Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Madame de Drucour

"A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches"--Proverbs 11:15

I have not yet found when Madame Marie-Anne Aubert de (Courserac) Drucour was born.  She married the Chevalier de Drucour circa 1750 (If any of my readers could fill in these dates, please drop me a comment, and cite your sources).
In 1754, the Chevalier de Drucour was appointed governor of New France's island fortress of Louisbourg.  Marie-Anne accompanied him and quickly became beloved by the residents of this mighty fortress.  Historian J. S. McLennan describes her: "Madame Drucour, a daughter of the Courserac family which had given many officers to the French navy, did her part in making his regime popular.  She was a woman of intelligence, gracious towards every one, and succeeded in making Government House extremely attractive.
"Later events show that, in addition, she was a woman of rare heroism and a devoted wife.  It may be noted, in passing, that the first and last Governors of Louisbourg both married widows, were splendidly mated, and left them in extreme poverty.  Madame de Drucour was the widow of a Savigny. She received a pension of 1000 l., but died only a few weeks after her husband, about the time, October 1763, it was granted."--pgs. 233-34, Louisbourg: From its Foundation to its Fall 1713-1758, by J. S. McLennan.

During the Siege of Louisbourg (1758), Madame Drucour proved her worth yet again.  As Francis Parkman wrote in his Montcalm and Wolfe:
"Drucour, on occasion of a flag of truce, wrote to Amherst that there was a surgeon of uncommon skill in Louisbourg, whose services were at the command of any English officer who might need them. Amherst on his part sent to his enemy letters and messages from wounded Frenchmen in his hands, adding his compliments to Madame Drucour, with an expression of regret for the disquiet to which she was exposed, begging her at the same time to accept a gift of pineapples from the West Indies. She returned his courtesy by sending him a basket of wine; after which amenities the cannon roared again. Madame Drucour was a woman of heroic spirit. Every day she was on the ramparts, where her presence roused the soldiers to enthusiasm; and every day with her own hand she fired three cannon to encourage them."

The French, after a long and stubborn defense, were defeated, and Louisbourg passed into English hands.  But Madame Drucour's reputation continued, even after the surrender, to be rewarded:
"It was embarked, Pichon claimed, “with as much tranquillity, as if it had been going upon a voyage of pleasure” and Drucour received “all the honours which a person of his rank deserved.” Each day throughout the siege Mme Drucour had fired three guns to encourage the French troops, and after the surrender she assisted “all the unfortunate people that had recourse to her mediation.” Amherst paid her compliments at parleys during the siege, and after the capitulation Boscawen granted every favour she asked. The Drucours sailed from Louisbourg on 15 Aug. 1758, exactly four years after their arrival."--from http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=1216
Madame de Drucour is one of the most interesting and most noble women of the French and Indian War, if not of the entire 18th century.
Note: Rene Chartrand's Louisbourg 1758 has a painting of Madame Drucour firing the cannons on pgs. 66-67.  I know of no other picture of her.

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