Thursday, August 23, 2007
PART I - The French Connection
The Burgundians were another Germanic nation that favored Arianism. They lived along the eastern border of the Frankish lands, in the areas now called
Around the late 900s, during the days of the powerful Counts of Anjou, a nobleman named Gelduin, Lord of Saumur, was forced from his chateau on the
But the d’Amboise family persevered. They grew in strength and stature through the ages. They married well, inherited a number of other seigneuries and their chateau. They also rebuilt their original home. At least one of these Lords of Amboise (Seigneurs d’Amboise) died in the battles of the Hundred Years War. The family split in two, one line centered at
 Sergeant, Lewis, p.140.
 See Cook. Also, see Bachrach: Lisois (Lisoius) and Gelduin, on opposite sides of the wars between the Counts of Anjou and
 Hugues III was killed at
Chapter 2: Medieval Powerhouse: Soldiers, Rebels, and Advisors to Kings
King Louis XI (1461-83) inherited a war-torn country. But he had some remarkable skills (he was called the universal spider because of his web of intrigues) and some good counselors. He trusted in using his wits to change the medieval realm he inherited into the national monarchy that lasted until the French Revolution of 1789. In the process he helped to develop a new merchant class, sheltered the growing bourgeoisie, held his lords in check, and protected the Renaissance in
Needless to say, the nobles did not care for the centralization of power that Louis XI was forging. In 1465 a number of them rebelled “for the good of the people.” Pierre d’Amboise, who had fought for his country with Jeanne d’Arc at
But the d’Amboise family was powerful enough not to simply accept this.
Of Pierre d’Amboise’s 17 children, two sons (including Georges) became cardinals in the Catholic Church. Another was an architect and builder. A number of others were counselors to various kings. For being “petite noblesse” or minor aristocracy, this was a very influential family.
By this time, the king owned the lands around the neighboring town of
The future King, Charles VIII (1483-98), was born at
Louis XII (1498-1515) continued building the structure at
By now Georges d’Amboise, son of
In 1511, Charles II d’Amboise, finished rebuilding the family chateau at Chaumont-sur-Loire.
Francis I (1515-1547) was another lover of Italian art and culture. He continued work on the great chateau at
Later in its existence, the great d’Amboise family had “four main branches” (indicating other, minor, branches?) which were: the family at
Some time in the early 1500s, after the chateau of Chaumont was completed, the d’Amboise family lost their home for the final time. We do not yet know why, but at the same time all of society was changing and the aristocracy was suffering a number of reversals.
The next century and a half were filled with wars, religious civil wars, and rebellions. While fascinating, the details are too complex to recite here. During the French Wars of Religion, Catholics and Calvinists (the Huguenots or French Protestants) fought each other through eight civil wars from 1561 to 1598. During these terrible times a mass execution was held at the chateau of
Aside from massive political and religious movements, this period also experienced economic influences the world had never seen before. The influx of gold and silver from the
All of this had a grave effect on the aristocracy. Tax structures were changing and peasants were leaving the land for cities, jobs, and a chance to live a better life. The aristocracy was suddenly unable to raise the monies they had once collected. The cost of horses, carriages, good cloth (not the woolens worn by the peasants), the great variety of foods, good wine, and all the necessary servants was tremendous. But between the new economic phenomenon called inflation and their reduced income, it became extremely difficult for the nobles to run the organization of a chateau or a mansion in the manner that was expected. Many of the nobility financed their lifestyle by selling off lands to the new middle class. And the bourgeoisie often loaned money to the aristocracy to help them live in their accustomed ways. That could make things even worse; many noble families went bankrupt.
The rising middle class not only became richer, they grew more powerful. Many merchants and bankers became more influential than many nobles. More than a few of the bourgeoisie were eventually named to the nobility. Two classes of aristocracy came into existence: the old landed nobility and the mercantile nouveau riche. At the same time, more than a few voices began to ask why the nobles were still so privileged when they did nothing but live off the working classes. Molière even made public the contempt, disdain and derision on the stage for everyone to see and enjoy. The status of much of the nobility declined at the same time that of the bourgeoisie increased.
In society at large, wages did not keep up with prices, and there was a great need for relief for the poor. Villages and towns could not afford to care for them, and the Church developed new orders of priests and nuns to administer to the new underclass. Much of the work of George Cardinal d’Amboise, in his position as Archbishop of Rouen, was involved with the relief of the poor. Regrettably, such charitable work made only a small difference.
In 1598 King Henry IV issued the Edict of Nantes, providing for freedom of religious worship within certain limits. It was accepted by both Catholics and Protestants, both sides being worn out. This is important to Acadian history because the earliest settlement and development of that colony was a joint Protestant-Catholic effort.
Samuel Champlain and others developed a colony in
The Catholics began the siege of the last major Protestant stronghold, the city of
The Fronde, an early French Revolution, took place between 1648 and 1652.
Chapter 3: Ancestral Families
This is the world which gave birth to the first Acadian with the name of Bergeron, our ancestor Barthélemy Bergeron d’Amboise.
One of the major genealogists of the Bergeron d’Amboise family was Father Adrien Bergeron, an Acadian from the Nicolet county area on the south bank of the St. Lawrence, across from Trois Rivières, Québec. He published articles and genealogies from the 1960s (perhaps earlier) to the 1980s. It was from his work that the author discovered the basic framework of the early family. The part of that framework that is pertinent to the present discussion is this: Barthélemy Bergeron d’Amboise married Geneviève Serreau de St-Aubin, the daughter of Jean Serreau de St-Aubin and Marguerite Boileau (Boyleau) de la Goupillère. All of these families seem to have been very effected by the history just recounted, i.e., the rise of the bourgeoisie. We will return to Fr. Bergeron and the Bergeron families (there are two of them) in a while, but will first discuss the Serreau and Boyleau families.
Paul Delaney, a Bergeron descendant and an English professor at the Université de Moncton in Moncton, NB, has done extensive research that shows that Geneviève Serreau’s mother, Marguerite Boisleau (Boyleau) was from a family that probably started out as part of the rising bourgeoisie. He has also provided some valuable information and insights concerning the rest of the families.
Jean Serreau de St-Aubin
Jean Serreau, Sieur de Saint-Aubin, originally came from
Paul Delaney has provided us with a very large set of genealogical data concerning the family and ancestry of Marguerite Boyleau, wife of Jean Serreau and mother of Barthélemy Bergeron’s wife, Geneviève. Counting Marguerite and her sister Marie, Delaney gives us five generations of the Boyleau family (the Roman Numerals are mine):
René Boyleau II (born
René Boyleau III (born
René Boyleau IV (born
By the late 17th century the family was in such a state that two daughters of the last-named couple, the sisters Marguerite and Marie, went to New France as Filles du Roi (“Girls/Daughters of the King”), special ladies sent over to the new world by the king for the express purpose of becoming wives to the soldiers already there, settling down and populating the colony. Very few aristocratic women went to
Paul Delaney’s previously unpublished family tree (as published by Jean-Marie Germe) showed Marguerite and Marie’s grandmother, Marthe Quantin being the daughter of André Quantin and Marguerite Bougrault. Marguerite Bougrault’s mother was Françoise d’Argouges, a member of a family carrying the same name as a very famous family which was originally from around
Bergeron Family #1
We know for certain of two Bergeron families in the town of
Name & Birth
Known Children & Birth Years
| || |
Jean I (1540)
Jean I (1540)
Jean II (1570)
Jean II (1570)
Notre-Dame de Grève,
Jean III (1598)
All baptized at Notre Dame de Grève,
Jean III (1598)
Jean IV (1633)
Jacques (1642) [twins?]
Marie (1642) [twins?]
In 1530 we have the first mention of a Bergeron in the town of
Jean III was born the same year as the Edict of Nantes (1598) to Jean II Bergeron and Jeanne Belouche at
In 1623 Jean III Bergeron married Catherine Douaray at Chaumont-sur-Loire. They had the following children: Jean IV (b.1633), Louise (b.1637), Jacques (b.1642), Marie (b.1642), Antoine (b.1643) (possibly our ancestor), Catherine (b.1644), Thomas (b.1648), Pierre (b.1650).
Antoine Bergeron was a boy, going from to 9 years old during this troubled time. Twelve years later (1664), he married Claudette Searron (or Scarron) at Chapelle St-Florentin,
Upon analyzing the family of Jean III Bergeron and Catherine Douaray, we see that Antoine, supposedly the father of Barthélemy, was the third son of the family. As was mentioned earlier, in the old system of things, if the family were noble, the first son (in this case, Jean IV) inherited the “partage” (two-thirds of the estate) and the other children divided the remainder. The oldest child may or may not have supported his/her siblings to a greater or lesser degree, or they may have been left to make a living as best they could. These younger children form the pool of educated people which gave the church its priests and nuns. And this is where the vast majority of professional soldiers came from.
The available data do not indicate whether Antoine and Claudette Bergeron’s Barthélemy was the oldest son or not. He was certainly the son of a younger son. Even if Jean IV did support his brothers, by the time Barthélemy was born, there probably were far too few family resources available to support him. And so he joined the Troupes de la Marine, which assigned his unit to
Now, all this is if this is truly our Barthélemy Bergeron. Paul Delaney indicates that this family may not even have had a son named Barthelemy; he mentions the possibility that Dame Lubineau of
Bergeron Family #2
Even though Father Bergeron published the data provided by Dame Lubineau of
That strong probability had been reduced to zero. A genealogical researcher in
So now, except if Dame Lubineau’s family never had a son named Barthélemy as Delaney suspects, we have a problem: two Bergeron families from the same town with sons named Barthélemy born within a couple years of each other. And here is an interesting coincidence that may well support Delaney’s supposition: The date provisionally provided for Barthélemy’s birth into Dame Lubineau’s Bergerons is
We do not know how, or even if, the two families were related to each other. And we do not know which, if either, were related to the medieval d’Amboise family. As cousin Joe Damboise of
We know Antoine’s siblings (see above), so unless the data are incomplete, Antoine and René were not brothers. However, Antoine had two uncles that we know of, Noël and Zacharie. As Joe suggested, one of them may have had a son René, making him Antoine’s cousin. Needless to say we need considerably more work here. I tried to find more information about René Bergeron and Anne Dagault by asking (over the internet) a volunteer researcher in
There may be another place to search. In the early 1700s when a different Michel Bergeron showed up in
Again, keep in mind that, as Paul Delaney points out, the family listed in Father Bergeron’s works are quite upper class and carried the designation of “Sieur de la Goupillère” (NOT the same Goupillère as the Boyleau family). They probably were not aristocracy, but they were certainly upper class bourgeoisie. And there is no indication whatsoever that the family found by Germe has the same status; it does not have the documentation in the archives to support any claim to the same social position.
________________ This is the area where the author’s grandfather came from: Jules Bergeron was born in St-Grégoire and grew up in Ste-Eulalie.
 Paul Delaney, personal e-mail correspondence with the author,
 Paul Delaney, personal e-mail correspondence with the author,
 This list is compiled from Germe, AGCF01, pp.20-21.
 Delaney, AGCF98b, p.12. The families of all the wives in this list was taken from this source.
 Delaney, AGCF98a, p.11. This article shows that her last name was Ferrand, not Serrant as claimed by Father Archange Godbout and René Jetté. Jean-Marie Germe of the AGCF helped with the research.
 Paul Delaney writes: “...one line that is definitely of ancient nobility, though of the ‘petite noblesse’ of the provinces, rather than of one of the great and powerful families of
 Germe, AGCF01, pp. 20-21.
 There is a famous seven-volume series of historical novels written by Pierre Naudin concerning this family called the Cycle of Ogier d’Argouges. Regrettably, it has not yet been published in English. The titles are: Les lions diffamés, Le Granit et le feu, Les Fleurs d’acier, La Fête écarlate, Les Noces de fer, Le Jour des Reines, and L’Epervier de feu.
 This case and these rules of inheritance were provided to me by Paul Delaney, via private e-mail correspondence,
 Bergeron, LGA, p. I-254.
 Bergeron, LGA, p. I-263-64.
 Bergeron, LGA, p.I-263.
 Bergeron, LGA, p. 263.
 Originally troops stationed on French ships, thus “Troupes de la Marine” or “Troops of the Navy.” Later they became the troops sent out to protect the colonies.
 Paul Delaney, private e-mail correspondence,
 Bergeron, LGA, p.254.
 Germe, AGCF98c, p. 13 (which has a photocopy of the baptismal certificate), and AGCF99, p. 3.
 Paul Delaney, private e-mail correspondence,
 Paul Delaney, private e-mail correspondence,
Chapter 4: The Question of Aristocracy
Some mystery still remains about the double surname of Barthélemy Bergeron d’Amboise. The enigma is not about the names themselves - the second name (d’Amboise) can be easily explained as locational. But if it IS a locational name, and Barthélemy was a commoner, there is the puzzling events of Barthélemy having the friends that he had and receiving the deferential treatment that he did in
There could be four reasons for his name: (a) Barthélemy was truly a descendant of the medieval d’Amboise family, (b) he used “d’Amboise” as a locational amplification (but see below), (c) he actually did use a “dit" name (again, see below), or (d) he deliberately tried to amplify his social status in New France by using the medieval family’s name to good advantage. Of course, we can not know all his motivations with any certainty, but from many indications of his personality (which we will see later in this paper) Barthélemy seems to have been much too honorable a person for the fourth possibility to be true. But this is the author’s conjecture (bias?).
Furthermore, we can not know whether points two and three were true or not without completely proving point one. The following are some arguments in favor of the first point, which, in some respects, seem to be overwhelming.
There are a number of facts which logically indicate that Barthélemy’s family was descended from the medieval d’Amboises, or at least from some aristocratic family. Consider the following points (most of which we will meet again later in this biography):
· For most of his life, Barthélemy was known as d’Amboise, not Bergeron, and there is no instance in any document of those times that the common “dit” was used between his surnames. Especially during his early years in
(By the way, a considerable part of the “Bergeron family” from
· Furthermore, Barthélemy was certainly treated with all the deference of aristocracy. (And it is very interesting that just when history seems to lose the d’Amboise family, genealogy has found the Bergeron family, especially if we come from the Antoine Bergeron line.)
· As mentioned earlier, the great d’Amboise family had four main branches: the family at
Another possibility was brought to mind by Paul Delaney’s comment concerning people “being on the wrong side of the blanket.” Barthélemy’s family (that of René Bergeron) may have been on the wrong side of the blanket as related to the other, higher class Bergeron family (the one found by Dame Lubineau). Paul wrote: “Of course, there may be a link between the two Bergeron families and a common origin in the past, but we have not found anything on this yet. I have concentrated my research on the Boyleau line."
· Barthélemy seems to have flaunted the king’s law that all young men newly arrived in the colonies had to marry within a year. He did not get married for ten years.
· When he did get married, he married Geneviève Serreau de Saint-Aubin, the daughter of a legitimately landed noble. We have already examined the status of the Sieur de St. Aubin and his wife, Marguerite Boyleau, had a lineage that can be traced back for centuries.
· When he was captured by the English in 1692, Barthélemy was ransomed by Villebon, the governor of
All these are strong indications that this founder of the Acadian Bergeron family was himself at least a nobleman of some degree. As a matter of fact, when I once talked about this to the renowned professor Bernard Bachrach, with whom I had studied Medieval History at the
Father Adrien Bergeron, our own family’s genealogist and historian, wrote: “we can conclude that he [Barthélemy] was of the number of those ‘sons of completely bankrupted and titled families, who position themselves to work on this side of the ocean, in the hope of making a career...’" In fact he specifically asked if Barthélemy might have belonged to the d’Amboise family. Even so, there is no proven connection between us and the famous, powerful French family of cardinals, architects and royal advisors, and the possibility of such a connection needs considerably more research.
So, it is possible (but only possible!) that both sides of the Bergeron d’Amboise-Serreau de Saint-Aubin family in Acadia were from famous families who had fallen on hard times, and whose children went looking for a better life in a completely different world. It is likely that both sides were not from famous families, but were local minor aristocrats or bourgeoisie families raised to the minor aristocracy. Remember that this was a period when many noble and notable families were being ruined by the high cost of maintaining their lifestyle, inflation, and the competing new merchant class (the bourgeoisie). Many of their sons and daughters were forced to look for a new life in the
 “dit” comes from the French word for “he said,” “he called” or “called.” In this case it is best translated as “called.” Barthélemy’s son Michel used this form when there was confusion with another Michel Bergeron, and he became known as Michel dit de Nantes, or Michel, called “from
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