Maurice Benyovszky

Maurice Benyovszky
Maurice Benyovszky engraving (crop).png
Portrait of Benyovszky
Born(1746-09-20)20 September 1746
Verbó, Kingdom of Hungary
(present-day Vrbové, Slovakia)
Died24 May 1786(1786-05-24) (aged 39)
ChildrenSamuel, Charles, Roza and Zsofia
  • Sámuel Benyovszky (father)
  • Anna Rozália Révay (mother)
AwardsOrder of Saint Louis

Count Maurice Benyovszky de Benyó et Urbanó (Hungarian: Benyovszky Máté Móric Mihály Ferenc Szerafin Ágost; Polish: Maurycy Beniowski; Slovak: Móric Beňovský; 20 September 1746 – 24 May 1786)[1] was a renowned military officer, adventurer, and writer from the Kingdom of Hungary, who described himself as a Hungarian and a Pole.[2] He is considered a national hero in Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.

Benyovszky was born and raised in Verbó, Kingdom of Hungary (present-day Vrbové, Slovakia). In 1769, while fighting for the Polish armies under the Bar Confederation, he was captured by the Russians and exiled to Kamchatka. He subsequently escaped and returned to Europe via Macau and Mauritius, arriving in France. In 1773, Benyovszky reached agreement with the French government to establish a trading post on Madagascar. Facing significant problems with the climate, the terrain, and the native Sakalava people, he abandoned the trading post in 1776.

Benyovszky then returned to Europe, joined the Austrian Army and fought in the War of the Bavarian Succession. After a failed venture in Fiume (present-day Rijeka), he travelled to America and obtained financial backing for a second voyage to Madagascar. The French governor of Mauritius sent a small armed force to close down his operation, and Benyovszky was killed in May 1786.

In 1790, Benyovszky's posthumous and largely fictitious account of his adventures (entitled Memoirs and Travels of Mauritius Augustus Count de Benyowsky) was published to great success.

  1. ^ Most biographies base themselves on Benyovszky’s editor Wm. Nicholson in citing 23 May as the date of death; however, French sources documented by Prosper Cultru cite 24 May – see: Prosper Cultru: Un Empereur de Madagascar au 18ième Siècle: Benyowszky. Paris (1906)
  2. ^ Maurice Benyovszky: Memoirs and Travels, Vol.1 (ed. Wm Nicholson) (1790) (p1,3,53,381) and Vol.2 (p392)