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Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais, by Antoine Graincourt

Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais (comte de La Bourdonnais) (11 February 1699 – 10 November 1753) was a French naval officer and administrator, in the service of the French East India Company.


Mahé de La Bourdonnais was born in Saint-Malo, Brittany. He went to sea when he was at the age of 10, and in 1718 entered the service of the French East India Company as a lieutenant. In 1724 he was promoted captain, and displayed bravery in the capture of Mahé off 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 Isle de France (now Mauritius) and the Île de Bourbon (Réunion). His first 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. Mahe de Labourdonnais was a famous person.

Surrender of the City of Madras in 1746 to de La Bourdonnais, by Jacques François Joseph Swebach

He saved Mahé, relieved General Dupleix at Pondicherry, defeated Edward 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 Isle de France, when he found that Dupleix had appointed a successor as governor. 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 speculation 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, aged 54, on 10 November 1753. The French government gave his widow a pension of 2400 livres.

Several places were named after him, including Mahé (Seychelles), Mahébourg (Mauritius) and two streets in Pondicherry: Labourdonnais street and Mahé de Labourdonnais street. Port Louis, Mauritius has a hotel which bears his name, the Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel and also a school bearing his name Lycée La Bourdonnais. La Bourdonnais left memoirs which were published by his grandson, a celebrated chess player, Count Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais (1795–1840). He also wrote Traité de la mâture des vaisseaux (Paris, 1723).


  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. Encyclopædia Britannica Cambridge University Press 


  • B.-F. Mahé de La Bourdonnais: Mémoires historiques de B.-F. Mahé de La Bourdonnais, gouverneur des îles de France et de la Réunion, recueillis et publiés par son petit-fils... (Cte A.-C. Mahé de La Bourdonnais).   Paris, 1890 (with a second edition (Paris,1898))


  • Histoire, ou éloge historique de M. Mahé de La Bourdonnais. [n. p.: n. d.]
  • Île Maurice: Mahé de La Bourdonnais: documents réunis par le comité du bi-centenaire de La Bourdonnais, 11 février 1899, avec des annotations par le comité des souvenirs historiques. (2 août 1899).   Port-Louis : E. Pezzani, 1899
  • Étienne Buisson: Le mirage de l'Inde: la dramatique existence d'un grand Français au XVIIIe siècle : Bertrand Mahé de La Bourdonnais.   Paris : Hachette, 1937.
  • Pierre Crépin: Mahé de La Bourdonnais, gouverneur général des îles de France et de Bourbon (1699–1753) ... .   Paris : Leroux, n. d.
  • Louis Ducrocq: Une ingratitude nationale: La Bourdonnais, gouverneur des îles de France et de Bourbon, 1735–1746.   Arras : Sueur-Charruey, 1902 (Reprinted from the Revue de Lille of August 1902)
  • Philippe Haudrère: La Bourdonnais: marin et aventurier.   Paris : Desjonquères, 1992   ISBN 2-904227-63-6
  • E. Herpin: Mahé de La Bourdonnais et la Compagnie des Indes.   Saint-Brieuc : R. Prud'homme, 1905
  • Alfred de Longpérier-Grimoard: Notice historique sur La Bourdonnais.   Paris, 1856
  • Huguette Ly Tio Fane-Pineo: Île de France, 1715–1746. Tome I. L'émergence de Port Louis .   Moka (Île Maurice) : Mahatma Gandhi Institute, 1993   ISBN 99903-39-00-7
  • Michel Missoffe: Dupleix et La Bourdonnais: essai critique.   Paris : Ligue maritime et coloniale, 1943
  • Dureau Reydellet: Mahé de La Bourdonnais, gouverneur des Mascareignes.   Saint-Denis: Éd. CNH, 1994  (Cahiers de notre histoire ; 45–46)   ISBN 2-909471-14-4
  • Louis Roubaud: La Bourdonnais.   Publication : Paris : Plon, 1932   (Les grandes figures coloniales ; 10)
  • Jackie Ryckebusch: Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais : entre les Indes et les Mascareignes.   Sainte-Clotilde : Éd. du CRI, 1989  (Collection: Figures)   ISBN 2-907017-05-5
  • Robert Surcouf: Souvenirs historiques sur Mahé de La Bourdonnais: le combat de La Hogue. Eloge de La Tour d'Auvergne. Portzmoguer (Primauguet).   Saint-Malo, 1886
  • Le Guide de Pondichéry. L'unique guide français de Pondichéry. Editions Presse Bureau 2008/2009. Pondicherry.
  • Pondicherry Heritage Trail. Published by INTACH, Pondicherry. December 2007.

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