Nicolas Francois Guerin

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Nicolas Francois Guerin was captain of the French warship Virginie and Commander-in-Chief of the French Oriental Naval Force. He is known for playing the primary role (on the French side) in pressing for, negotiating, and then signing a Treaty of Amity between France and the Ryûkyû Kingdom.

Guerin first traveled to Ryûkyû in 1846, as captain of the Sabine. He led a total of three ships' crews in attempting to push for trade relations, permission to land missionaries, and other provisions. Though Ryûkyû successfully resisted signing any treaties at that time, Guerin landed men at various places on Okinawa Island and stayed for several months. When they finally left, they took with them the French missionary Theodore Augustin Forcade, who had arrived two years earlier on the French ship Alcmene.[1]

Nine years later, in 1855, after several visits to Hakodate and other ports in Japan (often alongside additional French and/or British vessels),[2] Guerin led the Virginie (alongside French warships Colbert and La Sibylle) to return once again to Naha. The three arrived in Naha on 9/27 on the Japanese calendar (Nov 6), and Guerin and others managed to come ashore that same day. Over the course of the next 2-3 weeks, between 10/1 and 10/15, Guerin met with Ryûkyû court officials eight times, negotiating various aspects of a potential treaty; Ryûkyû, under pressure from Satsuma han and in accordance with precedent and the court's own interests, made efforts to resist granting almost any provisions to the French, but in the end Guerin had troops surround the negotiation site on 10/15 and force signature of the treaty.


  • Marco Tinello, "The termination of the Ryukyuan embassies to Edo : an investigation of the bakumatsu period through the lens of a tripartite power relationship and its world," PhD thesis, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia (2014), 203-205, 209, 219.
  1. Robert Hellyer, Defining Engagement, Harvard University Press (2009), 156-157.; Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 1 (1937), 10, 13.
  2. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 2 (1937), 80.