This letter, signed by Charles de Gaulle, was sent to Michael D. Jones, founder of the Welsh colony in Patagonia in the 1860s, and now forms part of the archives at Bangor University devoted to the colony.
Reverend Jones (1822-98) was a key figure in the development of Welsh nationalism. De Gaulle (1837-80), pictured here, was the uncle of his celebrated namesake. Well versed in several Celtic languages, he argued that their preservation and expansion were vital in keeping national cultures alive. He made a point of praising the Welsh in his pan-Celtic manifesto The Celts of the Nineteenth Century, an Appeal to the Living Representatives of the Celtic Race (1865), and wrote to Reverend Jones that year to say that Brittany’s people pinned their hopes on his Patagonian plans.
De Gaulle’s famous nephew, French president from 1959 to 1969, was born in 1890 and named after his uncle. Although known for his lack of interest in Breton nationalism, he once tried to use his uncle’s memory to attract support when speaking in Quimper - only to be greeted with howls of derision.
Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to firstname.lastname@example.org