CHAPTER III. THE FOUNDING OF NEW FRANCE
The next few years therefore found the colony again in desperate straits. In its entire population there were not more than five hundred men capable of taking the field, nor were there firearms for all of these. The Iroquois confederacy could muster at least three times that number; they were now obtaining firearms in plenty from the Dutch at Albany; and they could concentrate their whole assault upon the French settlement at Montreal. Had the Iroquois known the barest elements of siege operations, the colony must have come to a speedy and disastrous end. As the outcome proved, however, they were unwise enough to divide their strength and to dissipate their energies in isolated raids, so that Montreal came safely through the gloomy years of 1658 and 1659.
In the latter of these years there arrived from France a man who was destined to play a large part in its affairs during the next few decades, Francois-Xavier de Laval, who now came to take charge of ecclesiastical affairs in New France with the powers of a vicar apostolic. Laval's arrival did not mark the beginning of friction between the Church and the civil officials in the colony; there were such dissensions already. But the doughty churchman's claims and the governor's policy of resisting them soon brought things to an open breach, particularly upon the question of permitting the sale of liquor to the Indians. In 1662 the quarrel became bitter. Laval hastened home to France where he placed before the authorities the list of ecclesiastical grievances. The governor, a bluff old soldier, was thereupon summoned to Paris to present his side of the whole affair. In the end a decision was reached to reorganize the whole system of civil and commercial administration in the colony. Thus, as we shall soon see, the power passed away altogether from the Company of One Hundred Associates.