Map of La Louisiane - The Original Louisiana Territory Before the Treaty of Fontainebleau 1762
Map of La Louisiane — The Original Louisiana Territory
Before the Treaty of Fontainebleau 1762


Treaty of Fontainebleau 1762

This is the main article.

Go here for the English transcript of the 1762 Fontainebleau Treaty.

And here for the 1807 Treaty of Fontainebleau.

For the Preliminary Peace Articles signed on the same day in 1762, see further down.

Image Above

Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississippi, a French map from 1718.

This is the link to this marvelous map hosted by the Library of Congress.

Once there, you can enlarge it to a very high degree. The way Library of Congress have digitized this map is fantastic.

After driving south from Paris for an hour, the fabulous and absolutely enormous Château de Fontainebleau appears, "with over 1500 rooms at the heart of 130 acres of parkland and gardens," so the proud tourist desk informs us.

But they needn't have bothered trying to charm us, they already had us with Primaticcio's Alexander the Great taming Bucephalus.

Here is the good piece:

Alexander the Great Taming Bucephalus by Primaticcio
Alexander the Great Taming Bucephalus (1541-1544)
Painting and Sculpture by Francesco Primaticcio
Château de Fontainebleau - RMN/Jean-Pierre Lagiewski


Here is more on the famous horse Bucephalus.

Back to the Treaty of Fontainebleau of 1762.


Who Signed the Treaty?

The Duke de Choiseul for France and the Marquis de Grimaldi for Spain.

King Louis XV was the king of France from 1715 to 1774, and Charles III was the king of Spain from 1759 to 1788.

Both kings were members of the House of Bourbon and ensured each other's loyalty by means of the Family Compact of 1761.


What Was Agreed Upon?

France gifted all of its Louisiana colony west of the Mississippi River, including New Orleans, to Spain.

The huge amount of land that changed hands is well illustrated on the map above which shows the total extend of Louisiana (east and west of the Mississippi River) at the time of this treaty.

And here are three more Louisiana maps:

Map of 17th Century Louisiana
Map of 17th Century Louisiana
Click to see entire map (World Map)


Map of Louisiana Before 1762
"Louisiana" is hard to read here. Click to enlarge for a better view.


French Louisiana 1682–1762
French Louisiana 1682–1762


Why the Name Louisiana?

Because of René-Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, who lived 1643-1687.

La Salle was a French explorer who claimed the entire Mississippi Basin for his king, Louis XIV. Hence the name.

Here you can track La Salle's expeditions on a map.

And here is La Salle's travel companion Henri Joutel's journal of La Salle's last voyage, 1684-7, digitized by

Back to the treaty.


When Was the Treaty Signed and When Was It Ratified?

On November 3, 1762, at Fontainebleau.

On November 13, 1762, at San Lorenzo el Real (Escurial), Spanish King Charles III approved with his signature, countersigned by Ricardo Wall.

On November 23, 1762, at Versailles, French Louis XV also ratified the treaty, countersigned by César Gabriel de Choiseul, who was the first Duc de Praslin.


Why on Earth...

Why on earth would France give away voluntarily and for nothing in return such an enormous amount of land, which in fact was possibly the most fertile part of North America?

Why indeed, thought Napoleon, and took it all back in 1800 (see Treaty of San Ildefonso.)

But to answer the question:

On the same day on which France and Spain signed this treaty at Fontainebleau, another treaty was signed in the same building. Those were the Preliminary Articles of what would become the
1763 Treaty of Paris ending the French and Indian War, signed by Choiseul for France, Grimaldi for Spain, and John Russell, fourth duke of Bedford, for Britain.

Preliminary Articles of Peace - Fontainebleau, November 3, 1762
Preliminary Articles of Peace
Fontainebleau, November 3, 1762
Click to read entire document on HathiTrust


In order to get Spain to agree to these preliminary articles, in which France made concessions to Britain that were not ideal from the Spanish point of view, Spain received a gift, western Louisiana.

The treaty between France and Spain was kept confidential, especially from the British, who had declared war on Spain in January 1762, and whom the French were fighting since 1754 (see French and Indian War.)

Or, to answer this question in other words, the French and Indian War was mainly a war between Great Britain and France. France dragged Spain into the war as their ally, and just a little later France was itching to stop fighting with Britain and had to persuade Spain again, this time to make peace. Hence western Louisiana.

And hence an excerpt of the treaty was worded as follows:

With this view, his Most Christian Majesty, being fully sensible of the sacrifices made by the Catholic King in generously uniting with him for the restoration of peace, desires, on this occasion, to give him a proof of the strong interest which he takes in satisfying him and affording advantages to his crown.


As far as the Mississippi Basin was concerned, the 1763 Peace of Paris (i.e. the Treaty of Paris and the Treaty of Fontainebleau) changed the map as follows:

Before the 1763 Treaty of Paris
Before the 1763 Treaty of Paris
Library of Congress


After the 1763 Treaty of Paris
After the 1763 Treaty of Paris
Please note: New Orleans is incorrectly shown as British. See more here.
Library of Congress


For more see 1763 Treaty of Paris




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