Part of the Island of Aix, off Rochefort in Charente-Maritime, the frigate remained infamous for his sinking July 2, 1816 and his raft immortalized by Géricault. Two hundred years after the tragedy, the National Maritime Museum of Rochefort commemorates this tragic epic.
On 2 July 1816 the French frigate the was sinking, running aground on the sandbank of Arguin, off the coast of present Mauritania. His famous raft, immortalized three years later on a huge canvas by Géricaul, helped feed the mythology surrounding this incident which terrified and fasccina French citizens then. A table in the Salon of 1819, one of the most famous in the world today.
Two hundred years later, the National Maritime Museum of Rochefort, in Charente-Maritime, decided to commemorate the bicentennial of the Medusa and the tragic epic of his raft, which had piled up 150 passengers, only 15 survived. special tours, performances and concerts are scheduled throughout the months of July and August to remember the event.
A trip that quickly turns to tragedy
It’s off Rochefort, on the island of Aix, that La Medusa is the paired June 17, 1816. The frigate must reach Saint-Louis, Senegal. This is repossessed, the name of Louis XVIII, countertops thrilled by England to France under the Empire and retroceded by the Treaties of Paris of 1814 and 1815. A new governor, accompanied by officials, are expected on the spot. But the trip quickly turns to tragedy …
At the head of the ship, Hugues Duroy de Chaumareys, noble emigrated to the Revolution, resumes after navigation twenty-eight without having set foot in the sea. So La Medusa should sail alongside three other French vessels, he finally decided, six days after the start, not to wait for other boats and continue his only route to Senegal. With 400 passengers on board.
A raft adrift
Mal took him. July 2, 1816, The Medusa fails during this escapade. Then began the construction of a raft the next day to try to complete the journey. On 5 July, the ship was abandoned. Chaumareys, Governor of Senegal and the most senior officials take place in the boats the edge. 150 other passengers, mostly soldiers, crowded together on the towed raft.
But the boats are overloaded. The decision is taken, perhaps by order of Chaumareys, let derive the skiff, already half submerged. It remains in all and for all but two barrels of water and wine for all five men on board. The first deaths occur: some are carried away by the waves, others injured by planks of the raft and the sick are thrown into the water. Drunk, frightened at the idea of their end approaching, heavy fighting taking place, increasing the number of dead and wounded. At deprivation of power, some men eventually eat each other, digging out corpses remained on the raft.
A shipwrecked rooted in memories
hello finally arrives July 17, two weeks after the sinking. One of the parties France ships with La Medusa see the raft. Only 15 survivors are still alive, but covered with wounds and sunburned. Five still die before they regained the coast.
A year later, the Chaumareys captain was tried and sentenced to three years in prison. Following the trial, the sinking of the story is published and is very successful. The paint Théodore Géricault, fascinated also by this incident, met two survivors realize a model of the raft by the ship’s carpenter and started for two years, to restore to brushstroke this terrible event, still rooted in memories two hundred years later.
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