Louis Antoine de Bougainville

Louis-Antoine, Comte de Bougainville (French: [buɡɛ̃vil]; 12 November 1729 – 31 August 1811) was a French admiral and explorer. A contemporary of the British explorer James Cook, he took part in the Seven Years' War in North America and the American Revolutionary War against Britain. Bougainville later gained fame for his expeditions, including circumnavigation of the globe in a scientific expedition in 1763, the first recorded settlement on the Falkland Islands, and voyages into the Pacific Ocean. Bougainville Island of Papua New Guinea as well as the Bougainvillea flower were named after him.

Louis Antoine de Bougainville
Louis Antoine de Bougainville - Portrait par Jean-Pierre Franquel
Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, by Jean-Pierre Franquel
Born12 November 1729
Died31 August 1811 (aged 81)
Known forBeing the first Frenchman to circumnavigate the world, during the 18th century.

Early career

Bougainville was born in Paris, the son of a notary, on either 11 or 12 November 1729. In early life, he studied law, but soon abandoned the profession. In 1753 he entered the army in the corps of musketeers. At the age of twenty-five he published a treatise on integral calculus, as a supplement to De l'Hôpital's treatise, Des infiniment petits.

In 1755 he was sent to London as secretary to the French embassy, where he was made a member of the Royal Society.

Seven Years' War (French and Indian War)

Louis-Antoine de Bougainville portrait
Young portrait of Louis Antoine de Bougainville.

In 1756 Bougainville was stationed in Canada as captain of dragoons and aide-de-camp to the Marquis de Montcalm. He took an active part in the capture of Fort Oswego in 1756 and the 1757 Battle of Fort William Henry. He was wounded in 1758 at the successful defence of Fort Carillon. He sailed back to France the following winter, under orders from the marquis to obtain additional military resources for the colony. During this crossing, he continued to learn about the ways of the sea, skills that would later serve him well. Having distinguished himself in the war against Britain, Bougainville was rewarded with the Cross of St Louis and promoted to colonel. When he returned to Canada the following year, he had gained few supplies. The metropolitan officials had decided that, "When the house is on fire, one does not worry about the stables".

During the pivotal year of 1759 (see Seven Years' War and French and Indian War), Bougainville participated in the defence of fortified Quebec City, the capital of New France. With a small elite troop under his command, among which were the Grenadiers and the Volontaires à cheval, he patrolled the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, upstream from the city; he prevented the British several times from landing and cutting communications with Montreal. He did not have sufficient time, however, to rally his troops and attack the British rear when they successfully ascended the Plains of Abraham and attacked Quebec on 13 September.

Following the death of the Marquis de Montcalm and the fall of Québec on 18 September – after the colonel's aborted attempt to resupply the besieged city – Bougainville was dispatched to the western front by his new commanding officer, the Chevalier de Lévis. He attempted to stop the British advance from his entrenchments at Île-aux-Noix. He was among the officers who accompanied Lévis to Saint Helen's Island off Montreal for the last French stand in North America before the general capitulation of 1761. Of the war, Bougainville wrote in his journal: "It is an abominable kind of war. The very air we breathe is contagious of insensibility and hardness".[1]

Shipped back to Europe along with the other French officers, all deprived of military honours by the victors, Bougainville was prohibited by the terms of surrender from any further active duty against the British. He spent the remaining years of the Seven Years' War (1761 to 1763) as a diplomat, helping to negotiate the Treaty of Paris. Under this France ceded most of New France east of the Mississippi River to the British Empire.

The first French circumnavigation

Îles Malouines settlement

After the peace, the French decided to colonise the "Isles Malouines" (Falkland Islands). These islands were at that time almost unknown. At his own expense, Bougainville undertook the task of resettling Acadians who had been deported to France by the British because of their refusal to sign loyalty oaths.

On 15 September 1763, Bougainville set out from France with the frigate L'Aigle (Eagle) (captained by Nicolas Pierre Duclos-Guyot) and the sloop Le Sphinz (Sphinx) (captained by François Chenard de la Giraudais).[2] This expedition included the naturalist and writer Antoine-Joseph Pernety (known as Dom Pernety), the priest and chronicler accompanying the expedition, together with the engineer and geographer Lhuillier de la Serre.[3]

The expedition arrived in late January 1764 in French Bay (later renamed Berkeley Sound). They landed at Port Louis named after King Louis XV. A formal ceremony of possession of the Islands was held on 5 April 1764, after which Bougainville and Pernety returned to France. Louis XV formally ratified possession on 12 September 1764.[2]

Although the French colony did not number more than 150 people, for financial motivations (Bougainville having paid for the expeditions) and diplomatic reasons (Spain feared that the Falklands would become a rear base to attack her Peruvian gold), Bougainville was ordered by the French government to dismantle his colony and sell it to the Spanish. Bougainville received 200,000 francs in Paris and an additional 500,000 francs in Buenos Aires. Spain agreed to maintain the colony in Port Louis, thus preventing Britain from claiming title to the islands.[2] Spain had claimed dominion before the French settlement in association with its colonies on the mainland. On 31 January 1767 at Río de la Plata, Bougainville met Don Felipe Ruiz Puente, commanding the frigate La Esmeralda and La Liebre ("the Hare") and future governor of Islas Malvinas, to transfer possession and evacuate the French population.

Bougainville wrote:

It was not before 1766, that the English sent a colony to settle in Port de la Croisade, which they had named Port Egmont; and captain Macbride, of the Jason frigate, came to our settlement the same year, in the beginning of December. He pretended that these parts belonged to his Britannic majesty, threatened to land by force, if he should be any longer refused that liberty, visited the governor, and sailed away again the same day.[4]


Port St. Louis as established by Bougainville (Dom Pernety, 1769).


Port St. Louis (Federico Lacroix, 1841).

Port St Louis in Isles Malouines

Port St. Louis (Dom Pernety, 1769).


La Boudeuse
The Boudeuse, of Louis Antoine de Bougainville

In 1766 Bougainville received from Louis XV permission to circumnavigate the globe. He would become the 14th navigator, and the first Frenchman, to sail around the world. Completion of his mission bolstered the prestige of France following its defeats during the Seven Years' War. This was the first expedition to circumnavigate the globe with professional naturalists and geographers aboard.

Bougainville left Nantes on 15 November 1766 with two ships: Boudeuse (captain : Nicolas Pierre Duclos-Guyot) and the Étoile (commanded by François Chenard de la Giraudais). This was a large expedition, with a crew of 214 aboard Boudeuse and 116 aboard Étoile.

Included in the party was the botanist Philibert Commerçon (who named the flower Bougainvillea) and his valet. The ship's surgeon later revealed this person as Jeanne Baré, possibly Commerçon's mistress; she would become the first woman known to circumnavigate the globe. Other notable people on this expedition were Count Jean-François de Galaup de la Pérouse (member of the crew); the astronomer Pierre-Antoine Veron; the surgeon of Boudeuse Dr. Louis-Claude Laporte; the surgeon of the Étoile Dr. François Vives; the engineer and cartographer aboard the Étoile Charles Routier de Romainville; and the writer and historian Louis-Antoine Starot de Saint-Germain.[3]


Bougainville at Tahiti
Bougainville reaching Tahiti

He saw islands of the Tuamotu group on the following 22 March, on 2 April saw the peak of Mehetia and visited the island of Otaheite shortly after. He narrowly missed becoming their discoverer; a previous visit and claim had been made by British explorer Samuel Wallis in HMS Dolphin less than a year previously. Bougainville claimed the island for France and named it New Cythera.

His expedition left Tahiti and sailed westward to southern Samoa and the New Hebrides, then on sighting Espiritu Santo turned west still looking for the Southern Continent. On 4 June he almost ran into heavy breakers and had to change course to the north and east. He had almost found the Great Barrier Reef. He sailed through what is now known as the Solomon Islands but, because of the hostility of the people there, avoided landing. He named Bougainville Island for himself. The expedition was attacked by people from New Ireland so the French expedition made for the Moluccas. At Batavia, they received news of Wallis and Carteret who had preceded Bougainville in discovering Tahiti.

Return to France

Bougainville - Traité du calcul intégral, 1754 - 162404
Traité du calcul intégral, 1754

On 16 March 1769 the expedition completed its circumnavigation and arrived at St Malo. It had lost only seven of its 340 men, an extremely low level of casualties. This result was considered a credit to the enlightened management of the expedition by Bougainville.[5]

Bougainville brought Ahutoru back to France, the first Tahitian to sail aboard a European vessel. In France, Bougainville introduced the Tahitian to high society, including introducing him to the King and Queen at Versailles. Bougainville also underwrote part of the costs for Ahutoru's return to Tahiti after a two-year absence. Unfortunately, Ahutoru died en route of smallpox in Oct. 1771.[5]:122–123

Voyage autour du monde

Bougainville Voyage around the World 1772
Cover page of the English edition of Bougainville's travelogue (1772).

In 1771, Bougainville published his travel log from the expedition under the title Le voyage autour du monde, par la frégate La Boudeuse, et la flûte L'Étoile (a.k.a. Voyage autour du monde and A Voyage Around the World). The book describes the geography, biology and anthropology of Argentina (then a Spanish colony), Patagonia, Tahiti and Indonesia (then a Dutch colony). The book was a sensation, especially the description of Tahitian society. Bougainville described it as an earthly paradise where men and women lived in blissful innocence, far from the corruption of civilisation.

Bougainville's descriptions powerfully expressed the concept of the noble savage, influencing the utopian thoughts of philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau before the advent of the French Revolution. Denis Diderot's book Supplément au voyage de Bougainville retells the story of Bougainville's landing on Tahiti, narrated by an anonymous reader to one of his friends. Diderot used his fictional approach, including a description of the Tahitians as noble savages, to criticise Western ways of living and thinking.[5]:117,121

American Revolutionary War

After an interval of several years, Bougainville again accepted a naval command and saw much active service between 1779 and 1782 during the American Revolutionary War, when France was as an ally of the rebels. He played a crucial part in the French victory at the Battle of the Chesapeake, which led to the eventual defeat of Great Britain.

Battle of the Saintes

In the memorable engagement of the Battle of the Saintes, in which Admiral George Rodney defeated the Comte de Grasse, Bougainville, who commanded the Auguste, succeeded in rallying eight ships of his own division, and bringing them safely into Saint Eustace. He was promoted to chef d'escadre. When he re-entered the army, he was commissioned as maréchal de camp.

After the peace of 1783, Bougainville returned to Paris. He obtained the place of associate of the Academy. He proposed a voyage of discovery to the North Pole but did not gain the support of the French government.

Promotion and retirement

In 1787, he became a member of the French Academy of Sciences. He obtained the rank of vice-admiral in 1791.

In 1794, having escaped from the Reign of Terror, he retired to his estate in Normandy. Returning to Paris, he was one of the founding members of the Bureau des Longitudes. In 1799, the Consul Napoleon made him a senator. He died in Paris on 31 August 1811.

Legacy and honours

Tomb of Bougainville at the Pantheon

Tomb of Louis Antoine de Bougainville, at the Panthéon.

Hyacinthe de Bougainville

Hyacinthe de Bougainville, also a sailor and circumnavigator, was the son of Louis Antoine de Bougainville.

Bougainville-IMG 8774-black

Poshumous bust of Bougainville, made in 1831 by Bosio Astyanax Scevola.

See also


2016-01 Hotel de la Marine 13
Portrait of Bougainville at Hôtel de la Marine (Paris).
  1. ^ Cave, p.11
  2. ^ a b c Roberto C. Laver. The Falklands/Malvinas Case: Breaking The Deadlock in the Anglo-Argentine Sovereignty Dispute. pp. 25–26. ISBN 90-411-1534-X.
  3. ^ a b Essential Oceanic Expeditions from the beginning of Zoological binominal nomenclature until the 1950s.; accessed : 1 November 2010
  4. ^ https://archive.org/details/VoyageAroundTheWorldByLewisDeBougainvilleIn1766-9 |"Voyage Around The World By Lewis De Bougainville in 1766-9"
  5. ^ a b c Salmond, Anne (2010). Aphrodite's Island. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 90, 118–119. ISBN 9780520261143.


  • Waggaman, Béatrice Élisabeth, Le Voyage autour du monde de Bougainville: droit et imaginaire. (Nancy: Presses universitaires de Nancy, 1992).
  • Cave, Alfred A., The French and Indian War (New York, Greenwood Press, 2004).
  • Dunmore, John, Storms and Dreams: The Life of Louis de Bougainville (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2007) ISBN 9781602230019.
  • "Louis-Antoine de Bougainville." French and Indian War. 2003. HighBeam Research. (18 June 2014). http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G2-3411000024.html

External links

1729 in France

Events from the year 1729 in France

Antoine-Joseph Pernety

Antoine-Joseph Pernety, known as Dom Pernety (23 February 1716, Roanne – 16 October 1796, Avignon) was a French writer. At various times he was a Benedictine, and librarian of Frederic the Great of Prussia. Together with the Polish Count Tadeusz Grabianka, also influenced by the Christian mysticism of Swedenborg he founded in 1760 the secret society of ‘Rite hermétique’ or Illuminati of Avignon.

Pernety took part in the 1763-64 expedition under Louis Antoine de Bougainville that established the Port Saint Louis settlement in the Falkland Islands, and published a two-volume account of his nature exploration of the Falklands and the Brazilian island of Santa Catarina. In particular, he gave the first description of the Falklands stone runs phenomenon.

In 1767 Pernety moved to Berlin. In 1779 he became a member of Illuminés of Avignon. In 1780 the oracle "la Sainte Parole" began to advise the Illuminés of Avignon to leave Berlin to establish elsewhere the foundations of a new Sion. In 1783 Pernety left Berlin at the command of the oracle. In October 1784 the oracle told the group that it should move to Avignon. In 1793 Illuminés of Avignon were suppressed by law.

In 1782 Pernety translated from Latin into French Emanuel Swedenborg's Heaven and Hell and in 1786 Swedenborg's Divine Love and Wisdom.

Bougainville Strait

Bougainville Strait separates Choiseul Island, part of the Solomon Islands from Bougainville Island, the next to the northward and part of Papua New Guinea. It was first passed through in 1768 by Louis Antoine de Bougainville, who named it. A Lieutenant John Shortland of the Royal Navy sailed through it in 1788, giving the name of Treasury Islands to the numerous islands, lying in the strait. He named the strait after himself, but it later became known as Bougainville.Bougainville Strait is part of the navigation route for merchant shipping from Torres Strait to the Panama Canal. It is one of three major routes for merchant shipping through the Solomon Islands; the routes are the Bougainville Strait and Indispensable Strait which link the Pacific Ocean, Solomon Sea and Coral Sea; and the Manning Strait that links the Pacific to New Georgia Sound, which is also known as ‘The Slot’, through which Japanese naval ships resupplied the garrison on Guadalcanal during the Pacific War.

Duclos-Guyot Bluff

Duclos-Guyot Bluff (Bulgarian: връх Дюкло Гийо, ‘Vrah Duclos-Guyot’ \'vrah dyu-'klo gi-'yo\) is the ice-covered peak rising to 1800 m at the south extremity of Urda Ridge on Clarence Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. It has precipitous and partly ice-free south slopes, and surmounts Skaplizo Glacier to the west and Dobrodan Glacier to the northeast.

The peak is named after the French mariner Nicolas Pierre Duclos-Guyot (1722-1794), second in command under Louis Antoine de Bougainville in the first French circumnavigation of the world, who sailed in Antarctic waters on board the Spanish ship León in 1756.

French frigate Boudeuse (1766)

Boudeuse was a 26-gun, 12-pounder-armed sailing frigates named La Boudeuse on 6 June 1765. She is most famous for being the exploration ship of Louis Antoine de Bougainville between 1766 and 1769. She also served in the American and French Revolutionary Wars, during which she captured two enemy vessels. She was broken up for firewood at Malta in early 1800.

Guanay cormorant

The Guanay cormorant or Guanay shag (Leucocarbo bougainvillii) is a member of the cormorant family found on the Pacific coast of Peru and northern Chile. (The Argentinian population on the Patagonian Atlantic coast appears to be extirpated.) After breeding it spreads south to southern parts of Chile and north to Ecuador, and has also been recorded as far north as Panama and Colombia – probably a result of mass dispersal due to food shortage in El Niño years. Its major habitats include shallow seawater and rocky shores.

The Guanay cormorant is similar in coloration to the rock cormorant, Phalacrocorax magellanicus, but larger, measuring 78 cm from the tip of the bill to the end of the tail. Its bill is grayish with some red at the base. The face is red with a green eye-ring. It has roseate feet. The head, neck and back are black as are the outer parts of the thighs. The throat patch, breast and belly are white. In breeding plumage it has a few white feathers on the sides of the head and neck.

Breeding occurs year-round with a peak in November and December. The nest is built of guano on flat surfaces on offshore islands or remote headlands. There are up to three nests per square meter in high-density colonies. The Guanay cormorant lays two or three eggs of approximately 63 x 40 mm in size.

It feeds mainly on the Peruvian anchoveta, Engraulis ringens, and the Peruvian silverside, Odontesthes regia, which thrive in the cold Humboldt Current. The Guanay cormorant is the main producer of guano.Habitat loss and degradation and over-fishing have resulted in a steady decline of the population of about 30% from an estimated figure of 3 million birds in 1984. This species is listed as Near Threatened by IUCN.

Some taxonomic authorities, including the International Ornithologists' Union, place this species in the genus Leucocarbo. Others place it in the genus Phalacrocorax.

The scientific name commemorates the French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville. The bird's droppings were such an important source of fertilizer to the peoples of the Andes that it was protected by Inca rulers, who supposedly made disturbing the cormorants in any way punishable by death.

Hao (French Polynesia)

Hao, or Haorangi, is a large coral atoll in the central part of the Tuamotu Archipelago. It has c. 1000 people living on 35 km². It was used to house the military support base for the nuclear tests on Mururoa. Because of its shape, French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville named it "Île de la Harpe" (Harp Island).

History of Samoa

The Samoan Islands were first settled some 3,500 years ago as part of the Austronesian expansion. Samoa's early and more current history is strongly connected with the histories of Tonga and Fiji, which are in the same region, and with whom it shares historical, genealogical, and cultural traditions.

European exploration first reached the islands in the early 18th century.

Louis-Antoine de Bougainville named them Navigator Islands in 1768.

The United States Exploring Expedition (1838–42) under Charles Wilkes reached Samoa in 1839.

In 1855 J.C. Godeffroy & Sohn expanded its trading business into the archipelago.

The Samoan Civil War of 1886–1894 devolved into the Samoan crisis between colonial powers, followed by the Second Samoan Civil War of 1898/9, which was resolved by partition of the islands in the Tripartite Convention, between the United States, Great Britain and Germany

After World War I, German Samoa became a Trust Territory and eventually became independent as Samoa in 1962. American Samoa remains an unincorporated territory of the United States.

Hyacinthe de Bougainville

Hyacinthe Yves Philippe Potentien, baron de Bougainville (26 December 1781 – 18 October 1846) was a French naval officer. He was the son of Louis-Antoine de Bougainville. He became Rear-Admiral on 1 May 1838.

Jean-Pierre de Bougainville

Jean-Pierre de Bougainville (1 December 1722, Paris – 22 June 1763, Loches) was a French writer and the elder brother of the explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville. He was elected to the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in 1746 and he became Permanent Secretary in 1754, the same year he rose to the Académie française.

Johan Maurits Mohr

Johan Maurits Mohr (ca. 18 August 1716, Eppingen – 25 October 1775, Batavia) was a Dutch-German pastor who studied at Groningen University from 1733 and settled in Batavia (Dutch East Indies) in 1737. Mohr's greatest passion was in astronomy but he was also keenly interested in meteorology and in vulcanology.

In 1765 Mohr built a large private observatory in Batavia that was equipped with the best astronomical instruments of his time. His observatory, which had cost him a small fortune, was visited and praised by Louis Antoine de Bougainville and James Cook.

Mohr observed the Venus transits of 6 June 1761 and 3 June 1769 and the Mercury transit of 10 November 1769. He also made meteorological observations and measurements of the magnetic declination at Batavia.

After Mohr's death, his observatory was damaged by an earthquake in 1780, fell into ruin and was demolished in 1812.The minor planet 5494 Johanmohr is named in his honour.

Lycée Français de Bali

Lycée Français de Bali Louis Antoine de Bougainville (LFB, Indonesian: Sekolah Perancis Bali), also known as the École Internationale Française de Bali (EIFB), is a French international school in Kerobokan, Bali, Indonesia. It serves maternelle (preschool) through the terminale (final year) of the lycée (senior high school).The school first opened on 1 September 1991. High school classes began in 2009, with terminale (final year) classes starting in 2011.As of 2016 the school has about 350 students.


Marokau is an atoll of the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia. It lies 53 km southeast of Hikueru Atoll and it is separated by a 2 km wide sound from Ravahere, its closest neighbor in the south.

Marokau and Ravahere form a minor subgroup of the Tuamotus known as the Two Groups Islands.

Marokau Atoll is roughly triangular. The islands on its reef have a combined land area of 14.7 km². The shallow lagoon has a surface of 215.6 km².Marokau has 91 inhabitants. Most live in Vaiori, the main village, located on an island at its northern end. The locals collect copra from the numerous coconut palms planted on the islands and motus. There is another small village called Topitike in its south-eastern corner.

Philibert Commerson

Philibert Commerson (18 November 1727 – 13 March 1773), sometimes spelled Commerçon by contemporaries, was a French naturalist, best known for accompanying Louis Antoine de Bougainville on his voyage of circumnavigation in 1766–1769.

Pierre-Antoine Véron

Pierre-Antoine Véron (1736–1770) was a French astronomer and mathematician. He was a disciple of astronomer and writer Jérôme Lalande at the Collège Royal. Véron is famous for having made a historical observation of the size of the Pacific Ocean. Together with Philibert Commerson, Véron was one of the main scientists that accompanied Louis Antoine de Bougainville on his voyage of exploration. He died of illness in Timor in 1770.

Puerto Soledad

Puerto Soledad (Puerto de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, English: Port Solitude) was a Spanish military outpost and penal colony on the Falkland Islands, situated at an inner cove of Berkeley Sound (French: Baie Accaron, Spanish: Bahía Anunciación).

Quessant Island

Quessant (Tariwerwi or Ouessant) is an uninhabited island in the Louisiade Archipelago. Politically, it is part of Milne Bay Province in southeastern Papua New Guinea. Quessant is located 30 km southeast of Wari on the northeastern border of the coastal reef. The coral island is low and covered with delicious vegetation. Three reefs are located between Quessant and the Stuers Islands, about 16 km to the northwest.

Louis Antoine de Bougainville discovered the island on June 17, 1768 and named them for their resemblance to Ushant, the French island near Brest, the starting point of his circumnavigation.


Ravahere is an atoll of the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia. It is located 53 km northwest of Nengonengo Atoll and it is separated by a 2 km sound from Marokau Atoll, its closest neighbor to the north.

Marokau and Ravahere form a minor subgroup of the Tuamotus known as the Two Groups Islands.

Ravahere Atoll is roughly boomerang-shaped. It measures 20 km in length with a maximum width of 9.5 km. The shallow lagoon has a surface area of 57.5 km², but there is no pass to enter it.

Ravahere is permanently uninhabited.

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