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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Bertrand Francois, Count Mare de La Bourdonnais

COUNT Mare De (1699-1753), French naval commander, was born at Saint Malo on the nth of February 1699. He went to sea when a boy, and in 1718 entered the service of the French India Company as a lieutenant. In 1724 he was promoted captain, and displayed such bravery in the capture of Mahe of the Malabar coast that the name of the town was added to his own. For two years he was in the service of the Portuguese viceroy of Goa, but in 1735 he returned to French service as governor of the Ile de France and the Ile de Bourbon. His five years' administration of the islands was vigorous and successful. A visit to France in 1740 was interrupted by the outbreak of hostilities with Great Britain, and La Bourdonnais was put at the head of a fleet in Indian waters. He saved Mahe, relieved General Dupleix at Pondicherry, defeated Lord Peyton, and in 1746 participated in the siege of Madras. He quarrelled with Dupleix over the conduct of affairs in India, and his anger was increased on his return to the Ile de France at finding a successor to himself installed there by his rival. He set sail on a Dutch vessel to present his case at court, and was captured by the British, but allowed to return to France on parole. Instead of securing a settlement of his quarrel with Dupleix, he was arrested (1748) on a charge of gubernatorial peculation and maladministration, and secretly imprisoned for over two years in the Bastille. He was tried in 1751 and acquitted, but his health was broken by the imprisonment and by chagrin at the loss of his property. To the last he made unjust accusations against Dupleix. He died at Paris on the 10th of November 1753. The French government gave his widow a pension of 2400 livres.

La Bourdonnais wrote Traite de la mature des vaisseaux (Paris 1723), and left valuable memoirs which were published by his grandson, a celebrated chess player, Count L. C. Mahe de la Bourdonnais (1795-1840) (latest edition, Paris, 1890). His quarrel with Dupleix has given rise to much debate; for a long while the fault was generally laid to the arrogance and jealousy of Dupleix, but W. Cartwright and Colonel Malleson have pointed out that La Bourdonnais was proud, suspicious and over-ambitious.

See P. de Gennes, Memoire pour le sieur de la Bourdonnais, avec les pieces justijicatives (Paris, 1750); The Case of Mde la Bourdonnais, in a Letter to a Friend (London, 1748); Fantin des Odoards, Revolutions de l'Inde (Paris, 1796); Collin de Bar, Histoire de l'Inde ancienne et moderne (Paris, 1814); Barchou de Penhoen, Histoire de la conquete et de la fondation de l'empire anglais dans l'Inde (Paris, 1840); Margry, "Les Isles de France et de Bourbon sous le gouvernement de La Bourdonnais," in La Revue maritime et coloniale (1862); W. Cartwright, "Dupleix et l'Inde frangaise," in La Revue britannique (1882); G. B. Malleson, Dupleix (Oxford, 1895); Anandaranga Pillai, Les Francais dans l'Inde, Dupleix et Labourdonnais, extraits du journal c'Anandaran-gappoulle 1736-1748, trans. in French by Vinsor in Ecole speciale des langues orientales vivantes, series 3, vol. xv. (Paris, 1894).

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Bertrand Francois, Count Mare de La Bourdonnais'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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