Map of North America
in 1702 showing areas claimed by France (blue), and Spain (Texas - orange). In the late 1680s, Henri Joutel
, participated in France's first attempt to establish its Louisiana colony near the Gulf of Mexico, despite Spain's competing claims. Joutel ultimately led some survivors north to the Illinois Country
and Canada and produced an historic journal.
Henri Joutel (c. 1643 - 1725), a French explorer and soldier, is known for his eyewitness history of the last North American expedition of René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle.
Joutel was born in Rouen. After serving as a soldier, he joined La Salle's expedition and became the commander of La Salle's southern colony and base of operations in the New World at Fort Saint Louis (Texas). After the loss of the colony's ships, a mutiny, and La Salle's murder by others, in 1687-88, Joutel led members of the expedition back to France, going north, over land and river, by way of the Illinois Country to New France in what became Canada. Joutel's journal provides some of the earliest written information on the interior, natural history, and ethnography of central North America.
After Joutel returned to France, he became a guard at the city gates of Rouen. He was unpersuaded by the Minister of Marine, Louis de Ponchartrain, to return to America but lent his journal. The journal returned to the Gulf Coast in the Iberville expedition that finally established a lasting French presence near the mouth of the Mississippi River in 1699.
- Henri Joutel, Joutel's Journal of La Salle's Last Voyage (London: Lintot, 1714; rpt., New York: Franklin, 1968).
- Pierre Margry, ed., Découvertes et établissements des Français dans l'ouest et dans le sud de l'Amérique septentrionale, 1614-1754 (6 vols., Paris: Jouast, 1876-86).
- Robert S. Weddle, The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1991).
- Joutel's journal of La Salle's last voyage, 1684-7