Born in Saint Malo in 1699, Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais (1699–1753) started his illustrious career as a ship boy in the navy at the age of ten. Later appointed Governor of Île de France (present-day Mauritius) by the French East India Company in 1735, he arrived in Mauritius aged 36. His first job was to transfer the capital from Grand Port (present-day Mahébourg) to Port Louis, which was more sheltered and had a superior harbour. He also started an eleven-year development and construction programme to provide the colony with a road network and develop its agriculture, and waged war against the maroons (deserting slaves). Under his energetic leadership, Port Louis emerged as a vibrant city, with a well-planned grid of streets, workshops and houses. Proper quays, warehouses, fortifications and a shipyard made it the safest port in the Mascarenes and a popular port of call. Along with Pierre Poivre, Mahé de La Bourdonnais did more for the development of the island than any of his predecessors or successors.

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29 Apr 2013 • Site Editor insert_drive_file Article
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