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French Military Arms in the Northern Gulf of Mexico: Flintlock Fusils from the 17th-Century Wreck of La Belle

Author(s): Amy Borgens

Year: 2014

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Summary

In 1684, as part of preparations for a French expedition to the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico, King Louis XIV granted Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle 400 firearms in addition to other weapons and supplies. These arms, though important as a means of defense or food procurement, were intended for another purpose as well - a campaign to wrest regional silver mines in northern Coahuila from Spanish control. Fragmentary and complete artifacts recovered from the hull of La Salle’s vessel La Belle, which sank in Matagorda Bay in 1686, comprise at least 46 of these military arms. These weapons represent a transitional period in French military arms production and provide an opportunity to better understand French flintlocks of the late 17th-century. In concert with other military supplies, the discovery of these artifacts in the wreckage of La Belle testify both to La Salle’s ambitions to create a French foothold in the Gulf and seize Spanish resources and the ultimate failure of this enterprise.


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Cite this Record

French Military Arms in the Northern Gulf of Mexico: Flintlock Fusils from the 17th-Century Wreck of La Belle. Amy Borgens. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436994)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-45,03

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America