Daily Life in New France



Officers were not exempt from the rigours of the justice system. They had to appear in military or civilian courts and before the Conseil supérieur, where they were at least permitted to wear their swords as a sign of their social standing. Gentlemen were not normally subjected to the "Question." Duelling was forbidden, and the law was rigorously applied when deaths occurred. In 1715 the Chevalier d'Argenteuil was condemned to have "his head cut off" 119 for having killed another officer. A scandal erupted in Quebec in 1748 when Lieutenant Pierre Le Gardeur de Repentigny killed a bourgeois in a duel. He compensated the widow, who pardoned him, and then took flight. He was condemned to death in absentia, but his friends appealed to the king who pardoned him. However, he was transferred to Île Royale and finished his career in India. Moral transgressions could ruin officers' careers if they were serious enough and resulted in disgrace and banishment. Major La Freydière of the Carignan-Salières Regiment suffered this punishment in 1667 for attempting to force a woman to have sexual relations with him by imposing extra duties and punishments on her husband. Frontenac sent several "impossible" 120 officers back to France, including Sieur Bouchermin who had attempted to poison his wife.

Military transgressions judged by the Conseil de guerre were subject to review by the minister or even the king. For instance, when local authorities failed to punish Lieutenant Linctot severely enough, after he allowed two convicts to escape, Versailles stepped in, sentencing him to three months in prison in 1742. Failing to obey orders could cause an officer to be stripped of his rank or even condemned to death if serious consequences ensued. Flight in the face of the enemy, desertion and sedition were also punishable by death.