French Empire > Ile Bourbon
The island of Ile Bourbon, also known as Réunion was first discovered by the Portuguese around 1507, possibly by the explorer Dom Pedro Mascarenhas who named the island chain the Mascarenes. Others believe the island was sighted on 9 February due to the island of Reunion being known as Santa Apolónia who is the patron saint of that day. Not much is known about the history of the island prior to this other than the Arab traders were familiar with the island and called it Dina Morgabin. The island is also possibly featured on a map from 1153 AD by Al Sharif el-Edrisi and also may have been visited by Swahili or Malay sailors. It is believed to have been uninhabited. Diogo Lopes de Sequeira is believed to have landed on the islands of Reunion and Rodrigues in 1509 on his expedition.
Over a hundred years later the Portuguese had hardly touched the island of Santa Apolonia and soon the island was claimed by the French Empire. The French would administer the island from the settlement of Port Louis in Mauritius. The first French claims to the island date from 1638 when François Cauche and Salomon Goubert visited the island in June of 1638. The island would be offically claimed for the French by Jacques Pronis in 1642 when he abandoned fourteen mutineers on the island that were previously on Madagascar. Eventually the convicts were returned back to France several years later and in 1649 the island would get its name of Ile-Bourbon from the French Royal House of Bourbon.
Colonization efforts would begin by 1665 when the French East India Company began sending colonists to inhabit and develop the island.
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