Joseph-François Lafitau


Joseph-François Lafitau

Joseph-François Lafitau (born Bordeaux, France, 1 January1681; died there, 1746) was a French Jesuit missionary and writer.

Life and work

Joseph-François Lafitau entered the Society of Jesus, in 1696, and the general, Tamburini, yielding to his entreaties, sent him to Canada in 1711. Appointed to the mission of Sault Saint-Louis (Caughnawaga), he made a thorough study of Iroquois character and usages, as a preparation to his great work "Mœures des Sauvages américains comparées aux mœurs des premiers temps", published in 1724.

It was then that he discovered ginseng, a root highly prized as a panacea in China and Tartary, one ounce selling for as high as three ounces of silver. This discovery created an excitement comparable to that caused later by the finding of gold in California and Australia; but the exportation of the root, after promising immense profits to Canadian trade, rapidly decreased, owing to over-production and inferiority of quality due to hasty and artificial desiccation. Lafitau's treatise on ginseng (1718) drew public attention to this apparent source of prosperity.

In 1717, Lafitau returned to France in the interests of the mission, chiefly to obtain authorization from Court to transfer the Iroquois settlement to its present site, which was preferable to the former on account of its greater fertility. He likewise pleaded for the repression of the liquor traffic.

In spite of his wish to return to Canada, where his knowledge of Indian languages and customs rendered him so valuable that Father Julien Garnier wished him to have him recalled, he was retained in France, and there his later years were spent in writing several works, among which, besides those already mentioned, figures his "Histoire des découvertes et des conquêtes des Portugais dans le Nouveau-Monde" (1733). After Charlevoix, Lafitau has been called the most remarkable historian and naturalist ever sent to Canada by the Society of Jesus.

External links

* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08739a.htm the "Catholic Encyclopedia"]
* [http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=1436 Biography at the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online"]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Joseph-François Lafitau — Naissance 1681 Bordeaux Décès 1746 (à 65 ans) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Joseph Francois Lafitau — Joseph François Lafitau Joseph François Lafitau Naissance 1681 Bordeaux Décès 1746 (à 65 ans) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Joseph François Lafitau — Naissance 1681 Bordeaux Décès 1746 (à 65 ans) Bordeaux …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Joseph-Francois Lafitau —     Joseph François Lafitau     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Joseph François Lafitau     Jesuit missionary and writer, born at Bordeaux, France, 1 January, 1681; died there, 1746. He entered the Society in 1696, and the general, Tamburini, yielding… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Joseph-François — is a given name, and may refer to:* Joseph François Armand (1820 1903), member of the Canadian Senate * Joseph François Deblois (1797 1860), lawyer, judge and political figure in Lower Canada * Joseph François Kremer (born 1954), French composer …   Wikipedia

  • Joseph-François Bourgoing de Villefore — Joseph François Bourgoing de Villefore, né le 24 décembre 1652 à Paris où il est mort le 2 décembre 1737, est un historien français. Fils d’un juge à la monnaie, Bourgoing reçut une éducation soignée qui lui donna le goût de… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Lafitau, Joseph-François —    Jesuit missionary in Canada for many years. Afterwards returned to France, where he became a professor of belles lettres. Chiefly remembered because of his invaluable work on the manners and customs of the Indian tribes of Canada in the early… …   The makers of Canada

  • Lafitau, Joseph-Françs — • Jesuit missionary and writer, born at Bordeaux, France, 1 January, 1681; died there, 1746 Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Lafitau, Joseph Françs     Joseph François Lafitau …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • LAFITAU (J.-F.) — LAFITAU JOSEPH FRANÇOIS (1681 1746) Missionnaire jésuite et excellent analyste des sociétés indiennes d’Amérique du Nord, Joseph François Lafitau naît à Bordeaux et est le frère de Pierre François Lafitau (1685 1764), évêque de Sisteron, qui… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Lafitau —   [lafi to], Joseph François, französischer Missionar (Jesuit) und Ethnograph, * Bordeaux 31. 5. 1681, ✝ ebenda 3. 7. 1746; war 1712 17 in der Irokesenmission Sault Saint Louis (bei Montreal, Kanada) tätig, gilt als einer der Begründer der… …   Universal-Lexikon