The best study of seventeenth century Montreal, however, remains Dechêne, Habitants and Merchants.

75. See map at Harris, Cole, The Reluctant Land: Society, Space, and Environment in Canada before Confederation (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009)Google Scholar, 94.

76. The Royal Proclamation of 1763, and associated instructions issued to Governor Murray, have been identified as a source of aboriginal title Québec; for some, these offer proof that indigenous communities retained sovereignty over and title to the whole region, and that their independence remained strong enough to endure well into the nineteenth century. See, for example, Jaenen, “French Sovereignty,” 105; Eccles, “Sovereignty–Association,” 505–6, 510; Morin, Michel, L'usurpation de la Souveraineté Autochtone: Le Cas de Peuples de la Nouvelle–France et des Colonies Anglaises de l'Amerique du Nord (Montreal: Boreal, 1997), esp. 61, 138–39Google Scholar; and Slattery, Brian, “The Hidden Constitution: Aboriginal Rights in Canada,” American Journal of Comparative Law 32 (1984): 370CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 373. For an overview of “juridical history” interpretations of the “Murray Document,” see Vaugeois, Denis, The Last French and Indian War: An Inquiry into a Safe–Conduct Issued in 1760 that Acquired the Value of a Treaty in 1990, trans. Roth, Kathe (Kingston and Montréal: McGill–Queens University Press, 2002), 127–69Google Scholar; and Beaulieu, Alain, “‘An Equitable Right to be Compensated’: The Dispossession of the Aboriginal Peoples of Québec and the Emergence of a New Legal Rationale (1760–1860),” Canadian Historical Review 94 (2013): 211CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The quoted phrase comes from Calloway, Colin G., The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)Google Scholar.

77. Beaulieu, “An Equitable Right to be Compensated,” 27.

78. This may partially explain why it has taken so long for the historiography of New France to shake off the inaccuracies of the “juridical history” school: placid Franco–Aboriginal encounters suit conventional narratives of “la thèse décapitation” (the decapitation thesis). This thesis first breathed life with the nineteenth century claim that the removal of organic ruling classes, and their replacement with a foreign and more powerful bourgeoisie, subordinated French society within a regime not of its own making. It would be developed in the 1950s by historians such as Guy Frégault, Michel Brunet and Maurice Séguin, with important precursors in Francis Xavier–Garneau and Abbé Lionel–Groulx. As an idea, it has influenced the studies of subjects as diverse as women's history (e.g., Noël, Jan, “New France: Les Femmes Favorisées,” Atlantis 6 [1981]: 8098Google Scholar) and demographic and emigration history (e.g. Choquette, Leslie, Frenchmen into Peasants: Tradition and Modernity in the Peopling of French Canada [Boston: Harvard University Press, 1997]Google Scholar). Aboriginal history has not escaped: the decision, in 2004, to restrict the Chaire de Recherche du Canada sur la Question Territoriale Autochtone at Berri–UQAM to the period following 1759 represents perhaps the most stunning example of this. See their web site, (February 1, 2013).

79. See above, footnote 76.

80. See, especially, White, Richard, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815 (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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