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Michel Bégon papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 1756

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence, reports, journals, lists, pamphlets and broadsides, and other papers relating to Michel Bégon and French colonial administration in the Caribbean, French maritime commerce, foreign relations, domestic economic matters, and botany in the 17th century.

Reports concern expeditions led by Jean d'Estrées and other French naval officers during the Dutch War and War of the Grand Alliance, voyages of French ships to Africa and the West Indies, and commercial and military activities of other colonial powers, particularly Spain. The collection contains intelligence profiles on Spanish mining and trade of silver and salt, as well as the movements, structure, and economics of the Spanish fleet. Several reports are addressed to French Navy Secretary Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay, and some were compiled for Bégon in his capacity as intendant of Saint-Domingue, and later La Rochelle. Other topics of reports include French relations with the Vatican and political developments in the Ottoman Empire. Also present are decrees, publications, correspondence, and writings related to horse breeding in France, and trade of tobacco, sugar, and chocolate.

The collection additionally contains journals, correspondence, and reports of Jean de la Mousse, a Jesuit missionary living among the Kalina people in French Guiana; an account of Spanish food offered to d'Estrées in Cadiz; and a journal detailing the voyage of a French ship to the West Indies, which contains references to slavery and the slave trade.


  • circa 1651-1718


Language of Materials

In French, with a small amount of material in Italian.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research

Conditions Governing Use

The Michel Bégon Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of William S. Reese (Yale 1977), 2000, 2001. Purchased from William Reese Co. on the Library Associates Fund, 2001. Purchased from William Reese Co. on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 2002, 2013.


Organized into four series: I. Correspondence, Reports, and Other Papers of Michel Bégon, circa 1651-1718. II. Letters and Reports from Jean de La Mousse, 1690-1695. III. Description des Repas Espangnols et Collations qu'on a Donne a Monsieur Le Comte D'Estrées à Cadiz, circa 1700. IV. Extrait du Journal du Sieur Boureau Pour L'Amerique, 1689.

Associated Materials

Other material by or relating to Michel Bégon (GEN MSS File 232, GEN MSS File 233, GEN MSS File 234) can be found by searching Orbis (Yale’s Online Catalog).


3.72 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The collection contains correspondence, reports, journals, lists, pamphlets and broadsides, and other papers relating to Michel Bégon and French colonial administration in the Caribbean, French maritime commerce, foreign relations, domestic economic matters, and botany in the 17th century.

Michel Bégon (1638-1710)

Michel Bégon was a French colonial administrator during the Ancien Régime. He served as intendant of the Windward Islands from 1682 to 1684, and subsequently intendant of Saint-Domingue, where he became involved in the spice trade. After he returned to France in the late 1680s, he was appointed intendant of Rochefort (1688-1710), and in 1694, obtained the intendance of the généralité of La Rochelle. Bégon also was an amateur botanist.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections as they are acquired, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list were transcribed as found, retaining variant spellings. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Folder titles in brackets were supplied by staff during processing.

Some materials in the collection are enclosed with typed transcriptions, translations, or description created by a previous custodian; the information provided in those documents has not been verified.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Former call numbers: Uncat MSS 108; Uncat MSS 211; Uncat MSS 138; Uncat MSS 123.

Guide to the Michel Bégon Papers
by Brooke McManus
September 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

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