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When Ferdinand Magellan first discovered Guam and the Marianas in 1521, he named the islands the ‘Islands of Sails’ but soon renamed them the ‘Islands Ladrones’ (Island of Thieves) after a misunderstanding led to one of his ships, the Trinidad, … Read Full Description
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When Ferdinand Magellan first discovered Guam and the Marianas in 1521, he named the islands the ‘Islands of Sails’ but soon renamed them the ‘Islands Ladrones’ (Island of Thieves) after a misunderstanding led to one of his ships, the Trinidad, being raided by a group of local Chamorro people who believed that they were engaging in a trade. Despite Magellan’s discovery of the island, Guam was not claimed for the Spanish until 1565 and subsequently became an important transit and supply port for the Manila galleons on their voyages between Manila and Acapulco. The first colonisation occurred in 1668 with the founding of a Catholic mission by the Jesuit Padre Diego Luis de San Vitores. Louis Claude de Freycinet visited the islands shortly after the halt of the Manila galleon trade due to the Mexican Revolution of 1815 and he wrote critically about the economic depression and poverty that had occurred as a result. Freycinet accomplished one of the most thorough scientific and historical studies of Guam of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, adding to existing historical accounts by interviewing the local Chamorro and Spanish people. He published the first hydrographic survey of all fifteen islands within the Marianas archipelago in 1826 after leading the famous Uranie voyage.
Louis Claude de Saulces de Freycinet (1779 - 1841)
Louis de Freycinet (1779-1841) Freycinet made the published the first map to show a full outline of the coastline of Australia. He was in command of the Uranie, which left Toulon on 17 September 1817. His wife Rose had been smuggled aboard, and her presence was acknowledged by the time they reached Gibraltar. They made the usual French passage via Tenerife, Rio, the Cape of Good Hope and Mauritius, where Louis was reunited briefly with his brother Henri, then serving as the Governor. The Uranie reached Shark Bay on 12 September 1818 and spent some time there, setting up an observatory and making further thorough surveys of the inlets and coast; it was during this visit that Freycinet also finally removed the Vlamingh plate. From Western Australia they headed to Coupang in Timor, and crossed to Dili, where the expedition was received in great state by the Governor. The vessel then picked its way northeast via Amboina, Pisang, Rawak and the coast of New Guinea, reaching Guam in mid-March 1819. The expedition stayed in Guam for eleven weeks before heading to Hawaii, which was first sighted on 5 August; they anchored in Kealakekua Bay three days later. They spent an important fortnight in the islands, making stays at Lahaina and Honolulu, and meeting any number of important figures there. From Honolulu they headed towards New South Wales, passing Samoa and the Cook Islands and naming “Rose Island”, which Freycinet erroneously thought a new discovery. They anchored in Port Jackson on 18 November, and spent a busy month in the bustling town, the growth of which astonished Freycinet. All of his savants set off to make surveys, including the important group of Quoy, Pellion and Gaudichaud, who crossed the Blue Mountains. It became a hectic social visit for Louis and Rose, who were fêted by Sydney society, and who cemented friendships with local luminaries like Barron Field and William Bland. The visit confirmed Freycinet’s interest in the region, which he would later make the subject of a detailed section in his voyage account. Leaving Port Jackson on Christmas Day, Freycinet sailed around the southern coast of New Zealand, making a fast passage to Cape Horn, where boisterous weather drove him into the southern Atlantic, and he made the decision to make urgently-needed repairs to the Uranie at “French Bay” (now Berkeley Sound) on the eastern coast of the Falklands. While entering the harbour on 14 February 1820 he struck submerged rocks, compelling him to beach the vessel, which was found to be irreparably damaged. Salvaging as much as they could from the wreck, the French set about sending a longboat to Montevideo for assistance, but before they could the sealing vessel General Knox, Captain Horn, came into sight. Reluctant negotiations were begun but before an agreement was reached, another vessel the Mercury, Captain Galvin, arrived, and it was on this second vessel that a passage to Rio de Janeiro was booked. Conflict between the French and the existing passengers, a group of Chilean rebels, meant that the deal changed, and Freycinet actually purchased the Mercury and agreed to disembark Galvin and the Chileans in Montevideo. On 8 May Freycinet took command, immediately and renamed the ship the Physicienne, and it was on this vessel that the expedition returned to Le Havre on 13 November 1820, after around three years at sea. Freycinet spent the next two decades co-ordinating and writing the official narrative of the voyage.
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