Charles Cunat

Charles-Marie Cunat (Saint-Malo, 20 May 1789[1]Saint-Malo, 21 February 1862.[2]) was a French naval officer, privateer and naval historian.


Cunat started sailing at the age of 16 on the privateer Napoléon, on which he fought in two battles.[1] In 1808, he enlisted on the privateer Deux-Sœurs; during the campaign, he was appointed to the prize crew sent aboard a captured ship, which turned out to be so badly damaged that she had to make a port call in Tharangambadi for fear of sinking.[1] Cunat was taken prisoner and the British sent him to Puducherry.[1]

Released on parole in 1809, he returned to Mauritius. The year after, he enlisted as a chief gunner on the frigate Minerve, under Captain Bouvet.[1] He took part in all the battles of Minerve, and sustained two injuries at the shoulder and the eye.[1]

After the Invasion of Isle de France in late 1810, he returned to France, and obtained the rank of Ensign in 1811.[1] He was then appointed to a ship of the line in Antwerp. During the Siege of Antwerp in 1814, Bouvet fought ashore, leading a 25-man platoon.[1]

After the Bourbon Restoration, he settled in Mauritius, retired from the Navy, and became the ship-owner of the Latchimie[note 1] and sailed several journeys in the Indian Ocean.[2] In 1830, he was awarded the Legion of Honour.[2]

Returned to France to support his ailing wife, Cunat continued to sail merchantmen as captain of the Noémi.[2] After his wife's death, he remarried and settled in Saint-Malo in 1835 to raise his children.[2] From 1835 to 1862, he served as an aid to the major of Saint-Malo, and wrote History books in his spare time.[2]


  • Cunat, Charles. Histoire de Robert Surcouf (in French).
  • Cunat, Charles. Histoire du Bailli de Suffren (in French).
  • Cunat, Charles (1857). Saint-Malo illustré par ses marins (in French). Imprimerie de F. Péalat.
  • Cunat, Charles. Saint-Malo sous la Terreur (in French).
  • Cunat, Charles. Histoire de la cité d'Aleth (in French).
  • Cunat, Charles. Évéché de Saint-Malo, anciennes réformations (in French).

Cunat furthermore contributed the articles on André Désilles, René Duguay-Trouin, Joseph Potier, Robert Surcouf and various others in the Biographie bretonne directed by Prosper Levot:[2]

Sources and references


  1. The name of the ship honoured an Indian girl who had saved Cunat's life by treating him after he was bitten by a cobra


  1. Levot, p.108
  2. Levot, p.109


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