Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur d'Iberville
The history of the City of D’Iberville can be told in two stories; the story of its namesake Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur d’Iberville who explored the area after landing on the Gulf Coast in 1699 and the story of a group of dedicated citizens who worked tirelessly to incorporate the community known as d’Iberville in 1988.
Biography of Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur d’Iberville:
D’Iberville’s father was Charles LeMoyne. He came to New France (Canada) in 1641 at the age of 15 as the indentured servant of Jesuit missionaries. He was later a fur trader and an Indian fighter. He was a true self-made man, becoming one of the wealthiest and most powerful citizens in modern-day-Montreal and an influential pioneer in the small town of Ville-Marie. In 1668 he was issued letters of patent by the court of Versailles, giving him a noble title. He was also granted land in the Longueuil area and hence became known as Charles LeMoyne de Longueuil. His wife was Catherine Thiery. She gave birth to 13 children, including 11 boys, each of whom fought for the French in their quest to conquer Canada.
Note: phrases such as d’Iberville, de Longueuil, de Sainte-Helene or Sieur de Bienville were used after proper names as a reference to a noble title, either inherited or issued by a sovereign. It also indicated ownership or lordship over land. “D’Iberville” referred to a fief held by his father’s family in Dieppe, a province of Normandy, France. He also was known as Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur d’Iberville et d’Ardillieres, after he acquired land in a province of Aunis near Rochefort.
D’Iberville was born on July 9, 1661. A relatively uneducated man, he became an accomplished soldier and is known in Canada as its first hero with a statue of him standing today at the Valiant’s Memorial in Ottawa, Canada.
In 1686 he was sued for paternity of an unborn child by the guardians of Jeanne-Genevieve Picote de Belestre who accused him of seduction with the promise of marriage. He was found guilty in October, 1688 and instructed to take charge of the child (daughter). He then married Marie-Therese Pollet in October of 1693 after a long courtship. Marie-Therese lived most of her married life in France.
Three of Charles LeMoyne’s sons were part of an expedition of the Hudson Bay in 1686: Pierre LeMoyne d’Iberville, Jacques LeMoyne de Sainte-Helene and Paul LeMoyne de Maricourt. The campaign gave the French control over three trading posts. D’Iberville then travelled to France in 1687-88 and convinced the court of King Louis XIV to fund more, French-led campaigns to compete with the English fur trade in the Hudson Bay area.
It should be noted here that d’Iberville’s motives, like many soldiers of fortunes of the time was both nationalistic and materialistic. He was loyal to the French crown and fought to maintain its control of North American lands and its continued rivalry against the English and he was equally determined to gain wealth in the fur trade and often used the resources of state and the rewards of battle to do so. He is called a freebooter by some historians. He was a ruthless fighter and shrewd tactician. Historians write of his bravery as well as his brutality. One reads such words as pillage, murderous raid, and massacre when reading of d’Iberville’s exploits.
D’Iberville fought against the English, both in North America and Europe. In Canada he battled English fur traders and in Europe he fought the English in conflicts that were part of King William’s War, a conflict that spilled over into the New World and Canadian colonies.
He was second in command against the English at Corlaer (New York), a notorious battle, described by historians as the most brutal massacre of the colonial wars of the time. (The English being the victims of the massacre.) During four months of raiding in 1695 he destroyed 36 English settlements, killing 200 and imprisoning 700. In 1697 D’Iberville faced off with three English ships in the Hudson strait and bravely engaged the ships. He defeated and sunk the 56-gun man-of-war, Hampshire with his 44-gun Pelican. The 32-gun ship Hudson’s Bay also sank and the 36-gun Dering fled. D’Iberville and his crew had to abandon the Pelican as it also sank after being damaged in the battle.
The Treaty of Ryswick, signed that September of 1697 ended King William’s war and along with consequent treaties negated the gains for France that d’Iberville had been a major part of. In 1697 he returned to France.
By 1698, at 37, d’Iberville was a soldier of fortune, known in the Hudson Bay area as “the most famous son of New France.” He had participated in brutal battles and gained wealth and fame. Some historians write that he was looking for more adventure and action in warmer climates. He was in France when King Louis XIV decided to send another expedition to the territory named Louisiana by the explorer LaSalle. D’Iberville was chosen to head the expedition. D’Iberville argued strongly in favor of the expedition at the court of Versailles saying,
“If France does not seize this most beautiful part of American and set up a colony…the English colony which is becoming quite large, will increase to such a degree that in less than one hundred years it will be strong enough to take over all of America and chase away all other nations.”