1720 "Louisbourg Founded and Fortified" Medal
Diameter: 42 mm Weight: 38.2 grams
Museum Purchase, Lasser Numismatics Fund
Acc. No. 2017-248
Obverse: Laureate and draped bust of a young Louis XV with long hair facing to the right. LUDOVICUS . XV . D . G . FR . ET NAV . REX . around.
Reverse: Bird's eye view of the fortified harbor and town of Louisbourg, looking westward, from a point above Rochefort Point. Ships are in the harbor to the right, others are in the Atlantic to the left, and the King's Bastion Barracks dominates the skyline. LUDOVICOBURGUM . FUNDATUM . ET . MUNITUM. around, with the date M.D.CC.XX in exergue.
Label:What began as a remote fishing village early in the 18th century became one of the largest fortified towns in North America by the 1740s. Named for the French king, Louisbourg guarded the entrance to the St. Lawrence. This river was a superhighway leading directly to Quebec, the capitol of French Canada, and was seen by the British and Americans as a key military target. A force of New Englanders alone took Louisbourg in 1745, only to be frustrated by the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, which returned the city to France three years later. When the French and Indian War erupted, that regrettable move was counteracted by another successful siege, prosecuted by an Anglo-American force during the summer of 1758.
This medal was produced as part of a long line of well-executed commemorative pieces struck by the Paris Mint. So important was the construction of this vital town to the French crown that it warranted an unusual and beautiful medal; one showing a bird’s eye view of the new fortress. When Canadian archaeologists excavated the remains of Louisbourg during the early 1960s, a number of these medals was found, buried as dedicatory pieces during the construction of the original town.
Today, the Fortress of Louisbourg incorporates an area encompassing about a quarter of the original town, painstakingly - and magnificently - reconstructed by Parks Canada. In many ways, Louisbourg is to French Canada what Colonial Williamsburg is to the United States.