Search Website Design and Content © by Eric Krause, Krause House Info-Research Solutions (© 1996)
      All Images © Parks Canada Except Where Noted Otherwise
Report/Rapport © Parks Canada / Parcs Canada  --- Report Assembly/Rapport de l'assemblée © Krause House Info-Research Solutions

Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada





Report H E 15

Fortress of Louisbourg



After the governor, the senior military officer in a Place de Guerre was the lieutenant de roi. His duties, as outlined in the commission he received from the king, were identical to those of his superior, the only difference being that he was to perform them "in the absence or under the authority of the governor". The commission was given for a specified period of time, renewable upon expiration. Usually these commissions were to run for three years, but De Pensens' commission as lieutenant de roi of Ile St. Jean was for five years. [1]

Besides his salary of 1,800 livres and any extraordinary gratuities which might be granted, the lieutenant de roi was also entitled to all the grass from the covered way and the enclosed works (i.e. demi-lunes), to all the fish in the ditches of enclosed works, to one-quarter of the profits of canteens, to one-fifteenth of the sales of the spoils of war, and to have a sentry posted at the door of his residence . [2] In 1727 Maurepas, the Minister of the Marine, ordered that the lieutenant de roi in Louisbourg be given the customary share of the canteen profits rather than have it all go to the major as St. Ovide had suggested. [3] As there was no regular gratuity attached to the post, the lieutenant de roi frequently encountered considerable expense, particularly during a governor's extended absence, which his salary was not sufficient to cover. [4]

Between 1714 and 1718 there were two lieutenants de roi in Ile Royale. Jacques L'Hermitte, who was responsible for the fortifications in the new colony, was given the title of lieutenant de roi to compensate him for his work as an engineer. The latter position did not exist as yet in the colony, and without his new title L'Hermitte would not have been paid for his work on the defences. St. Ovide was already a lieutenant de roi in the colony, commanding at Louisbourg. (Governor Costebelle was at the colony's capital, Port Dauphin). When L'Hermitte was transferred to Trois Rivières, his successor, Beaucours, was also named lieutenant de roi. Costebelle died in 1717 and was succeeded by St. Ovide. Beaucours stayed on as lieutenant de roi, but responsibility for the fortifications was given to a chief engineer, Verville, making a second lieutenant de roi position unnecessary.

Despite the explicit provisions made in the general ordinances of the king as to who was to command in the absence of the governor, an ordinance outlining the chain of command was sent to Louisbourg in 1722. It was to be read to the troops and registered with the Conseil Supérieur in order to eliminate potential problems. At the same time St. Ovide was instructed to leave any necessary orders with his replacement prior to his departure from the town. [6]

The lieutenant de roi was, by virtue of his rank, a member of the Conseil Supérieur. Although not usually listed as a member of the Conseil, the major appears to have served on that body for a time. In 1720 Beaucours and Bourville, who held the two posts, complained to the Minister of the Marine that they received nothing for their service on the council while De Pensens and De Goutin, the former a captain and of a company and the latter écrivain de roi, each received 300 livres. Maurepas replied that De Pensens and De Goutin were titular councillors and their appointments were personal in nature, over and above their ordinary responsibilities. Beaucours and Bourville, on the other hand, were members of the council only because of the offices they held. Therefore, since they were only doing their duty by serving on the council they could expect no additional gratuity. [7]

Ten years later Bourville, by then lieutenant de roi and serving as acting commandant, encountered another problem relating to his place on the council. It was reported to the minister that in the absence of the commissaire-ordonnateur, Bourville had taken upon himself the duties of the president of the council. While generally approving the job he was doing in St. Ovide's absence, the minister rebuked Bourville for assuming a function which rightfully belonged, in the commissaire-ordonnateur's absence, to the most senior of the titular councillors. Upon receiving Maurepas' remarks Bourville replied that he had hastened to comply. [8]

Soon after his appointment in 1725 as commandant of Ile St. Jean, De Pensens, a captain, requested that he be given the title of lieutenant de roi. Obviously viewing his transfer to the sparsely populated island as a demotion from his previous command at Port Toulouse, De Pensens wanted not only the promotion but also more troops, a chaplain and a surgeon. St. Ovide urged the minister to give him what he asked because he was the best man for the post. As one of those who had been with Costebelle when the move was made from Plaisance to Louisbourg, he was experienced in the establishment of a new settlement and had the confidence of the inhabitants. [9] The minister, however, felt that 30 men was sufficient for the island, and he feared that, besides being unnecessary in a place as unsettled as Ile St. Jean, the appointment of a lieutenant de roi might increase tension between French and English.[10]

Over the next few years De Pensens was scolded several times for not remaining at his post on Ile St. Jean, especially in light of the 800 livres gratuity he was receiving for living there. In 1730 he returned to Louisbourg to serve as major, but three years later was finally named lieutenant de roi of Ile St. Jean. He then received the captain's salary of 1,080 livres plus a gratuity of 800 livres and an additional 1,500 livres for maintaining a boat. De Pensens was instructed to remain on the island and return to Louisbourg only on matters of importance to the service. [11]

I11 health forced De Pensens to retire in 1737, and he was replaced on Ile St. Jean by Duchambon. Besides being next in terms of seniority, Duchambon was said by St. Ovide to possess complete knowledge of and friendship with the Acadians, while his wife, a native of this area, was fluent in the Micmac language. Instead of the appointement attached to a captain of a company, Duchambon received the regular salary of a lieutenant de roi (1,800 livres) as well as the 800 livres gratuity. [12] In 1738 the colony's two lieutenants de roi - the one at Louisbourg, the other on Ile St. Jean - clashed over their relative positions. Duchambon complained that Bourville, while temporarily in command at Louisbourg, had claimed to have authority over him. It was his opinion that as lieutenant de roi of Ile St. Jean, he was required to answer only to the governor of Ile Royale and the governor-general of Canada. De Forant, after his arrival in Louisbourg, reported to the minister that he had informed Duchambon that in the absence of the governor, he was subordinate to the lieutenant de roi of Ile Royale. [13] A few months later, while again serving as commander following De Forant's death, Bourville wrote that the lieutenant de roi of Ile St. Jean should be given an order to command for the colony as a whole in the event of the absence of both governor and lieutenant de roi since his commission gave him the right to command only Ile St. Jean. Unless this was done, he explained, Duchambon might find his authority challenged by those in the ordinary chain of command at Louisbourg; that is, the major and the most senior captains.[14]

A few months prior to his death in October 1744, Duquesnel was advised by the minister that when De Pensens was named lieutenant de roi of Ile St. Jean, it was hoped that creation of this rank on the island would provide a feeling of stability for the inhabitants which would serve to accelerate its progress. However, as this did not seem to be happening, the position was now considered unnecessary. Duchambon was recalled to Louisbourg to succeed the retiring Bourville, but no one was named to replace him at Ile St. Jean. [15] It was unfortunate for Duchambon that soon after assuming command in Duquesnel's death he was faced with a mutiny by the troops. And, though the minister had no intention of permitting him to remain in command for long, having appointed Chateaugué governor and De Salvert interim commander, Duchambon acquired the further unwanted distinction of being in charge when the fortress fell to the New Englanders in 1745.