Québec

The 4th Fort St. Louis and 2nd Château St. Louis

During the First Intercolonial War, Frontenac Rebuilt the Fourth Fort St. Louis and Second Château St. Louis

(1689 to 1700)

The year 1689 marked the beginning of the first Intercolonial War (also known as the first French and Indian War in the United States), which would end in 1697. Opposing New France as a colony of France and the British colonies of North America, the ultimate aim of this Intercolonial War and of the three other Intercolonial Wars that would follow (up to 1760) was the domination of the northeastern part of North America, which would allow the exploitation of its vast resources. Those four Intercolonial Wars would have a very profound influence on the evolution of Québec City's Fortified Wall.

1689 — During his second tour of office as Governor of New France, from 1689 to his death in 1698, Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac, defeated the British in a major confrontation involving the Fortified Wall and also made major changes to that Fortified Wall, building a fourth Fort St. Louis in 1693 and a second Château St. Louis in 1694.

1689 — In the context of the first Intercolonial War, Frontenac led raids (or "guerrilla expeditions") against British frontier posts, just like the British did themselves against French frontier posts. The situation was therefore ripe for a major British counterattack. Frontenac was fully aware of that possibility. And it would come in 1690.

1690 — A fleet was assembled by leaders of two British colonies and was put under the command of Sir William Phips with the purpose of seizing Port Royal, the key French post in Acadia (today's Nova Scotia). They succeeded in doing that on May 21, 1690.

1690 — Encouraged by that success, those British leaders then decided to attempt a major strike against the capital of New France, Québec City. They assembled an even more imposing fleet of 34 ships transporting 2,300 militiamen and 50 Amerindians. Those ships sailed up the St. Lawrence River and anchored in Québec City's harbor on October 16, 1690. But Frontenac was ready for them, having quickly constructed a special enclosure made of 11 small stone redoubts (or towers) connected by a wooden stockade (or wooden palisades) for the occasion, and counting on a force of about 3,000 men.

1690 — Frontenac's military preparations were well advised for the French. On October 17, 1690, the day after he arrived, British Admiral Phips dispatched an envoy to meet with Frontenac. That envoy was led blindfolded through the streets of Québec City and past jeering crowds, a French tactic that served to exaggerate the number of people inside the Fortified Wall. The British envoy delivered to Frontenac a summons to surrender. Frontenac simply gave him this famous message: "No! I have no reply for your general, but by the mouths of my cannons and guns!" And he kept his word.


In this painting, we can see Frontenac (dressed in blue), the Governor of New France, receiving on October 17, 1690, the envoy of Sir William Phips (dressed in red) who was demanding the immediate surrender of Québec City. Frontenac's historic reply was simply: "No! I have no reply for your general, but by the mouths of my cannons and guns!"
Image Credit and Source: Library and Archives Canada / Access number 1972-26-780 / Reproduction reference number C-073710 / Painting by Charles William Jefferys, 1869-1951 / Entitled "Frontenac receiving the envoy of Sir William Phips demanding the surrender of Québec, 1690" / Watercolor over pencil on commercial board.

1690 — The following British siege of Québec City lasted only a few days. Québec City's Fortified Wall went through its second big test, the Battle of Québec. The lack of coordination between naval and land forces was disastrous for the British. Frontenac, an experienced colonial fighter, proved a much better military tactician than his opponent. Québec City's cannons, as predicted by Frontenac, caused heavy damages to Admiral Phips' warships and forced him to retreat. The harsh climate also proved to be a factor, as the late-fall arrival and cold weather caused major problems for the British and advantaged the French. The victory was complete for the French: they ended up with only nine men dead and 52 wounded while the British suffered the loss of 150 men to death and 150 men to wounds. On their way back home, 500 more British men died of sickness and shipwreck on the St. Lawrence River.


As we can see in this image, Frontenac's cannons were in favorable position to inflict heavy damages to Admiral Phips' 34 warships, which would eventually lead to their retreat and a French victory at the Battle of Québec, in 1690.
Image Credit: National Archives of Canada / Reproduction reference number C-6022.
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Quebecbatteries.jpg

1691 — The French recaptured Port Royal, in Acadia (today's Nova Scotia).

1691 — This year marked the beginning of the gates as sections of the Fortified Wall, with Du Palais Gate being the first one built. The particular structure of that gate in the Côte du Palais would last until 1720.

1692 — After the siege of Québec City in 1690, Frontenac had a battery of 17 cannons installed south of the first Château St. Louis. He also ordered the reconstruction of Fort St. Louis, making use of fortification principles perfected by French military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban in the 17th Century, under the reign of King Louis XIV in France. Frontenac was aiming at a line of defense capable of resisting a European-style siege and France, the mother country of New France, was willing to invest in such a defensive system for Québec City, taking into account the experience of the siege of 1690.

1693 — The new fort, the fourth Fort St. Louis, was built during the summer and almost quadrupled in size, compared to the third Fort St. Louis. It was the direct "ancestor" of today's west side of the Fortified Wall and of the 18th Century Citadel … because a lot of importance was given to the west side of Québec City at that time, to the only sections of the Fortified Wall that were not naturally reinforced by a long steep slope of high cliffs. It was a classical rampart made of earth and able to absorb the impact of enemy artillery fire, held in place entirely by a wooden wall. Two masonry works completed the enclosure and a redoubt (or tower) also was built on top of Cap Diamant.

1693 — St. Louis Gate was built and would last until 1720, when it would be restored.

1693 — St. John Gate was built and would last until 1720, when it would be demolished and rebuilt.

1694 — Governor Frontenac also had made plans for a new Château St. Louis that would be more suitable to the Governor's functions and to receive the King of France if he chose to visit the New France colony. The first Château St. Louis was demolished and the second Château St. Louis was built during this year. Like the first Château St. Louis, it was a stone building, but 118 feet (36 meters) long with two levels, compared to the 86 feet (26.2 meters) long and single-level first Château St. Louis. It had a central hall and two wings, one at each extremity, covered with a slate roof, compared to the shingle roof of the first Château St. Louis.

1696 — The second series of Franco-Iroquois Wars, that had begun in 1684 and would last until 1701, really calmed down during and after this year.

1697 — The Treaty of Ryswick in Europe marked the end of the first Intercolonial War. But the peace between the French and the British in North America would not last long.

1698 — Frontenac passed away. He was still Governor of New France when that happened.


This is what Québec City looked like in 1700. The two levels of the second Château St. Louis (under the capitalized letter "A"), the enlarged fourth Fort St. Louis (close to the capitalized letter "A") and the redoubt (or tower) on top of Cap Diamant (at the top-left of the image, under the capitalized letter "I") are all clearly visible on this illustration.
Image Credit: The original uploader was AdBo at it.wikipedia on January 8, 2009 / The permission to reuse this file is CC-BY-SA-1.0 / The description is "View of Québec in 1700".
Image Source: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a2/Quebec_nouvelle_france.jpg