This week in Canadian History – December Week 3


Louis XIV in 1685, the year he revoked the Edi...

While the habitants of early Canada were said to be better than they would have been had they remained as peasants in France, their lives were nevertheless very restricted.

Louis XIV liked to have a good time but he did not extend that privilege any further than the nobility of France. Louis was a very heavy eater, beginning dinner with at least three different soups, then several kinds of fish, meat dishes, poultry, and usually finishing with pastries and fruits. When dinner was over, he would become melancholy, and is said that this is when he would concoct further plans to order the lives of his people in Canada.

Clearing the new land was one of the biggest problems; so Louis ordered habitants to stay in the country and not move into towns. A farmer was not allowed to own more than two horses because he might neglect to raise cattle and sheep. Bakers were ordered to make brown bread although few people enjoyed eating it. Louis, who did not eat brown bread himself, said it was more nutritious. People were not allowed to sit on benches in front of their homes after nine o’clock at night. Merchants could not hold meetings to discuss business matters. Women had to be home by nine o’clock. Unmarried girls were allowed to dance only with other girls, in their own homes, with their mothers present.

Men were not allowed to use profanity. There were fines for the first four offences. If they were caught swearing five times, they were sent to the pillory (a wooden framework with holes for the head and hands in which an offender was exposed to public abuse). Their lips were branded for a sixth offence, and their tongues were cut out if they were caught eight times.

On December 16, 1663, a law passed to reduce profiteering on goods imported from France. Merchants were permitted to mark up goods as high as 65 per cent after paying 10 per cent duty. When ships arrived at Quebec, members of the Sovereign Council would go on board, inspect the goods for quality, and set the prices at which they must be sold. As in the case of the King’s Daughters, the people of Quebec had a big advantage over those in Trois Rivieres and Montreal because they had the first choice of imported products.

To learn more about today’s post, I suggest the Yale University for their document “THE HISTORICAL ORIGINS OF THE SANCTION OF IMPRISONMENT FOR SERIOUS CRIME”. Then there is Inspire, Educate, Connect. Another well written document can be found at Wiley Online Library.


  1. I’m sorry I’ve been so MIA. I’ve been a little overwhelmed.
    You can tell how a society is by the way the laws have changed (i.e., the public profanity law). Many would be pilloried!


  2. HISS!!! KING LOUIS WHAT’S-HIS-NAME MAKES ME WANNA DELIVER A HAIRBALL!! WHAT KIND OF KING FEASTS like he did and treats his people so badly at the same time!!?

    And who the heck dressed that guy? DUDE!



  3. Wow! Harsh punishments for swearing! I guess Louis XIV thought he had to exert a great deal of control to keep his citizens in line – they faced the challenge settling so far from home – having a potty mouth seems like an innocent little sin!



  4. It would have been something to see Louis XIV walk in that ensemble! (I envision a crash on his face, or not being able to stand up. He must have had servants assisting him, in the manner of a modern bride, by holding his garb up so the Sun King could move using his two feet.)


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