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Creditors Muddle Affairs After D'Aulnay's Death

Even though the Acadian colony began to make great strides under the Sieur d'Aulnay's administration, it had not gone so far that he was able to satisfy his debts to creditors in France who had helped finance his settlement plans. One of the largest of those creditors was Emmanuel LeBorgne, a merchant from La Rochelle. As soon as he heard of d'Aulnay's death, he demanded that his loan be repaid in full by the estate, a total of 260,000 pounds.

D'Aulnay's aged father, Rene Menou de Charnisy, who lived in Paris, made an attempt to settle the estate, but couldn't. In 1651, LeBorgne sent a ship manned by what historian Charles Mahaffie calls "a gang of mercenaries" to seize the fort at Port Royal and to strip it of everything they could.

LeBorgne thought that his money and his muscle would make him master of Acadia. But he forgot about another old Acadian, Charles de La Tour.

La Tour had been holed up in Quebec ever since d'Aulnay destroyed his fort, but now he saw a chance to reclaim leadership in Acadia. He sailed to France in February 1651, and using the La Tour charm that stood him in good stead in the past, somehow managed not only to have himself exonerated of charges of piracy and of "all crimes of rebellion," but to have himself named governor of Acadia by King Louis XIV.

La Tour enlisted the aid of Philippe Mius d'Entremont, a gentleman from the Cherbourg region, hired his own band of mercenaries, and sailed for Acadia. When he reached Port Royal, he presented his credentials to d'Aulnay's widow, Jeanne Motin, and demanded that he be given back his old fort at Jemseg. He sent d'Entremont to Cape Sable, to start rebuilding the old La Tour fiefdom there.

LeBorgne did not give up. He made a second raid on Port Royal to make off with more goods and to establish his claim to the fort.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Denys, whom d'Aulnay forced from Acadia right after coming to power, also made claims on the d'Aulnay estate. He returned to settle at St. Peter's at Cape Breton Island, claiming that the land was owed him because d'Aulnay had unlawfully taken his earlier claim.

But the smooth-talking La Tour was not yet through with his own bold moves. On February 24, 1653, he married Jeanne Motin, Madame d'Aulnay, the widow of the man who had ruined him and banished him from the land for piracy. La Tour was 60. Jeanne Motin was in her 30s.

The muddle continues. According to Mahaffie, "Soon after (La Tour's wedding) LeBorgne himself showed up. La Tour, who had an uncanny ability to be elsewhere when misfortune came to his wives, was at...St. John. Jeanne Motin (at Port Royal) was defenseless, and LeBorgne put her in prison. Then his men raided the settlement at La Have and...Denys's post at St. Peter's....Indomitable, (Denys) got free and made his way to France, where at the end of 1653, the Company of New France awarded him the coast and islands of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from Canso to the Gasp'e Peninsula.

"Mercifully," Mahaffie continues, "Denys' grant was the last of the inconsistent and ill-considered French concessions of property and government in Acadia. With LeBorgne at Port Royal facing down d'Aulnay's rightful heirs, with Denys at St. Peter's claiming ownership of everything above the Strait of Canso, and with La Tour thumbing his nose at everyone from Saint John, the situation in 1654 was so muddled as to seem beyond repair. Suddenly, however, the Puritans intervened, and the French imbroglio was moot."