The age of discovery has given the world many legends, explorers who changed the perception and understanding of the world in Europe and in a way redrew the map. Jacques Cartier was one such explorer, who perhaps did not have accomplishments as prized as that of Vasco da Gama, Christopher Columbus or John Cabot but his explorations were valuable nonetheless. Here are some Jacques Cartier major accomplishments that have had the most impact.
1. The 1st French Explorer to the New World
The British and the Portuguese were undisputed leaders in the age of discovery. The Spanish and Italians too embarked on their own missions. Later, it would be the Spanish and the British that would fight for superiority throughout the western hemisphere. The Dutch and the French had robust naval presence but they were slow to respond to the rapid explorations being undertaken by their fellow Europeans. By the time King Francis I commissioned Jacques Cartier to explore the New World; many other explorers had already sailed across the Atlantic. All of them wanted a quicker route to Asia and eventually the Orient but none of them succeeded since they were all sailing in the wrong direction. Jacques Cartier sailed across the Atlantic knowing that it was not a route to India or China but to the New World. He was the first French explorer to travel to the New World.
2. Exploring Brazil
Dozens of voyages were embarked upon by Europeans through the fifteenth and sixteenth century. By the time Cartier became a skilled navigator, much about the coasts of the Americas was already documented. He knew the new land was not India and that a shorter route was a distant possibility or perhaps not a possibility at all. His exploration to Brazil allowed him to gain the experience and also the favor of the King to embark on multiple voyages to the north.
3. Exploration of St. Lawrence River
One of the most noteworthy Jacques Cartier major accomplishments is his exploration of the St. Lawrence River. What would be known as Canada much later, the massive northern expanse of the continent was not explored previously. Many explorers had landed at the east coast around Newfoundland and even down south but not many ventured further inward sailing on the rivers. Jacques Cartier was particularly told by the King to look for riches. From gold to spices, the primary focus of the French exploration was not to find quicker routes or find new trading hotspots but to find riches that they could capitalize. That is what Jacques Cartier tried to accomplish.
4. Precursor to French Colonization of Canada
Jacques Cartier made three voyages to Canada. His first was the exploration of the St Lawrence River when he explored Newfoundland, got to Prince Edward Island and then he explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In a way, he founded Canada for the French. His second voyage was longer, he had more provisions including ships and manpower and that took him up to Quebec where he established the first French base. His return trip took him to present day Montreal before he sailed back to France. The two voyages lead Cartier to believe that there were potential riches further inland and that there could be a river route to Asia farther west. Unfortunately for him and the French, both presumptions were found to be absolutely inaccurate.
By the time Cartier embarked on the third voyage, he had started believing himself that finding a river route or any kind of passage to Asia was not possible. He succeeded at establishing a French settlement along the St. Lawrence River. Later, French colonists would take the same route and establish their presence along the way. Cartier did not assist in the colonization of Canada. Instead, he fled to France where he lost the King’s favor. However, he had paved the way for French colonies across Canada and he also lead to the founding of the country along with its naming.
5. Cartier Legacy
Cartier did not have astounding accomplishments. The Jacques Cartier major accomplishments are not as significant as many other explorers of the time but there are two significant fallouts. Cartier got France into the game of exploration. France was embroiled in wars with the Romans and the British. The then King was obsessed with riches, which would also further his interests in the wars. By shifting focus to exploration, Cartier did form a legacy of his own, which would later help France to expand and establish its presence, not just in the North Americas but also down south and on many small islands in the Atlantic. The same presence across the Atlantic gave France a strategic advantage in many wars over the centuries, from the tussle between the Americans and the British to the World Wars and others.