Why it had already started badly

A final Friday article for the year 2022 as an epic tale of exploration, conquest and science. Which has gone slightly wrong, to the point that, four centuries later, people are still dying from it by the millions.

To the New World

Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon

In 1494, the Treaty of Tortesillas was signed between Spain and Portugal, which treaty was duly dubbed by Pope Alexander VI Borgia, who made a bull of it. The terms of the treaty are simple: an imaginary line is drawn on the map of the New World discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, what is on one side is Spain, what is on the other is Portugal .

Suffice to say that the rest of the world, namely England and France, does not appreciate. And also set out to conquer the New World, bubble or no bubble. The Pope, we’ll manage, as for the others… Well, we’ll make war on them, as usual.

In 1555, Henri II, King of France, decreed that a colony should be established in Brazil. The kingdom has some difficulties further north, in Canada, and it might not be so bad, Her Majesty thought, not to put all her eggs in one basket.

It is an ambitious young man, Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon, who is in charge of this mission. Young, but already experienced: it was he who exfiltrated Queen Marie Stuart to bring her back to France, under the nose and beard of the English navy, reputed to be the most powerful in the world. He therefore embarks for France Antarctica, namely Brazil, since the other Antarctica, namely Antarctica, has not yet been discovered.

Guanabara Bay

Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon therefore sets out with two ships carrying six hundred men. A few soldiers, priests, scholars, and the bulk of the troops, composed of poor people who had the choice between leaving or dying of hunger, and convicts, who were given the choice between execution or exile . What could go wrong?

After three months of crossing, the team reached the bay of Guanabara, in Brazil, and founded a colony called Fort Coligny, in reference to the king’s adviser who had organized the expedition.

And everything works perfectly. The colonists sympathized with the natives present in the region, and amorous bonds were formed between the French and the Indians of the tribe of Cumhambebe, the local chief.

Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon sees that everything is going well, and writes to Coligny, asking him to send more settlers. And preferably Protestants, because Villegagnon converted before he left. He sees Fort Coligny as a religious utopia where everyone would live in peace.

Map of France Antarctica

Except that the message takes three months to reach France, and the settlers another three months to arrive. And on the spot, the atmosphere has changed. Villegagnon suddenly decided that Protestantism was ultimately evil, became Catholic again and called on everyone to convert. The Protestants of the expedition, led by the pastors, refused, and took control of the second city which had just been created. The tensions are strong, and it is the moment that many scholars choose to return to France.

Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon was called back to Paris to report on the stampede in 1560, while the Portuguese decided to enforce the royal bull and stormed the French colony. Along the way, they receive reinforcements from the natives, who have turned against the French after half of their people died from diseases imported by the settlers.

Okay, but how does this story fit into the Vaping Post ? Well, among the scientists who took part in the expedition, there is a certain André Thevet, a geographer. Who writes a book about the expedition, and brings back some memories. Including the seeds of a plant which, after a few adventures, will be planted in the gardens of the French Embassy in Portugal by a certain Jean Nicot.

Yes: the history of tobacco had already started badly.


“Atlas of ephemeral territories” by Benoist Simmat (a perfect gift to offer or to offer yourself, by the way)

“Red Brazil” Jean Christophe Rufin (Goncourt Prize 2001)

June 7, 1494. Division of the world in Tordesillas on Herodotus.net

“Chronology of the Popes” by Jean Mathieu Rosay

We want to say thanks to the author of this short article for this outstanding material

Why it had already started badly

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