Association TOURVILLE

Dive into the XVIIth century

1692: Battle of La Hogue

On May 29th -, Tourville’s fleet, composed of 44 vessels, reaches the open sea near Barfleur in order to embark in Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue the infantery meant to get to England with James II. The Anglo-Dutch fleet led by Admiral Russel and Admiral Van Almonde arrives with 86 vessels. Tourville, who had received strict orders : ‘fight the enemy weak or strong and whatever happens…’, takes on the enemy two to one. That day publicly recognises Tourville who uses a remarkable tactic : a revolutionary code composed of signals. Thus Barfleur becomes one of the most shining naval victories of the XVIIth century. However, the fleet remains deeply damaged. Tourville, leaving the idea of landing in England, gives the order to cast off and go back to Brest. A dozen vessels, including the “Soleil Royal”, are chased by the English fleet. Twelve are destroyed in La Hougue.
Admiral Tourville and his men defending his vessels in La Hogue

The construction sites

From 1676, Colbert and Louis XIV provide France with a true navy. The royal arsenals are located in Le Havre, Brest, Lorient, Rochefort, Marseille, Toulon and Dunkirk. Additional industries are developed alongside the construction sites. The first concern of the arsenals is to provide for supplies of “naval ammunition”, that-is-to-say of wood, hemp, cannons, copper, iron and tar. Colbert’s legislation on the woods regulates the exploitation so that the resinous trees are used for the masts and the oak planks for the hulls. A true war industry is set up with the forges, the foundries and the rope factories, in the ports/arsenals first and then deeper in the land. In Dunkirk, a huge dock composed of locks, an arsenal, a rope factory, and barracks, is built to welcome thirty war vessels. Twenty-five ships are built between 1660 and 1707, all with a medium tonnage, all but three that actually approach a thousand barrels and seventy cannons.
Picture of Toulon's arsenal in the 1670s