The great men and corsairs of Saint Malo

The town of Saint-Malo is one of the richest sites in history in the Emerald Coast region of Brittany. It has known famous men who have marked its history and its civilization.

These men participated in the construction of the city of Saint-Malo. Who are they ? What connects them? Discover this panorama on the great men who are part of the history of the city of Saint-Malo.

What characterizes the great men of Saint-Malo

The city of Saint-Malo is known to have sheltered several families of corsairs. The trade was flourishing in the region. This is due to the fact that she was at war with English and Dutch ships.

The corsairs therefore had authorization from the king to track down foreign ships, unlike the pirate of Saint-Malo. Some corsairs were famous because of their performance and their reputations.

Moreover, the city of Saint-Malo has known great explorers. The latter leave their native land to discover unknown lands. Generally, the objective of these explorers was to:

  • Discover new worlds
  • Travel the oceans to make new discoveries.

On the other hand, the city of Saint-Malo has also known writers. In addition, he knew famous politicians. They were not necessarily all from the region.

The writers were inspired by their own experiences in the region. They were also inspired by its beauty and history. Politicians participated in the construction of the Corsair city. They also marked it.

The most famous corsairs of Saint-Malo

Saint-Malo’s most famous corsairs hail from the city. Today, it is not uncommon to come across statues of these Saint-Malo corsairs in Saint-Malo intramural.

René Duguay-Trouin: one of the wealthy Saint-Malo shipowners

Duguay-Trouin is a privateer from Saint-Malo who quickly rose through the ranks in his career. This is due to the performance on board Saint-Malo ships. They were the best during the last two wars fought under Louis XIV.

Duguay-Trouin was born in 1673 in Saint-Malo. He made his first experience with a privateer ship at the age of 14. Then, he became a privateer captain at the age of 18. At 33, he was captain general of the coasts of Saint-Malo. Louis XIV granted him the title of lieutenant-general of the naval armies. He died in 1736.

Today, Duguay-Trouin has a statue near the Quai Saint-Louis in Saint-Malo. Visitors to the region observe it during walks on the ramparts of the Corsair city. They find a second statue of the famous corsair at the Saint-Malo History Museum. This statue is carved in marble.

The most famous maritime exploits of Duguay-Trouin are:

  • The capture of Rio de Janeiro for restitution for a ransom of sugar and gold
  • The capture of more than 3,000 merchant ships
  • The capture of more than 16 warships.

Robert Surcouf: the famous king of corsairs

Robert Surcouf is known to have been the king of the Saint-Malo corsairs and the cousin of René Duguay-Trouin. He is also known for his pursuit of English merchant ships on the seas of Europe and India.

He became king of the privateers for capturing Kent. It is a ship of the British East India Company.

This famous king of corsairs was born in Saint-Malo intramural. He lived between 1773 and 1827. He took his first steps on a ship at the age of 13. He was a corsair captain and a member of the Legion of Honor.

In addition, he ended his career being one of the most important shipowners in Saint-Malo. This is due to the fact that he became a maritime trader and remained the owner of privateer ships.

The city of Saint-Malo presents a bronze statue of Robert Surcouf in the Cavalier garden. This statue is found in front of the Grand Bé and the Petit Bé.

The great explorers and navigators of Saint-Malo

The explorers and navigators of Saint-Malo enabled the discovery of the lands which surrounded the region and elsewhere. The best known are Jacques CARTIER and Marc-Joseph MARION DU FRESNE.

Jacques Cartier: the discoverer of Canada

Jacques Cartier is a famous navigator, explorer and writer from Saint-Malo. He is considered the most famous sailor of the Renaissance era in France. Indeed, he lived between 1494 and 1557.

It is known to have marked the beginnings of the colonization of New France. One of his great discoveries was the region of Quebec in 1534. He named it Canada.

Apart from the discovery of Canada, he is known to have sailed up the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in 1535. He made this exploration on St. Lawrence’s Day. In addition, he is the author of the appearance of this river on the maps of the world.

He was also responsible for describing the life of the Indians who live in the Northeast of North America.

Jacques Cartier ended his career by retiring to Rothéneuf. He lived in the manor of Limoëlou. This manor is the only legacy he left to the Malouins. However, he had time to put his knowledge at the service of the commune. He was a sailor, master pilot and captain of a ship.

Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne: the famous frigate lieutenant of Saint-Malo

Marc-Joseph MARION DU FRESNE is a frigate lieutenant. He was a famous explorer and navigator of Saint-Malo in the XVIIIth century. Indeed, he lived between 1724 and 1772. His most famous discoveries are:

  • Marion Island
  • The Crozet archipelago
  • Prince Edward Island in South Africa

The great writers of Saint-Malo

Several writers have been inspired by the city of Saint-Malo in their work. There are for example Colette, Anthony Doerr, Oliver Adam and Chateaubriand. The latter is the best known of these writers. His real name François René de Chateaubriand, he lived between 1728 and 1848.

François René de Chateaubriand is a well-known writer and politician in Saint-Malo. He was born in this city and lived there part of his life. He traced his childhood in his great work.

This is the work Memories from beyond the grave. This work speaks of his social environment which is located between the castle of Combourg and Saint-Malo in Brittany.

Today, some sites in Saint-Malo owe their names to the writer François René de Chateaubriand. For example, there is the Hotel de France and Chateaubriand. There is also 3 Rue de Chateaubriand. Born there, Chateaubriand is buried on the island of Grand Bé after his death in Paris in 1848.

Saint-Maclou: the man everyone living in Saint-Malo should know

Saint-Maclou or Saint-Malo is one of the great men of the city of Saint-Malo that all Malouins must know. Indeed, the city owes its name to this man. It represents one of the seven saints who are known as founders of Brittany in France. He lived between the years 487 and 565.

Saint-Maclou was a Welsh exile on the island of Cézembre. Then he was the first bishop of Aleth. He left the site to join Saint-Aaron. The latter was located on a rock which was not inhabited in front of Aleth. This rocky islet later became Saint-Malo.

The great men of Saint-Malo are famous men from this town in Brittany. They marked history by being corsairs, explorers, navigators, politicians or writers.


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