La Cordelière is to the French what the Titanic is to the British: a curious shipwreck shrouded in mystery. For centuries, this huge warship has cultivated a mythic status ever since it sunk during a fierce 16th-century battle and now, France wants to find out more.
La Cordelière, pride of Anne of Brittany’s navy, was a 40-metre-long epic vessel armed with 200 cannons that tragically exploded off the coast of Brest in 1512. The catastrophe happened after Henry VIII’s armada surprised her France-Brittany fleet during the War of the League of Cambrai and nearly 1,500 people in total died.
It’s a historic event that has fascinated French researchers for decades, hoping to uncover this mysterious shipwreck. No one knows why the explosion happened, or where. And while all previous search missions have yielded little or no success, with numerous searches carried out from 1996 to 2001, there has recently been a renewed hope for finding the legendary Cordelière and solving the mystery.
Thanks to technological developments, a research team aboard the André Malraux research vessel will be able to map the seafloor using sonar and magnetometric sensors, which has never been possible on this scale before. There may be divers involved, but the team will most likely rely on cutting-edge robotic devices to investigate any anomalies these searches discover.
The recent wave of hope has also been inspired by a change in approach, conducting a new analysis of archival documents previously thought to yield little insight. It just goes to show that sometimes, you can solve a mystery with what’s already in front of your eyes. This new hope also stems from a revised interpretation of tidal movements.
The latest search is scheduled to run from June 20 to July 14 of this year and although ambitious in scope, it will cover about 10 square miles. The chosen search area will stretch from the port at Brest to the promontory at Saint-Mathieu, from which the battle acquired its name.
‘What we have under the water here are two of the most significant museums of the 16th century’s maritime history,’ says Michel L’Hour, head of France’s marine archeology department, as reported in The Guardian. ‘It’s an underwater Pompeii’.
‘As is often the case with ships, the Cordelière was thrust into history just as it disappeared,’ L’Hour said. ‘We might find something on the first day, or nothing for five years. But I am firmly convinced, one day we will find it,’ L’Hour says.
Interestingly, the battle that sunk this ship inspired other battles in French history as well. Unsurprisingly, many French poets have drawn inspiration from his mysterious sinking, such as poets like Germain de Brie, for example. However, he favoured an exaggeratedly heroic version of the death of Hervé de Portzmoguer, one of the people aboard the ship. Poets like Thomas More responded with utter satire, leading to a literary battle between the two.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.