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PARMENTIER, JEAN, navigator, cartographer, and poet; b. 1494 at Dieppe; d. 1529 at sea, off the coast of Sumatra.

It is extremely difficult to prove, from the evidence available, whether or not Jean Parmentier actually came to Canada. According to Lanctot (Histoire du Canada, I, 112), Jean and his brother Raoul in 1520 loaded their boats with furs in the Cape Breton region. E. Guénin, however, in his Ango et ses pilotes (Paris, 1901) says only that c. 1510–20 Parmentier apparently made voyages to Newfoundland, as to other places, for the renowned shipowner Jean Ango. The brothers, moreover, kept the details of their route to the New World secret from all but their master. Although Jean was well known as a cartographer in his lifetime, none of his maps has survived and it is unlikely that, in any event, he entrusted his American secrets to them.

Jean and Raoul both died in 1529 on a voyage to the East Indies. The poet and astrologer, Pierre Crignon, who accompanied them on this expedition, published Jean Parmentier’s poem, “Traicté en forme d’exhortation contenant les merveilles de Dieu et de la dignité de l’homme” as well as his own “Déploration sur la mort desditz Parmentiers” in 1531 and his poem “Plainctes sur les trépas de Raoul et Jean Parmentier” ten years later.

Thomas Dunbabin

The first account of the Parmentiers’ voyages appeared in Description nouvelle des merveilles de ce monde et de la dignité de l’homme . . . (Paris, 1531), which includes Crignon’s “Déploration sur la mort desditz Parmentiers.” Louis Estancelin, Recherches sur les découvertes des navigateurs normands en Afrique, dans les Indes orientales et en Amérique, suivies d’Observations sur la marine, le commerce et les établissements coloniaux des Français (Paris, 1832) contains Crignon’s “journal du voyage de Jean Parmentier de Dieppe, à l’île de Sumatra . . . 1529.” The “Journal” is republished in Le discours de la navigation de Jean et Raoul Parmentier de Dieppe: voyage à Sumatra en 1529; description de l’isle de Sainct-Domingo, éd. Christian Schefer (Recueil de voyages, IV, Paris, 1883). For a discussion of whether Crignon wrote the “Discorso . . .” published by Ramusio, and of the validity of the evidence for a North American voyage by Parmentier, see Henri Harrisse, Découverte et évolution cartographique de Terre-Neuve et des pays circonvoisins, 1497, 1501, 1769 (Paris, 1900); Hoffman, Cabot to Cartier, 149, 169; and Les voyages de découverte et les premiers établissements, XVe, XVIe siècles, éd. Ch.-A. Julien (Colonies et Empires, 3e série, Paris, 1948).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Thomas Dunbabin, “PARMENTIER, JEAN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 19, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/parmentier_jean_1E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/parmentier_jean_1E.html
Author of Article: Thomas Dunbabin
Title of Article: PARMENTIER, JEAN
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1966
Year of revision: 1966
Access Date: April 19, 2014