US, France Scuffle Over 1679 Shipwreck in Great Lakes

Vessel was likely on Louis XIV's orders
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2009 7:42 AM CST
US, France Scuffle Over 1679 Shipwreck in Great Lakes
France is claiming rights to a French shipwreck found in Lake Michigan because the vessel was launched under orders from King Louis XIV.   (Getty Images)

The state of Michigan, French officials, and an American diver are battling over a wreck discovered at the bottom of Lake Michigan that's believed to be a French ship laden with furs and muskets on a mission for King Louis XIV. The Griffin, launched by famous French explorer La Salle on orders from the Sun King, went down in a storm in 1679. Michigan claims the wreck belongs to the state, but that claim is being challenged in court.

"An early French ship goes down operating with the permission of the French king. There's a good chance there's skeletal remains," said the US diver who discovered the wreck and wants rights to the site. "Do you really think the people of Michigan own those skeletons?" The French are arguing that the "public expedition, summoned by the king, remains the property of the French state." (More Louis XIV stories.)

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