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Fleet of Montmorency, led by Augustin de Beaulieu, in the East Indies, 1619-1622.

Augustin de Beaulieu (1589–1637) was a French general of the 17th century, who in 1619 was put in charge of an armed expedition to the East Indies composed of three ships (275 crews, 106 cannons) and called the "Fleet of Montmorency", after its sponsor the Admiral Montmorency.[1]


Born at Rouen, Augustin de Beaulieu studied science and navigation.[2] and made a few other expeditions before the 1619 one, and, in 1612, he had sailed to Gambia.[2][3] In 1616 he participated to an expedition to the east as captain of a small ship in the fleet led by Captain De Nets.[3]

Augustin de Beaulieu would again sail for the east in 1619. The fleet was sent from Honfleur, with the objective of fighting the Dutch in the Far East and establishing trade with the sponsorship of traders from Rouen and Paris.[2] Beaulieu made a noted description of Cape Town, the year it was occupied by England.[4] The fleet visited Aceh, an experience which allowed Beaulieu to write one of the best accounts of Aceh in the early 17th century.[2] Beaulieu met with Sultan Iskander Muda (1607–36) to obtain a trading license and the agreement to establish a factory.[2]

They encountered the Dutch fleet off Sumatra. One ship was captured, another remained in Asia for inter-country trade, and the third returned to Le Havre in 1622. Finally in 1624, with the Treaty of Compiègne, Richelieu obtained an agreement with the Dutch to cease fighting in the East.[1][5]

Augustin de Beaulieu advocated a French settlement on the island of Madagascar but Richelieu would refrain from the adventure for fear of annoying the Dutch. It was only in 1665, with the establishment of the Compagnie des Indes Orientales, that a proper attempt would be made to settle the island. Beaulieu wrote in 1631-32:

I find the island [Madagascar] proper, once we are established there, for adventures to any place in the East Indies... for from the said place at the due season Persia can be reached... where a very usefull and important trade can be established... And when the said trade with Persia is inconvenient, that with the countries of the Great Moghul, Ceylon, Masulipatam, Bengal, Pegu, Kedda, Achin, Tiku and Bantam can easily be followed"

—Augustin de Beaulieu, 1631-32.[6]

Augustin de Beaulieu later participated to the Siege of La Rochelle in the Royal fleet in 1627-28, as well as in the capture of Sainte-Marguerite island.[7]

He died of influenza in Toulon in 1637.

See also

  • France-Asia relations


  • Mémoires d'un voyage aux Indes orientales, 1619-1622


  1. 1.0 1.1 Asia in the Making of Europe, Volume III: A Century of Advance. Book 1 Donald F. Lach p.398 [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 First globalization: the Eurasian exchange, 1500 to 1800 Geoffrey C. Gunn p.156 [2]
  3. 3.0 3.1 Cambridge geographical series p.60
  4. Cape Town: the making of a city : an illustrated social history Nigel Worden p.12 [3]
  5. Asia in the Making of Europe, Volume III: A Century of Advance. Book 1 by Donald F. Lach p.93-94 [4]
  6. The Cambridge history of the British Empire, p.62
  7. A new general biographical dictionary by Hugh James Rose p.439

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