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Bertrand-François Mahé, count of La Bourdonnais or of Labourdonnais (in French: comte de La Bourdonnais) (Saint-Malo 1699 - Paris 1753) was a French naval officer and administrator, in the service of the French East India Company.
La Bourdonnais was born on February 11 1699 in Saint-Malo, Brittany. He went to sea when a boy, and in 1718 entered the service of the French India Company as a lieutenant. In 1724 he was promoted captain, and displayed such bravery in the capture of Mahe of 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 Ile de France (Mauritius) and the Ile de Bourbon (Reunion). 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.
He saved Mahe, relieved General Joseph François Dupleix at Pondicherry, defeated Lord 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 lle 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 on November 10 1753. The French government gave his widow a pension of 2400 livres.
La Bourdonnais left memoirs which were published by his grandson, a celebrated chess player, Count L. C. Mahe de la Bourdonnais (1795-1840).
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