Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Raousset De Bourbon, after Louis Paradis De La Roche1746

Kalakriti Archives

Kalakriti Archives

A beautifully executed original contemporary manuscript map depicting the Fall of Madras (1746), a great French victory over the British East India Company.

This exquisite, yet unfinished, manuscript map was prepared by a French officer to illustrate the Fall of Madras, which represented the worst defeat the British would endure India during the 18th Century. During the First Carnatic War (1746-1748), the first widespread conflict that pitted France against Britain for colonial dominance over India, French forces managed to besiege and quickly conquer Madras (Chennai), one of the EIC’s three most important bases in India.

The French forces under the Marquis Dupleix, the Governor of French India, backed by a naval force under the Comte de La Bourdonnais, attacked Madras on the morning of September 7, 1746. The modest British garrison of only 300 men was poorly prepared and it was also soon revealed that Madras’ defenses were poorly constructed, as they crumbled with each salvo. When Fort St. George’s liquor warehouse was hit, many of the dispirited British troops availed themselves of libations and were rendered unfit for combat. Realizing that his predicament was hopeless, on September 9, the British surrendered Fort St. George, the city’s main defensive structure, to Bourdonnais, although the city was not fully occupied by the French until some days later.

This unfinished map was drafted by a French nobleman, Monsieur de Raousset de Bourbon, who was an Officer of the Regiment of French Guards. It is based on the reconnaissance surveys of Louis Paradis de la Roche, the highly skilled engineer who previously designed the defensive system for Mahé (see no. 27). As the intended key on the map was never filled in, the action can be interpreted through a printed edition of Paradis’s map of the Fall of Madras (see no. 40).

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  • Title: Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  • Creator: Raousset De Bourbon, after Louis Paradis De La Roche
  • Date Published: 1746
  • Location Created: Madras
  • Physical Dimensions: 46.1 x 61 cm
  • Type: Document
  • Medium: Manuscript, pen and ink with red wash on paper
  • Title (Original): Untitled Map of Madras, but featuring the dedication: “Dedié A Madame La Comtesee de Bourbon Par son tres humble, tres Obessant Serviteur et Petit Fils. De Raousset de Bourbon Officier au Regiment des Guardes Françoises.”