The St Jean-Baptiste expedition sailed at a crucial time in Pacific exploration. The voyages of Bougainville and Wallis had just ended, James Cook's first voyage had just begun. Jean-FranÃ§ois-Marie de Surville entered the Pacific by way of the Philippines, made landfall in the Solomons, sailed to New Zealand, where he narrowly missed encountering Cook's Endeavour, and crossed the southern Pacific to the coast of Peru where he met his death in an attempt to obtain help for his decimated crew. Professor Dumore has chosen the journals of Surville and his first officer, Guillaume Labé, to present a complementary two-man picture of the expedition, while also drawing from other journals and reports. In his Introduction, he analyses the aims of the voyage, the part played by the expedition in the rediscovery of the Solomon Islands, the contribution Surville and his officers made to our knowledge of pre-colonial Maori society, and the Spanish response to the arrival of a French ship in their coastal waters. He examines the question of the first religious service held in New Zealand and the problem of the mythical Davis Land. Above all, the Introduction and the journals provide a valuable picture of a Pacific expedition in the heroic period of exploration, of the men who took part in it and the difficulties and hardships they encountered. This edition, based on unpublished documents held in the French National Archives, adds a new dimension to our understanding of Pacific exploration and places the voyage in the broader perspective of continuing Anglo-French rivalry.
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