Île des Mortes

The Island of St. Gilbert, St. Gilbert’s Isle or, more commonly, just St. Gilbert’s is a small volcanic Caribbean island, situated approximately halfway between the territories of the British Virgin Islands and the island of Anguilla. As such, it belongs to both the Lesser Antilles and Leeward Islands.

Unlike the other islands in this chain, whilst both the Arawak and Carib indians were aware of the island, neither settled it, as the lack of natural harbour and sheer rocky coastline made it difficult to access. As those native explorers that did ascend the black cliffs never returned, the island was considered taboo by both peoples.

When Columbus ventured forth on his voyage of exploration, he felt that the inaccessible nature of the island made it more trouble than it was worth to explore, and merely recorded the island on his charts as Roccia nera, for that was all it appeared to be.

The first actual settlers were members of the Order of St. Gilbert, a Roman Catholic order founded in Britain in 1130. Whilst it was believed that the order came to an end in the 16th century, at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it had survived in splinter form and the remaining adherents took ship and sailed for the West Indies in the early 17th century.

Whilst the other islands of the Lesser Antilles offered greater scope for settlement, the inaccessibility of Roccia nera, and the fact that no nation seemed to want to claim it made it an ideal refuge for the order.

Over the next couple of decades, work began on construction of both the convent and monastery, as the Order of St. GIilbert was fairly unique at the time in allowing both male and female lay members to worship and live together in harmony.

Utilising the natural basalt that made up the majority of the island’s composition , the order constructed their compound high above sea level. The quarrying of the stone for these buildings had the added benefit of creating an artificial cove, that made the island more accessible for supply ships from the neighbouring islands.

Whilst life was fairly harsh on the newly renamed Island of St. Gilbert, the order appeared to flourish, subsisting on locally cultivated crops and regular supply drops from British owned Anguilla.

This came to an end in 1666. The French had occupied Anguilla and sought to extend their holdings in the Caribbean, so sent a warship to St. Gilbert’s with the intention of securing it for the King. However, the marines sent to occupy the island were met with a scene of carnage. The monastery grounds were littered with slaughtered bodies of the lay brothers and canons regular. Of the lay sisters there was no trace, other than a few blood-stained and torn habits.

Whilst they had not formally occupied St. Gilbert’s, the French insisted that it be ceded to Britain in the Treaty of Breda in 1667. All record of their discoveries the previous year were suppressed, other than veiled references to St. Gilbet’s as Île des Mortes.

The island has remained a British territory ever since.

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33 thoughts on “Île des Mortes

  1. Hoho! An isle of death hidden away in the Caribbean. Intrigued beyond belief!

    Death knights and cursed sisters? Walking ghosts of the slain? Something more? The tease!

    Good stuff Jez. Good stuff.

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  2. Ooooh!!! Île des Mortes *Gasps*

    L’Île des Morts est située dans la baie de Roscanvel, au sud-ouest de la rade de Brest, entre la presqu’île de Quélern et l’Île Longue. À 300 mètres à l’est-nord-est se trouve l’île Trébéron…. and so on. *shivers and pulls the cloak more tightly around her shoulders, looking into the darkest shadows, a little fearfully.*

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        • AAh so this is not taken from the Roscanvel one, I was scouring all things Brest trying to glean info, but daaagh!! you`ve gone and mixed it all up and added spice and dis-temporal shift and.. and.. and….. now its your creation.

          Hello Mr Frankenstein.

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          • From the same ingredients, many dishes may be made. Part of the fun of this kind of project is coming up with unexpected variations – you may THINK you’ve worked it out and know where it’s leading and then…the rug is pulled from beneath you. Buy everything will make sense…eventually.

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  3. i see legends springing to life, terrible forests strangling ancient ruins and remains. things that lurk and ooze, bump in the night and crawl by day, sleepy hollows and whispering brooks, enticing scenery and a terrible past.

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  4. i just know with you two doing this it promises to go on to the very end, and expand and fill out. battles and skirmishes, and narrative and stories, and years of untapped adventure bought to life with spectacular photographs as well. i remember the voyage of the princess ark which was an epic of major proportions that ran for years. perhaps this will be even better. i am often sad that great wargame campaigns in blogs start with promise, and stop and are never finished, falling by the wayside like so many others, a shame, we read them and get excited and then something new comes along and direction changes and we are left in limbo. i just know you people wont do that, and thats why im very excited. this is the beginning of something new and amazing i am sure.

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    • The advantage of sharing a creation like this is that each person will spur the other on. When you’re doing a project on your own, even if you are dedicated and have resolve, there will be a point when your enthusiasm will flag. So having a partner-in-crime will help maintain momentum.

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      • yes i can see that jez, now you mention it. i was too harsh really because as you say, maintaining interest is a very hard thing to do on your own. i found this when i first discovered the hobby. my solo games were somehow a bit empty and lacked some vital ingredient (i suspect this is why people who primarily play on their own find themselves for ever buying things, always hunting for the game that will change everything, but of course it never will. its attitude of mind does that, and for me the secret came when i started to keep war journals of all my games. before i knew it my games were turning into campaigns, and finally my characters came alive for me, and then i started to write them into stories. now my games are rich and every morning i wake up excited and happy to add new layer to my imaginary worlds. working with someone like you are doing must be wonderful. im so glad you have that.

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        • I didn’t take it as a criticism, Luke. Ennui is the bane of the hobbyist and can, as you rightly say, lead to a fruitless search for tge ‘perfect game’. It’s up to the individual to recognise this and make the games he or she plays what they should be, creating the ‘perfect’ game from what they already have.

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          • that is brilliantly put and a good word to describe it. ennui sums it up ideally (the feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction, brought on by a lack of occupation or excitement). i have been there, i know how it feels. when i started the hobby it was exactly that. so i sat and worked out what was missing for me. it was then i realized each lonesome gamer needs focus, and focus comes with the ability to stay fixed on one thing at a time and not get lost and wander off. since then i have some wonderful friends i play with often and regularly. but i still have a soft spot for my solitaire gaming, and my more focused endeavors.

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  5. To be.. here.. at the very beginning of all this feels like a wonderful privilege. We are at the dawn of a new history. Remember this day and smile.

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  6. Well well, here we go again, the beginning of the end of the world – as we know it. We`re doomed, we`re doomed laddie.

    Excellent start to what promises to be a real “hold onto your britches“ roller coasted of a ride, a ride into – whats that, hell itself?

    Hmmmmm, et ludos incipere as they say.

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    • Bonjour, Phil! Welcome to the Buffet. I’m afraid my grasp of your language is minimal, so any mistranslations are entirely my fault. That’s why I aporeciate your English translations on your own site.
      And St. Gilbert’s welcomes new blood, offering beautiful vistas, geothermal springs and a variety of exotic fare. Just don’t go wandering off into the interior alone…

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