François Ravaillac, assassin of King Henry IV, brandishing his dagger, in a 17th-century engraving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On this blog so far, several stories have described the terrible tortures and massacres inflicted by the Indians. An impression might be given that Indian torture and cruelty was unique, but this was far from being the case. So-called civilized people could be just as barbarous.
WARNING: The following is a graphic story of torture. If you don’t want to read about the gore, I very highly suggest you don’t read the following paragraph!
On May 14, 1610, King Henry IV of France was assassinated by François Ravaillac, a religious fanatic. Ravaillac was put in prison, tortured by red-hot pincers, and had his leg crushed. While thousands of people, including princes and leaders of France, lined the streets or watched from windows, Ravaillac was drawn from the prison in a scavenger’s cart and taken to the Place de Grève. Boiling lead was poured into his wounds, and then his body was torn apart by four white horses pulling in opposite directions. The people in the crowd scrambled to pick up pieces of his flesh. The house where he was born was burned to the ground, and his mother and father were exiled from France.
Champlain was in Paris at the time and was glad that the Indians had not seen what had happened. He had often told them that the French killed, yes, but did not torture their enemies.
Henry IV’s death was a serious loss to Champlain. He had made Champlain a royal geographer, and granted trading monopolies to Chauvin, Chaste, and de Monts. Just before he was assassinated, Champlain had given him a belt of porcupine quills, the head of a garfish, and two little birds, scarlet tanagers. The King was greatly pleased, and listened to Champlain’s stories about Canada. Now no one in authority in France took any interest in Canada and the fur trade had got out of control. Unauthorized traders rushed to Canada and obtained furs by plying the Indians with brandy. The situation became so bad that some of the Indian chiefs prohibited their braves from taking their furs to the French.
Champlain had to find someone to take control in France, and finally persuaded Charles de Bourbon, a prince who ranked next to the king. He was already governor of Normandy and Dauphine from which he drew substantial revenue, but he agreed to become lieutenant-general for the king in Canada, provided that he was paid a salary, plus a share of the profits from the fur trade. It was a hard bargain, but Champlain was pleased because the prince made him a lieutenant of France. This position gave him authority to control the traders on the St. Lawrence River. Champlain was told to make Quebec his capital.
Do you still want to read more about this? Well, I suggest clicking your way to Versailles and More blog; http://josfamilyhistory.com/ has a great article; and G.W. Leibniz also has a great article; The Telegraph from the UK has a news story about finding the King’s remains; then there’s Cool Stuff in Paris shows what you would see as a tourist at the spot where the assassination took place!