Marguerite de La Rocque

Marguerite de La Rocque: 16th Century Noblewoman Stranded on the Isle of Demons

(Read the article on one page)

Marguerite de la Rocque was a French noblewoman who is well-known for surviving several years alone on a deserted island known as the Isle of Demons.  Marguerite was marooned on the island by her cousin, Jean-Francois de Roberval. Some say that Roberval acted out of anger, due to Marguerite’s ‘scandalous’ behavior. Others say that he acted out of greed, in hopes of receiving a portion of inheritance. Regardless of Roberval’s reason for stranding Marguerite on the Isle of Demons, the time she spent there was certainly harrowing. She went from a life of luxury, to one of survival. She witnessed the death of several people, including her infant child. Due to some good fortune, Marguerite was eventually rescued from the Isle of Demons, and survived to tell her tale.

Marguerite de la Rocque was born sometime around the year 1515 in France. By the age of 20, Marguerite had acquired an immense wealth and lived a life of privilege and luxury. She owned a great deal of land in Southern France in an area known as Languedoc. In addition to her individually owned lands, she also owned a substantial amount of land jointly with her cousin Jean-Francois de Roberval. As a woman of means, Marguerite’s life was relatively carefree.

Marguerite de la Rocque owned substantial amounts of land in Languedoc, France

Marguerite de la Rocque owned substantial amounts of land in Languedoc, France ( Wikimedia Commons )

Marguerite’s cousin, Roberval, was viewed by many as a “social-climber.” He would affiliate himself with anyone he believed would be useful to him, engaging in social activities. One of his associations was with King Francis I of France. Roberval befriended King Francis, and the two would spend their time together womanizing and game hunting. Through this close relationship, Roberval convinced King Francis to appoint him Lieutenant-General of New France, the area which is now known as Canada.

Portrait of King Francis I of France by Joos van Cleve c. 1530

Portrait of King Francis I of France by Joos van Cleve c. 1530 ( Wikimedia Commons )

In 1542, Roberval was to set sail on one of three ships headed towards New France. The ships were carrying hundreds of colonist, livestock, and equipment to New France. Roberval was to travel aboard the ship known as the Valentine, and Marguerite decided to travel with him. It is unclear why a woman of means would choose to travel aboard these ships en route to New France. This has remained an unanswered question over the years, as a woman of such means would have no reason to embark on such a journey. She did, however, and what happened next had become a legendary tale of a lone survivor struggling to survive on a deserted island. After the ship set sail, Roberval marooned Marguerite and two others on the Isle of Demons, a legendary land once believed to exist on Quirpon Island, Newfoundland in Canada, leaving them behind to perish.

The Isle of Demons began appearing on maps in the beginning of the 16th century, but had disappeared by the mid-17th century. According to legend, the island was populated by demons and wild beasts, which would attack any ships that passed or anyone that was foolish enough to wander onto the island.

Inscription of the Isle of Demons off Newfoundland in the map

Inscription of the Isle of Demons off Newfoundland in the map. ( Wikimedia Commons )

The reason for Roberval’s actions has been disputed. According to some accounts, Roberval was not happy with Marguerite’s behavior aboard the Valentine. The 27-year old Marguerite had become pregnant after having an affair with a young man on the ship. Roberval viewed Marguerite’s actions with the young man as scandalous, and as disrespectful to her family. Other accounts illustrate Roberval acting not out of anger, but out of greed, hoping to inherit from Marguerite. Regardless of his motive, and acting under the authority in his role as Lieutenant-General, Roberval ordered the ship to take Marguerite to a deserted island – the Isle of Demons. There, Roberval marooned her on the island, along with the young man with whom she had become smitten, and her maid, Damienne. By some accounts, Roberval marooned Marguerite, and her lover opted to join her. In other accounts, it was the young man who was marooned and Marguerite that chose to join him.

The trio was given a few supplies, including a gun, gunpowder, an assortment of knives, and a Bible. Together they found a cave within which to take shelter. Unfortunately, Damienne and Marguerite’s lover both perished on the island, prior to the infant’s birth. Marguerite was forced to endure the pregnancy and the birth on her own. Sadly, the infant died as well, and Marguerite was left alone on the island, struggling to survive on the very meager supplies left to her by Roberval.

Comments

This sounds like fiction on several levels. First, there's no logical reason for such a wealthy lady to make such a trip. Second, the island itself is just a fable, and doesn't exist. Third, the story of demons attacking any ship that comes near would have to include suspensions of attacks so that the ship carrying the woman could send a boat to maroon her, and the same suspension would have to happen for her to be rescued.

This is just a fable, most likely, and it isn't realistic enough to even be very interesting.

rbflooringinstall's picture

Dang. She definitely sounds hardcore.

Peace and Love,

Ricky.

When I read the title, I thought for sure you were referencing England..

So the cousin failed in Canada?

Was he still in Canada when she was rescued?

Sunny Young

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

A painted relief shows Ramesses III making offerings to the gods in the sanctuary of the temple of Khonsu at Karnak. Design by Anand Balaji.
The reign of Ramesses III proved to be unprecedented in more ways than one. While most of his predecessors often had to thwart the designs of Egypt’s enemies one at a time, he had to quell invasion attempts by a coalition of savage forces on land and water. As the marauding Sea Peoples set their sights on the grandest prize, Ramesses realized that he had to make a bold statement as Pharaoh and prove that he was God on earth by annihilating their foes.

Myths & Legends

Human Origins

Map of sites and postulated migratory pathways associated with modern humans dispersing across Asia during the Late Pleistocene.
Most people are now familiar with the traditional "Out of Africa" model: modern humans evolved in Africa and then dispersed across Asia and reached Australia in a single wave about 60,000 years ago. However, technological advances in DNA analysis and other fossil identification techniques, as well as an emphasis on multidisciplinary research

Ancient Technology

Ancient Places

Pictorial representation of Pyramid in Teuchitlán Guachimontones Museum.
Guachimontones (known alternatively as Huachimontones) is an archaeological site located in the western Mexican state of Jalisco. This is an important site of the Teuchitlan tradition, which was a pre-Columbian complex society that flourished in the western part of Mexico (occupying territories in the modern Mexican states of Jalisco and Nayarit).

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article