The first Portuguese explorers found no indigenous people living on the island in 1507. The island of Mauritius was the only home of the Dodo bird. The bird became extinct fewer than eighty years after its discovery. The Dutch settled on the island in 1598 and abandoned it in 1710, Mauritius became a French colony in 1715 and was renamed Isle de France. The British took control of Mauritius in 1810 during the Napoleonic Wars. The country became an independent state as a Commonwealth realm on 12 March 1968 and a republic within the Commonwealth on 12 March 1992.
The operation was the culmination of two years of conflict over the island and the neighbouring Île Bourbon between frigate squadrons commanded by Josias Rowley and Jacques Hamelin. Hamelin repeatedly raided British trade convoys and Rowley responded with amphibious assaults on French harbours, but neither had gained ascendancy by the time Rowley sent most of his force to attack the port of Grand Port on Île de France in August 1810. At the ensuing battle the British squadron was destroyed and Hamelin began to blockade Rowley on Île Bourbon. As British reinforcements were urgently despatched, several actions were fought between recently arrived British ships and the more numerous French forces. At the last of these on 18 September 1810, Hamelin was defeated and captured by Rowley. This allowed Rowley to build his forces over the next two months until they were sufficient for a successful invasion, which was led by the recently arrived Admiral Albemarle Bertie.
La Bourdonnais was born on 11 February 1699 in Saint-Malo, Brittany. He went to sea when a boy, and in 1718 entered the service of the French East India Company as a lieutenant. In 1724 he was promoted captain, and displayed such bravery in the capture of Mahé off the Malabar Coast that the name of the town was added to his own. For two years he was in the service of the PortugueseViceroy of Goa, but in 1735 he returned to French service as governor of the Île de France (Mauritius) and the Île de Bourbon (Réunion). 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.