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Rose de Freycinet

The great age of sail – of European exploration and colonisation – is typically depicted as trenchantly masculine, with the only ‘women’ being unpredictable ships and the sea itself. Women have traditionally been considered bad luck, distracting, or not tough enough for life at sea. Nonetheless, historical research is increasingly revealing that many women played active roles at sea, as commanders, companions, and crew – from the gundecks of Trafalgar, to the topmasts of the American merchant navy, to the French voyages of discovery to the Indo-Pacific and Australia.

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