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La Tour forced to watch the hanging of her men

    According to the reports of d'Aulnay's men, which provide the only account of what happened next, Françoise was at first allowed a certain amount of freedom. But this ended abruptly when she attempted to send a letter to La Tour. When Françoise's attempt was discovered, retribution fell heavily. She was "put under restraint" (ressèrée) and told she would be sent back to France under close guard to stand trial for treason before the King's council.
    In the end Françoise gave way to despair. All that lay ahead were more months of rigorous imprisonment, heavy sentence for rebellion, punishment, possibly torture and execution. The drain on her strength and vitality had been heavy for a long time, culminating in a siege in the depth of winter, the battle, the terrible deaths of her men. After such an expenditure of strength, infections and illnesses which might ordinarily have been thrown off take firm hold.
    She now fell ill. La Tour's servants said it was from sadness and resentment; the Capucins and d'Aulnay's provost recorded that she fell sick from rage. Most said she died three weeks after the fall of the fort in spite of efforts made to save her.
    What pressures she may have been under, and the precise cause of her death, will probably never be known. William Crowne, an associate of La Tour's in later years, said the Acadians believed she had been poisoned. It is not likely to have been necessary.
    The Capucins said she was interred with solemn ceremony "so that she should be recognized" somewhere behind the fort in the same general area as the soldiers' graves. D'Aulnay sent her son back to France in the care of her waiting woman, where the boy vanished from history.
    Even Françoise Jacquelin's enemies acknowledged her stature – her courage, resourcefulness and strength of purpose which far surpassed the ordinary. D'Aulnay paid tribute to these qualities when he accorded her funeral honours which, in the words of one of his most ardent partisans, the historian Celestin Moreau, were clearly her due because of "the rank she had occupied and the role she had played in the colony."
    Somewhere as yet undiscovered behind the ruins of Fort La Tour lie the remains of a woman who was truly the heroine of Acadia.

M.A. MacDonald is a research associate at the New Brunswick Museum.
She is the author of Fortune & La Tour: The Civil War in Acadia.

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   Check out the links listed below for more on Lady LaTour and the progress of the fort reconstruction.

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