Binot Paulmier de Gonneville

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Binot Paulmier de Gonneville.

Binot Paulmier, sieur de Gonneville, French navigator of the early 16th century, was widely believed in 17th and 18th century France to have been the true discoverer of the Terra Australis.[1] Currently, many French historians and authors propose that Paulmier's trip was in fact a fictional tale.[2][3]

According to the tale, in 1503 de Gonneville, challenging the Portuguese policy of mare clausum, sailed from Honfleur in Normandy with his crew and the help of two Portuguese pilots, heading for the East Indies. When he reached the Cape of Good Hope his ship L'Espoir (The Hope) was diverted to an unknown land by a storm. In 1505 he returned claiming to have discovered the "great Austral land," which he also called the "Indies Meridionale." According to de Gonneville, he had stayed six months in this idyllic place, where the inhabitants didn't have to work because of the riches. De Gonneville stated that this land was six weeks' sail east of the Cape of Good Hope.

De Gonneville's tale was first mentioned only 160 years after it allegedly took place, in 1663, when Jean Paulmier de Courtonne, Canon of the Church of Saint-Pierre at Lisieux, a relative of de Gonneville's, published a book called Memoirs Concerning the Establishment of a Christian Mission in the Austral Land, in which he claimed to be the great-grandson of an "Indian" brought back to France by de Gonneville in 1505.

De Courtonne's claims struck a chord at a time when French patriotism was offended at the success of the Dutch and the English in making new discoveries in the South Pacific. De Gonneville's tales were fomented as the basis of a French claim over these new lands. This belief grew in the 18th century and led to French expeditions such as those of Bouvet, Bougainville, and Kerguelen.

In 1992, Leyla Perrone Moisés proposed that the lands that Gonneville discovered and that been presumed to be the legendary Terra Australis (or as had also been proposed, Madagascar) were in fact part of the coast of Brazil on and around Santa Catarina Island, and that the inhabitants he encountered, one of whom, Iça-Mirim (whose name the French rendered as Essomericq) was taken back to France and married Gonneville's daughter, were Carijó Indians.[4] Moisés, a Literature professor, did specify, however, that there was no historical proof to the trip even having taken place.[5]


  1. ^ Sankey, Margaret (2013). "2". In West-Sooby, John (ed.). "The Ahhe Paulmier’s Mémoires and Early Freneh Voyages in Search of Terra Australis." Discovery and Empire: The French in the South Seas. University of Adelaide Press. p. 41. ISBN 9781922064523. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Le voyage de Gonneville : un défi à l'historiographie - Publications numériques du CÉRÉdI". Retrieved 2019-10-13.
  3. ^ Ouest-France (2014-12-23). "Binot Paulmier a-t-il accosté au Brésil ?". (in French). Retrieved 2019-10-13.
  4. ^ Leyla Perrone Moisés, Vinte Luas: Viagem de Paulmier de Gonneville ao Brasil, 1503-1505, Companhia das Letras, São Paulo, 1992; Leyla Perrone-Moisés, Le voyage de Gonneville (1503-1505): et la découverte de la Normandie par les Indiens du Brésil, traduits par Ariane Witkowski, Paris, Editions Chandeigne, 1995.
  5. ^ "Le voyage de Gonneville : un défi à l'historiographie - Publications numériques du CÉRÉdI". Retrieved 2019-10-13.