The most powerful European countries of the 16th and 17th centuries played competing roles in the colonization of North America. Spain, France, and England vied for the vast North American territories that were available for the taking, at the expense of native populations. This video examines the French settlements.
The French, like the English and Spanish, were dependent upon the friendship and alliance of the Indians. Without the help of Native Americans, they would not have succeeded in establishing homesteads in this sometimes hostile new land. French
diplomats in Europe pretended they commanded the Indians as subjects. The French in North America knew better.
The French had an extensive fur trading network established, first in what they called New France, located in the Canadian and Great Lakes region, and later in Louisiana, a vast territory that stretched from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico. Ironically, at the peak of their colonization, the French occupied the largest geographical area of North America of any European power, but they had the fewest settlers.In times of conflict with the English and Spanish, the French benefited from their friendly relationships with many of the Native American tribes. A number of educators from some of America’s finest universities share their insights about the early French settlements in North America.