By 1674, the Hudson's Bay Company had been in existance for 4 years, having been chartered by King Charles II on May 2, 1670. Over the 4 years since its founding, Radisson and des Grosseilliers made numerous trips between England and the trading posts in Hudson Bay. The Hudson's Bay Company prospered beyond all expectations.
In 1674, Father Charles Albanel, a Jesuit priest in New France, had been captured by the British and taken to England where he met with Radisson and des Grosseilliers. Historians believe that, by this time, Radisson and 'Gooseberry' (as des Grosseilliers was known to the British) had served their purposes in establishing and expanding the Hudson's Bay Company. They no-longer offered anything of any value to the Company. Nonetheless, whatever the reason for their decision, Radisson and des Grosseilliers returned to France where they would once again pledge their allegiance to their 'home' country.
France was eager to accept their pledge. They had realized the horrible mistake of not listening to the brothers-in-law a decade earlier and their own fur trade was being seriously hampered by the presence of the Hudson's Bay Company. France was in serious financial trouble.
Radisson and des Grosseilliers were ordered to sail to New France and to convince the authorities there of the necessity to claim Hudson Bay under the French flag and to take over the fur trade there. In New France, however, Governor Frontenac (who had attained his title in 1672) would hear nothing of it. He was convinced that their future lay in exploring the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.
Despite their efforts, Radisson and des Grosseilliers were unable to complete the commission given to them by the King of France. With little choice, Radisson and des Grosseilliers resumed their explorations and fur trade to the west. However, when they were forced to pay a heavy duty on any furs they brought into the trading posts, the brothers-in-law had just about had enough of the treatment they had been forced to endure.
The final chapter of the Radisson and des Grosseilliers saga would begin only a few years later in 1681.
Radisson and des Grosseilliers
Médard Chouart des Grosseilliers
Expedition to Lake Superior
Hudson Bay Company
* Back to France *
The Final Chapter