Plan, De, L'Attaque, Des, Retranchemens Et Du Fort De Mahé; Le Iie. Et Le Iiie, Decembre. M.DCC.XXV.
1725 (dated) 9.25 x 30 in (23.495 x 76.2 cm)
1 : 11000
A remarkable c. 1726 finely executed manuscript map illustrating the 1725 pirate capture, betrayal, and recapture of the French East India Company Fort Mahé, Malabar (Kerala), India. Centered on the main fortification, the map is oriented to the northeast and follows the Malarbar Coast from roughly modern-day Parimadam to modern-day Thayyil Kudumba Kshethram. While the fortifications do not survive, some of the original streets have found their way into the modern city plan. In the upper left a legend detailed important defensive works and positions during the siege.
The French MalabarWhen the British East India Company began expanding into western India from their fortress in Bombay in an effort to dominate the globally important Pepper Trade, the competing French East Indian Company (Compagnie Française pour le commerce des Indes Orientales), based in Pondicherry, decided it too needed a defensive bastion on the western coast of the subcontinent. The merchant and officer André Mollandin subsequently established a 1721 treaty with Raja Vazhunnavar of Vatakara, a Malabar pirate king. Vazhunnavar ceded the company a defensible strip of Malabar coast at the mouth of the Mayyazhi River, which the French shortened to Mahé. The French East India Company began constructing a fort on the sight in 1724.
1725 Siege of MahéIn 1725, shortly after the initial construction was completed, Raja Vazhunnavar betrayed the French and, with the support of the British, seized the fort. French forces immediately retaliated under the leadership of the legendary Bertrand-Francois Mahé de La Bourdonnais (1699 - 1753), who recaptured the fort in short order - as depicted here. Mahé was subsequently traded back and forth in various wars between British and French overlords until, neglected during the French Revolution, the city became permanently British in 1785.
Lubertus Van GerrevinkThe paper is watermarked 'LBV' referencing the papermaking firm of Lubertus Van Gerrevink. Lubertus and his brother Joachim established their paper mill in Egmond aan den Hoef in 1691. The quality of the paper was so high that it quickly became desirable throughout Europe and the Americas. Thomas Jefferson famously used LVG paper when composing the preliminary draft of the Virginia Constitution. The final LVG papers were issued around 1819, but his true legacy is in his apprentice, James Whatman (1702 - 1759), who invented woven paper.
Publication History and CensusThis map, being a manuscript, is unique, but at least two other hand drawn maps from this event survive - both different and both in French institutions. The maker is unknown, but the map is on watermarked LVG (Lubbert van Gerrevink) paper.
Very good. Slight staining left side. Manuscript.