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nat4b
10 November 2023, 09:38

More than 100 letters of French sailors were accidentally found in the National Archives in London

More than 100 letters of French sailors were accidentally found in the National Archives in London
More than 100 letters written by relatives and friends to French sailors captured by the British 265 years ago have been found at the National Archives in London.

The letters date from the tumultuous period of the mid-18th century, when France and Britain were engaged in a fierce naval struggle, competing for control of trade routes and colonial territories.

The infatuation of French sailors with the British navy was not uncommon in that era, and the newly discovered letters are personal, often passionate and even intimate messages. Their addressees are the crew of the French warship Galatea, which was captured by the British in 1758 during the Seven Years' War.
Source: The National Archives/Renaud Morieux
Source: The National Archives/Renaud Morieux
This correspondence reveals a spectrum of emotions ranging from anxiety and despair to hope and resilience. Many letters are filled with sincere expressions of concern for the captured sailors and fervent pleas for their release. Descriptions of the difficulties faced by families struggling with the uncertainty and absence of their loved ones are vividly portrayed in the eloquent prose of the time.

The box with the letters was commissioned by the professor of European history at the University of Cambridge, Renaud Maurier, at the National Archives in London. He saw three stacks of letters held together with tape and asked the archivists to open them to find out the contents.

According to Maurier, having established that the correspondence contained nothing of military value, the British authorities hid the entire correspondence. And so it happened that she was forgotten forever.
Source: The National Archives/Renaud Morieux
Source: The National Archives/Renaud Morieux
The discovery of these letters underscores the importance of studying and preserving historical documents, including letters, and making them available to researchers and the public.

Source: theguardian.com

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