Canadian Military History Gateway
Subject > Soldiers, Warriors and Leaders
Date > 1400
Sailing west from Bristol in the south west of England in May 1497, Cabot sighted land on 24 June. This was probably Newfoundland but also possibly Cape Breton Island. Cabot took possession of his discovery for England, which gave that country its first claim of trans-Atlantic territory.
Introduction by W.A.B. Douglas, Director Directorate of History, Program Chairman. Articles in a variety of languages including: English, German, French, Italian, Portugese, Spanish, Russian, Greek.
This history on our Aboriginal Peoples and their contribution to Canada’s rich military heritage is the latest in a series of books prepared by the Director of History and Heritage commemorating especial military experience.
Authors : P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Ph.D., R. Scott Sheffield, Ph.D., John Moses, Maxime Gohier
Professional soldiers were a recent development in the Europe of 1500. They fought for pay, not for loot or feudal obligation, and could have firearms as weapons.
Some 200 ‘rondelles’ - round shields carried by infantry swordsmen, more commonly called ‘rondaches’ - formed part of the armament sent to Canada in 1541. Swordsmen still formed an important part of infantry contingents in mid-16th century European armies.
The Matthew was a barque under 100 tons manned by a crew of 18 hands led by John Cabot. It sailed from Bristol in the south west of England in May 1497. The ship is known to have had a triangular lateen sail as shown in this reconstruction.
This crossbowman wears the white and black livery worn by the members of the Cartier and Roberval expedition to Canada during 1541-1542. These men were well armed and well equipped. In this period, each soldier wore an iron helmet and a breastplate, carried a sword and dagger, and sometimes wore livery clothing. Black and white were not only the colours of Brittany, the starting point of the expedition, but also those of French King François I at this time. Reconstruction by Michel Pétard. (Canadian Department of National Defence)