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More passionate than 50 Shades of Gray: scientists read French love letters stolen 265 years ago for the first time

Scientists read French love letters stolen 265 years ago

Today, people can easily send messages to the other side of the world or see their loved ones via video. It's hard to imagine how much effort it took for our ancestors to communicate at a distance. The letters they sent had to be meaningful and could take weeks or even months to reach their recipient. In some cases, they never reached the hands of the person they were written to. This happened in 1758 during the Seven Years' War, when the French ship Galatea was captured by the British and 181 of its crew members were imprisoned. A box of letters intended for the sailors was sent to the British Admiralty, where it was put in storage. It remained there for 265 years.

Cambridge University researcher Renaud Morier found the box and opened it for the first time in almost three centuries. He found 102 letters sent by loved ones, friends, and relatives to sailors from France. The historian published an analysis of the letters, as well as details about the fates of their authors and recipients in the journal Annales Histoire Sciences Sociales, Cosmos reports.

"I ordered this box just out of curiosity. There were three piles of letters tied with a ribbon. The letters were very small and sealed, so I asked the archivist if I could open them, and he did. I realized that I was the first person to read these very personal messages since they were written. Their recipients had not had this opportunity. It was very emotional," said Professor Morier.

More passionate than 50 Shades of Gray: scientists read French love letters stolen 265 years ago for the first time

One of the messages comes from Marie Dubosc to her husband Louis Chambrelan, the first lieutenant on the ship. The woman died in 1759, before her beloved was released from captivity. The lieutenant returned to France in 1761 and remarried.

"I could spend the night writing to you... I am your forever faithful wife. Good night, my dear friend. It is already midnight. I think it is time for me to rest," Marie Dubosk wrote to her husband.

According to the professor, despite the fact that the letters were written in the 18th century, their texts seem very familiar, and the words resonate.

Many of the letters were extremely intimate and passionate. Women wrote about their sexual lust for their military lovers, whom they had not seen for a very long time. For example, Anne le Cerf wrote to her husband: "I cannot wait to possess you."

More passionate than 50 Shades of Gray: scientists read French love letters stolen 265 years ago for the first time

"These letters destroy the old-fashioned notion that war is a man's business. While men were away, women ran the household and made important economic and political decisions. Many of the letters speak of family love, but some of them also contain complaints," the historian said.

Marguerite Quesnel, Nicolas' 61-year-old mother, was disappointed that her son did not write to her more often. She openly wrote that she resented the child, but still congratulated him on the winter holidays.

"On the first day of the year, you wrote to your fiancée, not me.... I think about you more than you think about me. In any case, I wish you a happy new year filled with the blessings of the Lord. I think I should go to the grave, I've been sick for three weeks. Please give my regards to Varin [a fellow worker], only his wife gives me your news," the woman complained.

More passionate than 50 Shades of Gray: scientists read French love letters stolen 265 years ago for the first time

A letter from Nicolas's fiancée was also lost in the box. The girl also complained, but this time about her lover's mother. However, she noticed that the letter he sent to his mother made the woman kinder and defused the atmosphere, and "the black cloud over them dissipated."

According to the professor, not all people in those days were literate and able to write, so they used the services of scribes. This means that sometimes even the most intimate messages had to be spoken out loud, in front of everyone, so that another person could write them down.

"Most of the people who sent these letters told the scribe what they wanted to say and relied on others to read their letters aloud. It was someone they knew who could write, not a professional. Keeping in touch was a community effort," Morier commented.

Earlier, OBOZ.UA wrote about the reasons why absolutely all couples quarrel and how to look for compromises in order not to break up. Read the tips from a psychologist in our article.

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