Study Materials

Elements in “Black Robe” Borrowed from Frances Parkman and The Jesuit Relations

Algonkians visiting Quebec are amazed at a clock, which they call Captain Clock. Reactions to clocks, writing, etc. and Jesuit manipulations mentioned (Thwaites VIII: 109).
Governor Champlain warns the Jesuit superior of physical & social demands that will be made on Father Laforgue travelling with Indians. Details in Brebeuf, “Instructions for the Fathers of Our Society Who Shall Be Sent to the Huron” (Thwaities XII: 116-123; Parkman 1867: 142)
Champlain has ceremonial meeting with Algonkian, introduces Laforgue and other Jesuits with phrase, “These are our fathers.” Meeting and words “These are our Fathers” in Thwaites V: 251; Parkman 1867: 135-136.
Father Laforgue & lay companion set out in autumn from Quebec to Huron territory in 1634, accompanied by a party of Algonkian. Three parties of priests and hired men set out in summer, escorted by Huron (Thwaites VIII: 69-95; Parkman 1867: 135-145; Trigger 1976: 490-494).
Laforgue suffers discomfort and culture shock among Algonkian, especially in smoke-filled hut with sleeping Indians and dogs Details from Lejeune 1634, “What One Must Suffer in Wintering with the Savages.” (Thwaites VII: 35-65; Parkman 1867: 114-116) concerning Montagnais.
Laforgue is plagued by a dwarf Montagnais sorcerer named Mestigoit. Among Montagnais, Fa. LeJeune plagued by shaman whose brother is named Mestigoit (Thwaites VII: 54-65; Parkman 1867: 108-109, 116). Among Huron, missionaries struggle against dwarf shaman named Tonneraouanont (Thwaites XIII-XIV; Parkman 1867: 180-182; Trigger 1976:529).
On the journey, Laforgue uses writing to overawe Algonkian; Indians convinced he is a sorcerer. Europeans criticized for stinginess and covetousness; Laforgue preaches on the afterlife. Jesuit Relations describe these encounters, mostly as they occurred at the Hurom mission (Thwaites 1896-1901, passim; Parkman 1867: 177-178).
Laforgue is abandoned by his Algonkian guides. Three of French on 1634 voyage abandoned at different moments (Thwaites VIII: 81-85; Parkman I867: 141-143; Trigger 1976: 492).
Attack by Iroquois. Laforgue is captured when he comes out of hiding. Father Isaac Jogues, Jesuit saint, captured by Iroquois when he comes out of hiding (Thwaites XXX1: 16-109; Parkman 1867: 305-334)."
At Iroquois village, captives run gauntlet. Laforgue’s thumb is cut off with shell. Iroquois debate whether to torture and kill him or trade him back to the French. Jogues and companions run gauntlet; Jogues’s thumb cut off; Jogues subject of debates among Iroquois.
Laforgue and companions escape Iroquois. Jogues escapes down Hudson River, to Europe, back to Quebec and eventual martyrdom.
As the Indian leader Chomina dies, he sees a vision of a fearsome female spirit who awaits him in the afterlife. Parkman (1867: 69-70,72) makes much of a terrifying female spirit mentioned by the Jesuits (Thwaites VI: 75).
Just before reaching Huron village, Laforgue is abandoned by last surviving companions Fa. Brebeuf left by companions just short of his goal in Huronia (Thwaites XXXI: 91; Parkman 1867: 143-144; Trigger 1976: 493).
In Huron village, an epidemic rages. Baptism is interpreted by Huron as either cause or cure of illness. During 1630s in Huron missions, epidemics are blamed on baptism (Thwaites VII, XI,XIII, XIV; Parkman 1867: 204-214, Trigger 1976: 499-602)

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