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New France

England looks to the West (second half of the 16th century)

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L’Amérique du Nord coloniale
XVIème-XVIIIème siècles

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Home The Map as History > The Cold War and Confrontation between East and West 1947-1991

Colonies in North America

16th-18th centuries

Four European nations participated, with varying results in the colonisation of North America: Spain, France, Great Britain and Holland.
In the second half of the 18th century, the British had obtained control over the most territory on the American East Coast, but they had to face rising discontent from the 13 colonies.
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Map travels of Jacques Cartier in Canada 1534,  1535 and 1541

Travels of Jacques Cartier in Canada

In April 1534, Jacques Cartier left Saint Malo and sailed westwards. King François I of France had given him a commission to find a northern maritime route providing access to China and to discover islands and countries ‘rich in gold’.


History and map of New France in Canada

New France

In the early 17th century, France founded its first settlements in the St Lawrence Valley and Arcadia.  150 years later, Nouvelle France covered a substantial area between the estuary of the St Lawrence and Mississippi estuaries and Lake Winnipeg 


 Exploration of the Mississippi by Cavelier de la Salle, Marquette and Jolliet

Exploration of the Mississippi and the establishment of Louisiana

European exploration of the Mississippi River began with the travels of Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet in 1673.

In 1682 René-Robert Cavelier de la Salle reached the river’s delta and took possession of the regions he had crossed in the name of the French King: Illinois and Louisiana.


Map New France territory Saint Lawrence Valley, Louisiana and Illinois

New France: Settlement of the territory

European settlements in Nouvelle-France: Limits on the regions around the St Lawrence Valley, Ile Royale and New Orleans.

Areas on the outer edges of these settlements saw an increase in their population due to the growing presence of trappers and a lucrative trade in furs.


Map New France territory Saint Lawrence Valley, Louisiana and Illinois

England looks to the West (second half of the 16th century)

In the second half of the 16th century, England resolutely turned its
attention to the West and launched several initiatives in North America : the search for the North-West Passage, settlement on Newfoundland, creation of a colony at Roanoke, later to be known as the 'lost'  colony. This colony failed but was followed by later English settlements in America


Map New France territory Saint Lawrence Valley, Louisiana and Illinois

Virginia, the cradle of the United States

In 1606, King James I issued a Colonization Charter for two limited liability companies: the London Company and the Plymouth Company.
The first three ships chartered by the London Company left the English coast at the end of 1606 with about 100 men on board and sailed to Chesapeake Bay.


Map New France territory Saint Lawrence Valley, Louisiana and Illinois

Foundation of the 13 American colonies

In the decades that followed the establishment of the colony of Virginia, England sent settlers to sites all along the American coast between New France, to the North, and Spanish-controlled Florida, to the South. The first settlers were mostly people who left Europe because of religious discrimination.



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