Abstract: The heroic status of Matthew Flinders as the maritime explorer who circumnavigated the Great South Land and gave it the name Australia has deflected attention from allegations against him of spying. During Flinders’s return voyage to England in 1803, he was forced to land at Isle de France (Mauritius) where he was detained for over six years as a spy. This article shows that the high-flown rhetoric of French and British authorities about the objectivity and neutrality of scientific voyages sometimes camouflaged more pressing demands for military intelligence and espionage.
Keywords: Espionage, Maritime exploration, Science, War, Intelligence
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