The World of Pierre Miville

Pierre Miville remains, still today, somewhat mysterious person to anyone interested in his biography. We know neither his birth place nor where he married, but a quick survey of the people who dealt with him allow us to better know the man.

Probably accompanied by many Swiss companions who came to fight with the French army. Pierre Miville arrives in France during the 1620's. Since the year 1515, when Francois the 1st defeated the Swiss in Marignan, Switzerland supplied soldiers to the king of France and at the seige of La Rochelle (1627-1628) Cardinal Richelieu's army included a large Swiss effective force (1). Was Pierre one of them? It's very possible for, on a wedding act celebrated in St-Hilaire d'Hiers on June 25, 1635 Pierre Miville witness is qualified as "souice de Monseigneur le cardinal demeurant en Brouage..." (Monsignor the Cardinal's Swiss, living in Brouage). This Cardinal could be no other than Richelieu, Prime Minister to Louis XIII, then titular governor of Brouage.

Three of Miville's children's baptismal act give precious indications on Pierre Miville's relations: That of Aimee tells us that her godfather was Francois Guibourg, lord of Val and secretary to the governor of Brouage, and Suzanne's baptismal act indicates Rene Yvon, butler and cellarman to the same governor, as her godfather(2). The most interesting christening act is Francois: 

  “Ce seize may 1634 a esté baptisé François fils de Pierre Miville et de Charlotte Mongis & a eu pô parrain François Saboureux Sr de St Thomas sergent Major de Brouage et marraine Marie Boursier.”  

     Chauvin                                                                                        St Thomas

     P. Goupil Curé                                                                             Marie Boursier  

His godfather was a soldier, quartermaster-sergeant of the city's garrison. One of the act's signers was Francois Chauvin, an important person in Brouage for he was the engineer in charge of supervising the erection of the fortification of the city. These baptismal acts prove without a doubt, that Pierre Miville was in good relationship with Brouage nobility.

The last mention of the Miville family in Brouage is on May 17, 1643 , when Charlotte Mongis is godmother to Claude Cotart, the son of Nicolas and of Jeanne Mouchette. The Mivilles seem to have left for better skies. Why? In December 1642, Richelieu dies in Paris. As foreseen, Armand de Maille, duke of Breze, becomes governor of Brouage, but in June 1646, he is killed while fighting in Orbitello (Italy) Ann of Austria, the the regent of the kingdom of France, succeeds him. Since she can't fulfill her duty, she is represented by lieutenant-general Louis Foucault, count of Daugnon, already on the premises, who dismisses the former govenors' menservants to replace them by partisans. Pierre Miville, now approximately 46 years old, is probably jobless when in 1648 an uprising known as "war of the fronde'' break out, which will become a civil war. Having lived in Brouage for 15 years, the Miville family had definitely heard of Samuel  de Champlain's discoveries, himself a Brouage kid and since known as "the father of the new France". Probably attracted by the new world promises, Pierre then decides to try his luck with all his family.

The Mivilles arrive in New France very likely in the summer of 1649. One must ask himself whether or not, prior to his departure for Quebec, Pierre had guarantees about his settlement in the colony for shortly after his arrival, he obtains not one but two grants of land: one in the seigniory of Lauzon, the other in the suburbs of Quebec, on the Grande-Allee, between the seignories of Saint-Francois and Saint-Jean(5). And that's not the end of it. In 1654, Pierre Miville will proclaim having a "house located in Quebec continuous on one side to the enclosure of Squire Guillaume Vignal Priest and Chaplin ... consisting in twenty-four fathom-measure of land in one direction and twelve on the other.. due to the deed gift made over by Monseignor Jean de Lauzon advisor to the King on his State and Privy Concil Governor and lieutenant general for his majesty in the Country of New France..."(6)

Pierre Miville probably had continued dealings with Jean de Lauzon. Had they not both been to the service of Richelieu? Besides, at Aymee's wedding Miville's second daughter, Lauzon will attend the ceremony thus showing his esteem to the family.(7) On May 20, 1656, Lauzon will grant to Pierre Miville, just coming back from France , a piece of land in downtown Quebec, on St Pierre Street.(8)

Mercenary carpenter and habitant in alternance, Pierre Miville will maintain throughout his life, the relations, sometimes turbulent with the upper crust of the colony. His sons will be well-noted: Francois will become lord of the manor of Bonne-Rencontre and Jacques will marry a noble lady Catherine de Baillon

This story was written in 1988 edition of Le Fribougeois "Les descendants de Pierre Miville inc." by Raymond Ouimet a well-known and highly respected Canadian Historian.

1. Vaux de Foletier, François de, Le siège de la Rochelle, éd. Quartier Latin et Rupella, p. 206  
2. Baptisimal Acts of August 12, 1635 and January 24, 1640, Brouage.  
3. The quartermaster-sergeant was the one who presided over the troops exercises.  
4. Vigé, E. and J., Brouage, history, visity, imprimerie Delavaud, Saintes, 1987, p.8.  
5. Audouart Registry, October 28, 1649  
6. Audouart Registry, August 9, 1654  
7. July 2, 1652, Québec  
8. West Indies court-scroll 1667-1668: declaration by Francois Miville on behalf of Pierre Miville, his father.  





Published in French by: Les Éditions du Pélican/Septentrion, 1988.
ISBN 2-921114-240





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