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22th May, 1724 was born explorer Mark Marion Dufresne

On the 22d of May, 1724 in French Saint-Malo was born Mark Marion Dufresne. In those days in this city nearly every man was a sailor. So Mark was no exception. From the age of eleven, he worked on one of the ships of the French East India Company, in which a respectable share of capital was owned by his father.

At age of 21 Dufresne commanded a French warship in the struggle of the Austrian Succession. Then he took part in the Seven Years War, where he earned fame of a talented and determined officer. During the Asian campaign, which was carried out in France during the Seven Years War, Marc Dufresne was in the Indian Ocean as a commander of a warship. After the end of hostilities he settled in Mauritius. Topographic map shows that it is an island nation located in the south- western Indian Ocean in East Africa.

In 1771 two vessels went on an expedition to explore the unexplored areas of the Indian Ocean and to search for the "southern continent". During the voyage he discovered and mapped the islands of Crozet, named after his assistant. Geographic map shows that this archipelago consists of six uninhabited volcanic islands in the Indian Ocean. Dufresne also discovered and mapped the Prince Edward Island, which are home to seals, penguins and seabirds. These are two small volcanic islands, one of which is named in honor of Marion Dufresne.

Travellers proceeded along the coast of Tasmania, and in spring 1772 were in New Zealand, whose territory Dufresne declared as possession of the French crown. Dufresne romanticized the life of the natives, believing that the savages are endowed with moral purity. Therefore he forbade his team to conflict with Maori, despite the fact that they occasionally stole various items and weapons.

Once Dufresne together with 25 members of the expedition went fishing in the bay Manavaora and got ambushed by Maori. After a bloody massacre only one person managed to escape. The same night, the savages attacked the camp. Europeans quickly repulsed and captured the village, where they found the remains of their comrades, whose bodies were eaten by the natives, cannibals.

After learning about the tragic death of members of the expedition, France decided to postpone the colonization of New Zealand.

This Day in History 22-05-2014