Sieur de Sauvole
French explorer and commander Sieur de Sauvole served as the acting governor of Louisiana from May 2, 1699, until his death on August 22, 1701.
French explorer and commander Sieur de Sauvole served as the acting governor of Louisiana from May 2, 1699, until his death on August 22, 1701. He was a close associate of Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, the founder of the first permanent French settlement in Louisiana, and his brother, Jean-Baptise Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville. Though relatively little is known about Sauvolve—not even his full name—his journal, The Journal of Sauvole: Historical Journal of the Establishment of the French in Louisiana, provides one of the first observations about the region.
Sieur de Sauvole was born in France, although his parentage is unknown. Though some historians have suggested that Sauvole might be a brother of Iberville and Bienville, no evidence supports this assumption. It is known that, in 1699, he held the dual role of ship’s ensign and lieutenant in Bellecourt’s company of marines. That year he sailed aboard the Marin as a member of Iberville’s first expedition to Louisiana. Sauvole also accompanied Iberville and Bienville on their exploratory forays along the Mississippi and Alabama coasts and participated in Iberville’s ascent of the Mississippi River. While Iberville set out to investigate the Manchac-Amite-Lake Ponchartrain route to the Gulf of Mexico, Sauvole assumed command of the expedition.
When Iberville returned to France in May of 1699, he appointed Sauvole commandant of Fort Maurepas, a small military outpost. After assuming command of the post, he devoted most of his time to fostering good relations with neighboring Indian tribes, organizing small expeditions to explore the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama coastal areas, and maintaining the rapidly deteriorating wooden fort. He also built relationships with Native Americans in the area.
Sauvole died of yellow fever at the fort on August 22, 1701.
Adapted from Carl A. Brasseux’s entry for the Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, a publication of the Louisiana Historical Association in cooperation with the Center for Louisiana Studies at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette.
Sources: Jay Higginbotham, “Who Was Sauvole?,” Louisiana Studies, VII (1968); Carl A. Brasseaux, trans. and ed., A Comparative View of French Louisiana, 1699 and 1762: The Journals of Pierre Le Moyne d’Urbervilles and Jean-Jacques-Blaise d’Abbadie (1979); Jay Higginbotham, trans. and ed., The Journal of Sauvole: Historical Journal of the Establishment of the French in Louisiana by M. de Sauvole (1969).