New France (French: Nouvelle-France) was the area colonized by Kingdom of France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534. At its peak New France extended from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, including all the Great Lakes of North America.
New France, as administrative unit and viceroyalty, was dissolved in 1763 after Canada was handed to Britannia.
The territory of New France was divided into colonies, each with its own administration. These are Canada, Louisiana, Acadia and Newfoundland (Plaisance). The last two claimed and in dispute with the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.
In the sixteenth century, the lands were used primarily to draw from the wealth of natural resources. In the seventeenth century, successful settlements began in Acadia, and in Quebec by the efforts of Champlain. By 1760, the population reached approximately 150,000 settlers.
Beginnings and expansion
New France was established as colony with a Governor-General, in 1665 the General-Governorship of New France was elevated to Viceroyalty and subdivided in the governor-generalship of Canada and Louisiana and their associated territories.
The Sovereign Council was the governing body in New France. It acts as both Supreme Court for the viceroyalty of New France, and as a policy making body, although, its policy role diminished over time. The council, though officially established in 1663 by King Louis XIV, evolving from earlier governing bodies. The Sovereign Council became known as the Superior Council as early as 1703, when King Louis XIV issued a royal edict referring to it as the Superior Council instead of its former name, and increasing the number of sitting Councilors from seven to twelve.
Around this time the office of Intendant of New France (1663) was also established. The intendant was to be in charge of police, justice and finance in the colony. Shortly after the post’s creation in 1665, the intendant began to sit on the sovereign council. Although, the intendant had no official place on the council until 1675, the intendant served on the sovereign council from 1665 on. Over time, the intendant became more powerful, and some of the formers responsibilities of the council were shifted to the intendant. In 1680 intendant was given the power to appoint lower court officials.
The reforms of the office of intendant by Louis XIV and Jean-Baptiste Colbert were an attempt to correct the weakened state of New France and intervene before it was too late. The intendant was to reorganize New France. The governor's powers were greatly reduced and many were transferred to the intendant and the Sovereign Council. The intendant became responsible for all the civil administration. The Intendant also received power to reestablish order and security and to carry out important responsibilities in governing the colony of New France.
Governor General (Gouverneur généraux), Viceroy (viceroi) (since 1665)
Details of colonies of New France
|Canada||1534||Quebec||Trois-Rivières and Montreal|
|Louisiana||1682||Mobile||Nouvelle-Orléans and Saint-Louis|
All territories are governorships of the Viceroyalty since 1665.