Thursday, March 29, 2007

Louis XVI and the Voyage of La Pérouse

In 1785 Louis XVI commissioned the naval hero La Pérouse to outfit two ships for an expedition to explore the unknown regions of the Pacific Ocean. Both Louis and La Pérouse had read of the discoveries of Captain Cook and Louis did not want the British to outstrip the French in nautical explorations. The king, who was a skilled amateur cartographer and geographer, painstakingly mapped out the voyage which lasted for three years. The adventurers pinpointed the exact location of previously unknown Pacific Islands. In 1788, however, La Pérouse and his men encountered cannibals and the crews of both frigates perished miserably. One man escaped with maps and charts so that the voyage was not in vain. The tragedy destroyed the theory of the philosophes that man in his primitive state was benign and peaceful. Here is an account of the voyage and the discoveries. Share


Anonymous said...

Mangez les infâmes, eh?

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! I didn't know about this.