franecdote 1688 : King William’s War

You might remember from this recent post that a “franecdote” is an interesting fact or story from “THAT year in French history” where “THAT year” is this year minus the number of Facebook fans je parle américain has every Thursday night.

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You might also recall that I’m in the process of publishing these little tidbits on the blog itself after having published them already on Facebook. Today’s franecdote is from last Thursday, in fact, when je parle américain had 325 Facebook fans. So …

The year 2013 — 325 fans = 1688, and the franecdote is …

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King William’s War

<cue dramatic music>

King William’s War was really the culmination of long-running tension between French and English colonists in North America over the border between New England and New France and over control of the North American fur trade. While eventually subsumed within the larger Nine Years’ War in Europe, King William’s War actually broke out a few months before the Nine Years’ War did and before William was even King of England.

A little background: In a nutshell, the Nine Years’ War erupted in Europe in the fall of 1688 between France’s King Louis XIV and a European-wide alliance arrayed against him to oppose his territorial expansion in the Rhine Valley and in the Low Countries. The alliance was known as the League of Augsburg and included Austria, Bavaria, Brandenburg, the Dutch Republic, the Holy Roman Empire, the Palatinate of the Rhine, Portugal, Savoy, Saxony, Spain, and Sweden. (France hadn’t made many friends under Louis’s reign, it seems.) All of this geo-political maneuvering coincided with the Glorious Revolution in England, in which the Catholic and pro-French King James II was overthrown and replaced on the throne by his daughter Mary and his son-in-law (who also happened to be his nephew): the VERY Protestant and, consequently, ANTI-French William, Prince of Orange and Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic. (The Glorious Revolution required a Dutch invasion of England, as a matter of fact, and eventually resulted in a French-supported invasion of Ireland the following year by the then-exiled James II. But I digress …)

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Detail of King William III and Queen Mary II of England, from the ceiling of the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, by Sir James Thornhill

So, against that elaborate European backdrop, the fur trade and border conflicts that had been simmering for years between New France and New England (and their respective Native American allies, the Wabanaki Confederacy and the Iroquois Confederacy) came to a boil. In the spring and summer of 1688, bands of New England settlers led several raids against French settlements in Acadia (now the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia). Once England joined the League of Augsburg at the end of the year, this colonial disturbance in America became a theater of the Nine Years’ War, coming to be known as King William’s War, after England’s new king.

Major Campaigns of King William's War
Major Campaigns of King William’s War

King William’s War lasted until the conclusion of the Nine Years’ War in Europe, and involved several campaigns and battles in New England, upper New York, Acadia, Quebec, and the Hudson Bay. While King William’s War ended in 1697 with a return to the pre-war status quo, renewed tensions resulted in yet another colonial war between the English and French in 1702: Queen Anne’s War, in which France lost Acadia to the British, a situation which in time would result in the Acadian exodus to other regions, including Louisiana where they eventually became known as “Cajuns.”

And there you have your “franecdote” from 325 years ago.
Want to have more franecdotes? Well, we have to have more fans!
If you like je parle américain, recruit your friends and let’s find out some other interesting fact from even longer ago!

© 2013 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

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