Joseph Mosneron and « The Black Gold »

Joseph Mosneson, Or Noir, Black Gold

–> Lire la version française de cet article

I discovered not long ago L’Or Noir (The Black Gold), a French documentary very well realised by the University Rennes 2. If the shooting of 2001 dates a little, the content has lost nothing of its interest. Based on the memoirs of Joseph Mosneron, from Nantes, the documentary proposes to follow the history of the slave trade and the triangular trade of the end of the 18th century. From the French port, to Gorée and Ouidab in Africa, to the coast of Martinique and Santo Domingo, the film follows the main stages of the journeys made by the shipowner.


The account of Joseph Mosneron is explained, completed, and even corrected by several historians who offer approaches both to the historical facts and their implications up to the present day. It is also illustrated by the beautiful drawings of François Bourgeon, author of the series of comics The Passengers on the Wind, a maritime saga against the backdrop of a slave trade taking place in the 18th century.

Tanlistwa-Joseph-Mosneron-&-LOr-Noir-JosephBorn in 1748, Joseph Mosneron is the grandson of a grandfather boat captain and the son of a rich shipowner. Navigation and maritime commerce are part of his family universe. In 1763, aged fifteen, after only a few years spent on the benches of the college, he took the sea for his first travel of the slave trade. He made a second one between 1766 and 1767 as the second of the captain. Finally, in 1768-69, he embarked on a third journey, rightly towards Santo Domingo, for the trade in colonial commodities, especially sugar. He was 21 years old when he decided to continue his training abandoned 6 years earlier and took, a few years later, the head of the paternal business house of Nantes.

Some thirty-five years after the events, in 1804, he wrote his story Journal de mes voyages, dedicated to the education of his children. Traditionally, transmitted from generation to generation to the eldest son, the autobiographical manuscript has almost been lost, forgotten in a piece of furniture sold to an antique dealer. Rediscovered and published in 1995, the writing of Joseph Mosneron reveals a man’s view of the world of navigation, maritime commerce and the slave trade.

Bibliography (French)
PÉTRÉ-GRENOUILLEAU Olivier, Moi, Joseph Mosneron, armateur négrier nantais (1748-1833), Rennes, Éditions Apogée, 1995, 238 p.

Watching documentary (French) L’Or Noir
The illustrations oh this post coming from the documentary.

Reading (French) L’Express Les noires racines au grand jour…

Dicovering on Wikipédia the writer and colourist François Bourgeon

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