These letters are dated 18thI century and French sailors were sent there, which were intercepted and seized by the British during the Seven Years’ War. Never opened, stored in British archives, they sank into oblivion, until a historian brought them out of their deep slumber. What these epistolary exchanges from other times reveal is the universality and timelessness of feelings as well as the depth and intimacy of family ties.

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They never reached their recipients: letters written in the 18thI The Century has finally been opened to French sailors during the Seven Years’ War between France and Great Britain, providing testimony that is both intimate and historic. A letter from an officer’s wife, another letter from a mother who was repeatedly chiding her son for not writing to her…these letters were confiscated by the police. Royal Navy During the war, which particularly opposed the British and French around their colonial possessions between 1756 and 1763.

, I would love to spend the whole night writing to you (…), your lifelong faithful wife. good evening my friend. It’s midnight. I think it’s time to rest », for example, in 1758 Marie Dubois wrote to her husband Louis Chamberlain, first lieutenant of the French warship Galatea, which had been captured by the British. Louis never received the letter from his wife, who died the following year, probably before his release.

In another letter, dated January 27, 1758, Marguerite Lemoyne, mother of sailor Nicolas Quesnel, originally from Normandy, regrets not having heard more from her son. , I think about you more than you (…) Finally, I wish you a Happy New Year full of God’s blessings », he told her in a letter that was undoubtedly written to a third party. But Galatea, which had departed from Bordeaux for Quebec, was captured in the Atlantic and taken to Plymouth, on the south coast of England, and then finally to Portsmouth. These letters followed the ship from port to port until they were captured, before reaching England.

These love letters never reached their recipients and were never read for three centuries. © Euronews

Expression of deep family ties and universal emotions

These 104 letters, initially considered documents of military interest, were eventually transferred to the British National Archives, where they were forgotten in a box until they attracted the attention of Renaud Morieux, professor of history at the University of Cambridge. Did. , I had asked to see this box just out of curiosity.Say the researchers, whose findings were published Tuesday in the journal History. History, Social Sciences, I realized that I was the first person to read these private messages,” Grouped into three piles and tied together by ribbon,

, Their recipients were not so lucky and it was very touching “, he said, these letters contain ” universal human experience “. Written primarily by women, they testify to the experience of these wives, mothers and fiancées in wartime, forced to run the household alone and make decisions in the absence of men.

Renaud Morieux identified each of the 181 members of the frigate Galatea, a quarter of whom were the recipients of these letters, and also conducted genealogical research on the sailors and authors of the letters. In 1758, approximately one third of 60,000 French sailors were imprisoned in Great Britain. And over the entire duration of the Seven Years’ War, won by a coalition led by Great Britain and Prussia, 65,000 people were detained by the British. Some died of disease and malnutrition, while others were eventually released.

During this time, letters were the only way their families tried to contact them. , today we have zoom or WhatsAppWhatsApp, in the 18th centuryI century, people only had letters, but what they wrote still resonates very familiarly today », the researcher estimates.

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