Talk on Austin, Texas: French Legation and the shipwreck of La Belle

Talk on Austin, Texas: French Legation and the shipwreck of La Belle | 01/10/2021 | 10:30 am-11:30 am

Talk on Austin, Texas: French Legation and the shipwreck of La Belle

Join us at the library for this free and interesting talk!

The library is honored to offer a talk by Kyle Walker, a historian from the Texas Historical Commission, who will share with us the story of the French Legation :

The French Legation State Historic Site in Austin began in 1841 as a private home for France’s representative to the Republic of Texas, Alphonse Dubois, after the French monarch officially recognized the Republic of Texas as a sovereign nation. Dubois was promoted to “chargé d’affaires,” a diplomat who headed an embassy in the absence of the ambassador, and established an official legation in Texas. Construction began in September 1840 and was finished in the spring of 1841, but by the time of its completion, Dubois had left Austin after the incident known as the “Pig War.” The house went through a series of owners, including the Catholic Church, before it was purchased by Dr. Joseph Robertson in 1848. The Robertson family was the last and longest private owners of the property, which remained with their descendants until it was sold to the State of Texas in 1949. The state then placed the site under the custodianship of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas who operated the site as a house museum from 1956-2017.  In 2017 the Texas Legislature transferred custodianship of the site to the Texas Historical Commission who undertook an extensive restoration of the historic home in 2019. The historic structure and landscape provide a cultural destination where people from the surrounding neighborhoods continue to gather on common ground. 

and the fascinating shipwreck of La Belle:  

The 17th century French shipwreck La Belle is one of the most significant stories in early Texas history. René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, set sail for the Mississippi River in 1684 to claim new territory for France but the ship instead sailed into Matagorda Bay, only to sink in 1686 where it was found 300 years later. The ship underwent an extraordinary excavation and preservation process beginning in 1995. Although La Salle’s expedition ended in failure, his foray into Texas had lasting impacts for centuries to follow.  His entry into the Gulf of Mexico sparked renewal of Spanish interest in the region.  The failed French colony gave France a claim to Texas and resulted in increased Spanish settlement of the territory resulting in the founding of Spanish missions like the Alamo and the city of San Antonio.  After a lengthy preservation process, La Belle is now on display in the Texas State History Museum for visitors to learn about the ship that changed Texas history.  

Location: Bibliothèque Anglophone