Edge of Empire cover
Edge of Empire
Documents of Michilimackinac, 1671-1716

Few places were as important in the seventeenth-century European colonial New World as the pays d’en haut. This term means "upper country" and refers to the western Great Lakes (Huron, Michigan, and Superior) and the areas immediately north, south, and west of them. The region was significant because of its large Native American population, because it had an extensive riverine system needed for beaver populations—essential to the fur trade—and because it held the transportation key to westward expansion. 
     It was vital to the French, who controlled the region, to be on good terms with its peoples. To maintain good relations through trade and diplomacy with the nations in the pays d’en haut, the French built a number of posts, including one at Michilimackinac and one on the St. Joseph River (near Niles, Michigan). These posts were garrisoned by French troops and run by French commanders who contracted with merchants to manage business matters.
     Edge of Empire provides both an overview and an intensely detailed look at Michilimackinac at a very specific period of history. While the introduction offers an overview of the French fur trade, of the place of Michilimackinac in that network, and of what Michilimackinac was like in the years up to 1716, the body of the book is comprised of over sixty French-language documents, now translated into English. Collected from archives in France, Canada, and the United States, the documents identify many of the people involved in the trade and reveal a great deal about the personal and professional relations among people who traded. They also reveal clearly the process by which trade was carried out, including the roles of both Native Americans and women. At the same time, the documents open a window into French colonial society in New France.

Publication Date: November 21st, 2008
192 pages| 6 in x 9 in
The late Joseph L. Payser was Professor Emeritus of French at Indiana University South Bend and co-director of the French Michilimackinac Research Project.

José António Brandão is a Professor of history at Western Michigan University. His research focuses upon the history, culture, and interaction of the Iroquois Indians with their Native and European neighbors, and on the history and culture of New France. Brandão is also codirector of the French Michilimackinac Research Project, a project of the Mackinac State Historic Parks that aims at identifying and translating French language materials related to the early history of Michigan, especially that of the Straits of Mackinac.

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ISBN: 9780870138201

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