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The Mariner's Mirror

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R. C. Anderson
Published online: 22 Mar 2013.

To cite this article: R. C. Anderson (1970) THE THIRTY YEARS' WAR

IN THE MEDITERRANEAN, The Mariner's Mirror, 56:1, 41-57, DOI:

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By R. C. Anderson

TER the return of the French Mediterranean fleet to Toulon in
September I 64 I and the dismissal of Sourdis from his command
it remained inactive for several months with only a few ships and
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galleys maintaining a blockade of Rosas, for with the Spanish sailing ships
outside the Straits of Gibraltar there was no need for more. Cange, the
former second-in-command, had replaced Sourdis and Du Q!tesne, who had
already distinguished himself on several occasions, was probably in charge
of the blockade; he was certainly there in February I642 in the Maquedo,
a Spanish prize of I 6 3 9, trying without much success to assert his authority
over the galleys employed in the same service.
This year both Spain and France concentrated their naval strength in the
Mediterranean, the Spaniards wishing to bring aid to the defenders of
Perpignan by way of Rosas, the French anxious to prevent this and to guard
against a possible attack on Barcelona. Breze brought the Western fleet
into the Mediterranean again and took the place of Sourdis as commander-
in-chief with Montigny from Brest and Cange from Toulon as his squadronal
commanders. The two divisions put to sea almost simultaneously, Breze
on 22 April with I9 ships from Brest and Cange on the 2oth with 21 from
Toulon. The Spaniards, now under the Duke of Ciudad Real, were too
late to oppose their junction; they did not leave Cadiz until 18 May, when
Breze was already well up the Straits.
On 16 May he was near lvecy and met seven French galleys under De
Baume, the officer with whom Du Q!tesne had been quarrelling some months
before. From him he learnt that Cange had just been in action with six
Dunkirkers under Josse Peeters 1 and had driven them into Denia, between
Alicante and Valencia. Breze and Cange cannot have been far apart, but
did not actually meet until29 May. On 9 June they anchored off Barcelona
and there Forbin with the rest of the galleys joined them on the 21st after
spending a month in the neighbourhood of Cadaques waiting for fine
1 The name is sometimes given as Jospiter or even Coapiter, the first part sometimes as

On the same day the Spanish fleet left Vimaroz, I oo miles to the S. W .,
where it had lain since the I 2th while its galleys brought men and supplies
from Tarragona. Before that it had called at Malaga, Cartagena, Alicante
and Denia to pick up troops, galleys and finally the six Dunkirkers. Next
day it was off Tarragona and within 50 miles of the enemy, but was forced
by the rising north-easterly wind to stand off to sea, so that when Breze
arrived there on the 24th Ciudad Real was near Majorca. He had left two
ships off Vimaroz, Dutch prizes taken near Gibraltar, one of 40 guns and
the other of 36. These were attacked and burnt on the 26th by a detachment
of four French ships and seven galleys and then, with no other Spaniards to
be seen, Breze returned to Barcelona to wait for them. In the morning of
30 June, when he had been at anchor there for less than 24 hours, his
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look-outs ashore signalled the approach of the enemy.

Breze had just been joined by four ships and now had 44 with I 4 fireships
and 17 galleys. Ciudad Real had 36 ships, six fireships and ten galleys
with I2 small craft and 35 barca-longas, large rowing boats manned from
the ships and used for towing. On the whole the French seem to have been
the stronger, though the Spaniards had the advantage in the size of their
heaviest ships. Fournier gives them three ships of 64-66 guns with the rest
carrying 36-40, while Duro mentions two of 66 and 6o and gives the
others only 2o-3o. Parets, the contemporary Barcelona chronicler, per-
haps provides the explanation; he describes the Spanish ship captured, the
Santo Tomds de Aquino, as having 3 5 brass guns and 'as many iron', whereas
she appears as a French ship in I646 with a total of 38 guns only. On the
French side Cange's Galion de Guise with 52 guns was probably the most
heavily armed ship; Breze's flagship, though larger, carried only 44 guns.
The French galleys were close inshore careening and Breze had to meet
the enemy without their help. With the Spaniards coming down before a
fresh breeze from S.S.W. his first object was to get to windward so as to be
able to use his fireships. His own squadron and that of Cange, the Rear
Admiral, were able to stand out to sea at once, but Montigny had to make a
tack to get clear and was left some way astern.
Fighting began late in the afternoon and went on until nightfall. It is
impossible to give a coherent account of what happened, but it appears that
first Ciudad Real and afterwards Breze charged through the enemy from the
weather position with no attempt at boarding, or at least no success in
doing so. The Spanish Santo Tomds de Aquino ran foul of one of her own
fires hips and together they collided with the 'Almirante' of Sancho de
Urdanivia, the second-in-command. Urdanivia got clear1 , but the Santo

1 De la Ronciere states wrongly that his ship was burnt.

Tomds was left disabled and surrendered to avoid destruction, while the
fireship, equally helpless, burnt herself without effect. Another Spanish ship,
the hired 'urea' Testa de Oro, was also nearly taken, but was saved by the
approach of Ciudad Real himself. Two other Spanish fireships and one
French had been expended without reaching their intended victoms.
Next morning the Spaniards were well to windward but somewhat
scattered. Ciudad Real turned to let the stragglers rejoin and came down to
the attack as soon as he had his fleet in good order. Breze again tried to get
the weather gage, but even with the help of his galleys was unable to do so
and had to accept battle to leeward. The chief fighting took place at the
head of the French line, 1 where Cange in the Galion de Guise was attacked
by Ciudad Real's flagship supported by the 'urea' Concordia, probably
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another hired ship, and the frigate San Fernando. After some two hours
the Magdalena, commanded by an Irishman, the Earl of Tyrconnel, took
over the close fighting while Ciudad Real and Urdanivia prevented other
French ships from coming to Cange's aid. Finally a French fireship attempt-
ing to run aboard Urdanivia's flagship missed her mark and went foul of
the Galion de Guise. The flames spread to the Magdalena and both ships were
burnt. Cange perished with all but 40 of his crew of 540 and though the
crew of the Magdalena were more fortunate, Tyrconnel himself was drowned.
As darkness fell the two fleets drew apart. The Spaniards had lost 20 5
killed and 417 wounded apart from about 300 captured in the Santo
Tomds; French losses are not known, but were probably at least as heavy,
though the Spanish estimate of 3000 or so is certainly too great. In ships
the French had lost the Galion de Guise of 52 guns, the Spaniards the
Magdalena of 6o or more and the Santo Tomas, the latter captured.
A curious feature of the accounts of this second day's fighting is that
they make no mention of either Breze or Montigny. Fournier describes the
fighting between the French galleys and a few detached Spanish ships,
probably the disabled Testa de Oro and her protectors, but as regards the
two remaining French squadrons there is silence. Another point to be
noted is that Jal in his Abraham Du ~esne gives no account of the battle,
but merely mentions in passing that it took place and that Cange was killed.
He refers to a statement by an eighteenth-century writer that Du Q:y.esne was
wounded off Barcelona in this year and says he has found no confirmation of
this in any contemporary document.
The morning of 2 July found the French to windward. Breze had now a
chance to use his fireships, but before they and the galleys escorting them
could reach striking distance the wind dropped and turned in favour of the
1 This does not imply a formation in line-ahead, but merely that Cange's squadron was leading
the fleet.

enemy. When Ciudad Real approached in his turn, Breze retreated and
next day the two fleets were out of sight of one another. Breze anchored
again off Barcelona on the 4th with Ciudad Real not far behind him, since
he sighted the coast that evening. Next day he could be seen from the shore
and Breze weighed to meet him, but though both sides claimed to have
been anxious to fight, nothing came of it. Ciudad Real went to Port Mahon
in Minorca to land his sick and wounded and arrived there on I 2 July,
while Breze had anchored once more off Barcelona on the previous day.
French historians have claimed that he had won a decisive victory. De la
Ronciere writes that by nightfall on July I 'la victoire etait acquise', while
Lacour-Gayet describes that day's fighting as having completed the victory
and left the French fleet 'mistress of the Spanish coast'. As for such earlier
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writers as Guerin, their claims have been sufficiently refuted by Duro.

Possibly the French had 'won on points', but subsequent events showed
clearly that they had done no more.
Ciudad Real remained in Port Mahon until 30 July, when he left for
Rosas to fulfil the primary object of his voyage. He reached there on
I 4 August after a short stay off Majorca, landed men and supplies for
Perpignan and sailed again on the I 8th, reaching Vimaroz on the 2oth.
Breze had made a brief appearance off Majorca on 2 I July, but apart from
that stayed at anchor off Barcelona until he learnt that Perpignan had
surrendered on 29 August. That news reached him on 9 September and
next day he sailed for Toulon. Before he was out of sight Ciudad Real
appeared, now strengthened by ships and galleys from Naples. There
might well have been another action, for the two fleets were within sighting
distance, but Breze went on homeward. Ciudad Real lay close in off Bar-
celona for two days and disappeared on I 3 September. With that the year's
campaign ended. According to Jal Breze did not actually land at Toulon
until 27 October, but there is no record of any activity by the French fleet
in the meantime. It is quite likely that the date should be 27 September, for
Fournier tells us that the fleet reached Toulon 'in the same month' as it
left Barcelona and Jal certainly wrote May for June (and vice versa) in his
account of operations earlier in the year.
Before the campaign of I 643 began France had a new King and a new
Chief Minister. Richelieu died in December I 642 and was succeeded by
Mazarin, while Louis XIII died in the following May and left his ~een as
Regent for Louis XIV, then only five years old. Breze became Grand
Maitre de la Navigation and remained in chief command of the sailing
ships, but Forbin resigned his post as Lieutenant-General of the Galleys
and was succeeded by Vincheguerre, an Italian by birth, as was Mazarin,
and a Knight of Malta. The titular position of General of the Galleys went
to the new Due de Richelieu, great-nephew of the Cardinal, a boy of I 6.
In Spain too there were changes. Philip IV dismissed his favourite, the
Count-Duke Olivares, and this led to the release from prison of the unfortu-
nate commanders of I64I, Maqueda and Fernandina, the return of the
latter to the post of General of the Galleys and his appointment as com-
mander-in-chief afloat with Carlos de Mencos and Josse Peeters in charge
of the sailing ships.
This year it was Breze who sailed from Toulon with 22 ships, two
pinnaces and I 3 fireships expecting to be joined by Montigny with seven
from the West, while Vincheguerre had 20 galleys of which nine were sent
with troops to Cadaques for operations against Rosas, the last remaining
Spanish position in the north of Catalonia, and from there to Barcelona to
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await the arrival of the sailing fleet.

This had been delayed by lack of funds to pay the dockyard workers and
Breze had been compelled to use his own money to make it possible to get to
sea at the end of July and reach Barcelona on 7 August. He was just in time
to intercept a Spanish convoy bound for Rosas, three Dunkirkers and three
merchantmen, sighted well out to sea in the morning of the 9th. Breze
sent out the nine galleys with the Saint-Charles, Perle, Lion couronne,
Europe, Triton and Duchesse and after a brisk action in which the French
had 42 men killed the whole convoy was taken, though the smallest of the
merchantmen sank during the night, scuttled by her own crew.
After this small success, important because it deprived Rosas of much
needed supplies, Breze started to work southwards along the cast to look
for the main Spanish fleet and to meet Montigny. It is possible that he may
also have intended joining in the operations against the Spanish African
outpost of Oran, threatened from the land by the Moors and from the sea
by 'Turks' from Algiers with the Portuguese as unwonted allies against the
common enemy. Nothing came of this, but the necessity of relieving Oran
helped to make his task easier by diverting part of the Spanish galley-fleet to
that use.
Breze left Barcelona on 22 August with 20 ships, two pinnaces (or
frigates) and I2 fireships; the galleys he had sent back to France three days
before. Passing within sight of Tarragona, Alfaques and Vimaroz without
incident he arrived off Cartagena on the 30th. In that port there were four
Spanish men-of-war and six galleys besides a number of merchantmen; the
main fleet, as Breze learnt from an English ship taken off Valencia with
Spanish troops on board, was at Gibraltar, 2 5 ships strong. As soon as the
French were sighted the Spaniards moved their fighting ships close inshore
with the merchantmen in front of them and a boom of boats and masts
outside all, but in spite of this and of the difficulty of the approach Breze
4 MAM S6

would have tried to force a passage next day, had not the wind blown hard
off shore and made this impossible. Leaving Cartagena unmolested he went
on as far as Cape de Gata, where he anchored on 1 September to await a
fair wind for the Straits.
Two days later, having been driven from his anchorage by the rising
wind, he was beating off and on when the Spanish fleet came in sight late
in the afternoon. By French accounts 1 it consisted of five galleons, two of
them very large, six big Flemish hired ships and 14 Dunkirkers. These
last were presumably led by Peeters, while Mencos was in charge of the
fleet as a whole. Fernandina had not yet got farther than Malaga with his
galleys and there is no mention of fireships on the Spanish side.
Breze's tactics were the same as they had been off Barcelona in 1642, to
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get the weather gage and use his fireships. In the first part of his programme
he was successful, for at daybreak on 4 September he was well to windward,
but his fireships were less effective than he had hoped and only succeeded in
destroying one ship.
As the French came down Breze detached four ships and some fireships
under La Ferte in the Duchesse to attack a group of three Spaniards which
had fallen astern of their main body, but Mencos at once reduced sail to let
them rejoin and had his fleet well in hand before fighting began. In accor-
dance with custom Breze steered for the Spanish flagship and when one of
the Dunkirkers tried to intercept him he opened fire with such effect that
she soon blew up. By French accounts she was a ship of 35 guns, but since
there are said to have been no survivors, it is hard to say how so so exact a
figure could have been obtained.
After this the two flagships and their immediate supporters fought at
close quarters for some hours until at length Mencos began to withdraw
towards Cartagena. In other parts of the fight the 'Almiranta' of Naples of
zooo tons and so
heavy guns was burnt by a fireship after being engaged
for two hours by the Saint-Thomas d'Aquin, the ship taken in the previous
year, while the Spanish 'Vice Admiral' was driven out of action and her
next astern captured and finally during the retreat another ship was
overhauled and taken. These two ships are said to have carried 46 and
30 guns. Duro gives them both 30 and makes no mention of the ship
blown up.
The battle had lasted all day and losses must have been heavy, but no
details are recorded save that La Roche of the Saint-Paul was mortally
wounded. Breze's ships were too much damaged to allow of a close pursuit
I Spanish accounts of this action are, as Duro says, 'very concise' and merely say that certain
ships were lost; while the three contemporay French accounts (including that of Parets from
Barcelona) are too much alike to be considered independent.
and three of them, the Cygne, Europe and Perle, had to be sent back to
Toulon for repairs. With the rest Breze followed the enemy to Cartagena,
to find that they had already reached shelter and that Fernandina had
arrived with I 5 galleys and taken up a position in the entrance to the
harbour. As before, Breze is said to have intended to force the passage and
to have been prevented from doing so by heavy weather which com-
pelled him to stand off to sea and finally to take refuge at Ivecy and
From there he moved towards the Straits, expecting to meet Montigny.
On the way he took an Algerine, but on reaching Tetuan learnt that in the
meantime the Algerines had captured two flutes which had sent back to
Toulon after the battle. Hoping to make an exchange of prisoners, he went
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to Algiers, only to meet with the usual procrastination and to be forced by

shortage of provisions to leave for home with nothing accomplished. More
bad weather followed, but eventually he found shelter at Majorca and from
there reached the Hyeres islands on 26 November. Two of his ships had
been lost, the Pelicorne and a fireship, apparently wrecked on the coast of
Sardinia. As for Montigny, he had already reached Toulon after having
taken some prizes in Sicilian waters. Breze should also have gone in that
direction, but had instead wasted time at Algiers.
For the next two years the French fleet was mainly employed in close
support of operations ashore. In I 644 the Spaniards made no attempt to
dispute its command of the western Mediterranean and a considerable
force assembled at Cartagena in the following year never came in contact
with the enemy.
Some 30 ships and a dozen fireships were fitted out at Toulon in I 644
and in the process two of them, the Maquedo and Amiral de Biscaye, both
large Spanish prizes, were accidentally burnt. The former had been
commanded since I639 by Du Qyesne, but this year found him in Swedish
service. It may be that he would in any case have been unemployed in his
own country, but it is more likely that he was 'lent' to Sweden as an ally of
France needing support in a new war against Denmark. Jal's biography fails
to make this clear and it must be admitted that his account of Du Qyesne's
service in Sweden is quite unreliable. He acknowledges that he does not
know when or how Du Qyesne reached Sweden, but assumes that it was
early in the spring, goes on to describe the action of I 6 May, in which
the Danes were engaged with a Dutch fleet in Swedish service, omits the
more important action between the main Swedish and Danish fleets on
I-I I July and finally claims that Du Qyesne had evidently distinguished
himself in some action, since he was 'advanced' to the rank of major in
September. Swedish sources suggest that it was not until that month that he

actually entered his new service; his commission as major and that of another
French officer, Pierre Banos (or Banneau) a captain were both dated
I4 September. Du ~esne's appointment was 'for fireships' and Banneau
commanded one of these in the action of I 3-2 3 October, but Du ~esne
was then in command of the Regina 34 and third in command of the Swedish
part of the combined fleet. Next year he was rear admiral of the second
squadron in the same ship and in I 64 7, returning to French service, he
brought her to France as one of the four ships then transferred from the
Swedish navy to the French.
During his absence the French Mediterranean fleet had spent two
summers in almost unopposed operations on the Spanish coast and two far
more eventful in Italian waters. In I 644 its task had been to support a
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second attack on Tarragona, planned by the same commander, Houdan-

court, as had failed there in I 64 I. Its first detachment, under Garnier in the
Sourdis, consisting of nine ships and escorting some 40 small craft with
troops and supplies, reached Barcelona on 5 May. There were also nine
galleys under De Baumes, who proved no more willing to cooperate with
Garnier than he had been with Du ~esne three years before. Garnier
went on southward and on 8 June, with the Sourdis, Victoire, Triton, Fortune,
Saint-Thomas, Magdelaine de Brest, Vierge and three fireships, met and
destroyed four large Spanish ships bringing reinforcements from
Houdancourt' s first move was against the Spanish army at Monzon,
some I 50 miles inland. Defeated there on I 5 May, he retired towards
Barcelona with the enemy following and shortly laying siege to Lerida,
which held out for some time but finally surrendered on 3 August. In spite
of this he persisted in his programme and tried on 2 3 August to take
Tarragona by storm while Garnier's ships bombarded the defences on the
sea side. Some success was won by landing parties from the ships; but that
was all. Breze had only just sailed from Toulon and the resulting con-
centration of 32 ships and I 8 galleys was of no avail. Threatened on the
land side, Houdancourt raised the siege on I 4 September and retreated
with considerable loss of equipment, as he had done in I 64 I.
Breze returned to Toulon and the galleys to Marseilles, leaving a small
force of six ships and two fireships at Barcelona or thereabouts for the
winter. The year's campaign had accomplished nothing and a move early
in October to support the Prince of Savoy in an attack on Final, 30 miles
S. W. of Genoa, was equally fruitless, for again the army had to retire and
the navy was left with nothing to do.
Next year, I645, saw the fall of Rosas, the last Spanish position in
north Catalonia. A force of I 6 ships and I 7 galleys under Des Gouttes in
the Solei/I acted in good cooperation with an army under Du Plessis-
Praslin and on 2 8 May, after a siege of about two months, the place sur-
rendered. Although there were 36 ships and 30 galleys at Cartagena, the
Spanish fleet made no attempt to intervene. As a result Melchor de Borja,
General of the Galleys, was dismissed from his post and imprisoned. His
successor, the Count de Linares, was more enterprising. Putting to sea in
August, he captured four French storeships, anchored off Barcelona on the
25th while his galleys picked up a few small prizes and remained within
sight until 4 September, when he left again for Tarragona and beyond,
having seen nothing of the French fleet, which had probably returned home
soon after the fall of Rosas.
For the last five years the activities of the French fleet had been almost
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entirely concerned with Catalonia; now they were to be shifted to the

Spanish possessions in Italy. Something of the sort had been planned for
1643, but the failure of Breze to carry out his instructions had reduced the
operation to a mere demonstration by Montigny in Sicilian waters.
In I 646 the plan was revived in a more ambitious form, the seizure of
Spanish-held ports on the west side of Italy with Naples itself as the further
objective. An army of some 8ooo men led by Prince Thomas of Savoy was
to be transported and assisted by Breze's fleet and in the event of the plan's
succeeding the Prince was to be established as King of Naples and would
then cede to France the port of Gaeta and another on the Adriatic.
Breze left Toulon on 26 April with a fleet consisting of I 6 men-of-war,
eight fireships, four flutes; 20 galleys and 68 small craft. After embarking
the Prince at Vado near Genoa he rendezvoused at Pianosa, just south of
Elba, and reached the Italian mainland on 9 May. Next day the troops were
landed at Talamone to the north of Monte Argentaro and by the I sth they
had begun the siege of Orbitello, which lies behind that promontory. A
month later, before much progress had been made ashore, the Spanish fleet
appeared and the battle of Orbitello was fought.
Linares, Captain General of the Spanish galleys and Commander-in-
Chief, with Francisco Pimienta in command of the sailing ships, had
reached Cagliari in Sardinia on 6 June and had been joined there on the
8th by the galleys of Naples and Sicily. On the I 3th his galleys, now num-
bering 30, approached the French fleet at its anchorage on the north side of
Monte Argentaro, but were forced by the rising wind to withdraw as far as
the island of Giglio, ten miles to the westward, where they were joined by
their sailing ships. Breze got under way and the two fleets met to the south
of that island early next morning.

I These are De la Ronciere's figures. Lacour-Gayet gives 24 ships, I 9 fireships and I 4 galleys.

Breze had been reinforced by eight ships from Toulon and now had 24
with 4 flutes, eight fireships and 20 galleys. The French list was as follows:
Saint-Louis (' Amiral '), 44 (Breze, Admiral); Lune, 36 (Du Daugnon,
Vice-Admiral); Solei/, 36 (Montigny, Rear Admiral); Cardinal, 30;
Triomphe, 30; Sourdis, 34; Saint-Thomas, 38; Saint-Paul, 30; Grand
Anglais, 34; Madelaine, 2 2; Triton, 30; Fortune, 2 6; Lion couronne, 2 8;
Vierge, 34;Amirante, 36; Saint-Jacques, 34;Duchesse, I6; Saint-Charles, 28;
Grand Alexandre; Saint-Etienne; Aigle noir; Petit Anglais; Dantzic; Baleine.
The last 6 ships formed a Reserve under Montade. They had been bought
or hired in Holland and they with the Saint-Paul and Fortune were the new
The composition of the Spanish fleet is less certain. Duro gives a list
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(with tonnages only) of what he describes as the 'second division', though it

included Pimienta's flagship:
'Capitana' (Santiago), I2oo; 'Urvieta's new ship', 8oo; 'Two by
Qyincoces', I5oo; 1 San Jeronimo, 550; N.S. de Regia, 450; Leon Rojo, sso;
Rosa Pequena, 56o; Leon de Oro, 4oo; San Felipe, 25o; San Carlos, 2oo.
Other ships names in accounts of the battle are Trinidad (' Almirante'),
San Martin, Testa de Oro, Caballo Marino, Santa Catalina. Of these the first
two were large ships and the last a frigate. If these five names are distinct
from the three unnamed ships in Duro's list we have I 6 ships. There were
also nine Dunkirkers, though here again there is a possibility of counting
the same ship twice. The greatest number given for the sailing ships is
28, the least 22. There were 30 or 3 I galleys and five fireships.
Rival accounts of the battle, which began at about 5 a.m., are even more
contradictory than usual, since both sides claim to have forced the enemy to
retreat in confusion. The only point of agreement is that there was very
little wind and that most of the fighting was done with the sailing ships in
tow of the galleys. Pimienta's flagship the Santiago lost her main topmast
and was threatened by a French fireship, but was relieved by Contreras in
the Trinidad and towed clear by Linares in his flag-galley. Other ships
damaged on the Spanish side were the Testa de Oro, Leon Rojo and Caballo
Marino, while the Santa Catalina was fired by her own crew to avoid capture
and the 'Capitana' of Naples, which had been towing the Testa de Oro,
was brought almost to the point of sinking. Several French ships were
damaged, but only one fireship actually lost.
In the four hours of fighting the French casualties amounted to no more
than 40, but one of those killed was Breze himself and that when he was-by
French accounts-in close pursuit of the beaten enemy. Only 27 years old,

1 These two men were builders or brokers.

he had held the chief command afloat since I 640, first in the West and
afterwards in the Mediterranean, and though showing no great tactical
ability had at least been always ready to fight. If he had lived, there can be
little doubt that he would have continued the action or at least done his
best to renew it next day, but his successor, Du Daugnon, failed to do
either. It is true that the official French story is that he pursued the enemy
for the rest of the day and all the next, but on the other hand Linares and
Pimienta claimed to have been anxious to fight on both the I 5th and I 6th
and to have been prevented from doing so by the flight of the French. In
any case the two fleets never came within range of one another.
In the night of the I 6th it began to blow hard from the S.E. Both fleets
were scattered and their galleys suffered badly. The Spanish Santa Barbara
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was wrecked on Giglio, the French Grimaldi on Pianosa, while the French
lost also the galley Saint-Dominique and a fireship, both captured. Once
driven from the neighbourhood of Orbitello Du Daugnon simply carried
on for home. The Spaniards reassembled at Porto Longone in Elba and
then returned to Monte Argentaro, hoping to cary out their original task of
relieving the garrison of Orbitello. While they were still at sea a small
French division of four ships under Des Gouttes, bound for Talamone with
supplies for the besiegers and ignorant of Du Daugnon's withdrawal met
them in the night of the 2oth, but was able to part company without being
recognized, reach Talamone unmolested and return safely to Toulon.
On June 25th Linares was joined by eight ships from Naples and next
day he sent them to attack the French small craft at Talamone while the
Dunkirkers did the same at San Stefano quite close to Orbitello itself.
Altogether some 70 small vessels were either captured or destroyed and the
besiegers lost a great part of their stores. After this he not only departed for
Spain with his own galleys but sent Pimienta to Naples with the sailing
ships, leaving the Generals of Naples and Sicily to do what they could by
themselves. As it proved, their force of I 8 galleys was enough. Des Gouttes
landed a few more troops on I4 July, but these came too late; Spanish
reinforcements were already pressing hard towards Orbitello and by the
I 8th Prince Thomas was forced to raise the siege and withdraw, leaving his
artillery behind him. A week later the remaining Spanish galleys left for
their home ports and the year's operations came to an end as far as the
Spanish fleet was concerned.
Orbitello had been relieved and the French plans thwarted, but the
Spanish Court was by no means satisfied with its fleet's performance and
dismissed all its principal officers, Linares, Pimienta and his second-in-
command Contreras, De Viso from Naples and Bayona from Sicily, on
account of their failure to bring the French to action for a second time. The

dismissal of the Commander-in-Chief had become almost a matter of

routine, but such a clean sweep was something exceptional. As for Du
Daugnon, he had at once retired to Brouage, where he was Deputy Gover-
nor, and there he was left unmolested.
The French failure at Orbitello was soon redeemed by the capture of two
far more valuable positions in the same neighbourhood, Porto Langone in
Elba and Piombino on the mainland opposite. The Marshal de la Meil-
leraye, as Lieutenant General of the Qy.een, who had taken Breze's place as
Grand Master of Navigation, left Toulon on 8 September with 32 ships,
including seven Portuguese, 1 I 5 galleys and a host of small craft carrying
troops. A landing was made near Piombino in the night of 4 October and
the place surrendered on the 8th. Two days later it was the turn of Porto
Langone; here the garrison held out longer, but by 29 October this place
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was also in French hands. No attempt had been made by the Spanish fleet
to interfere.
With two good ports in their possession the French could now leave a
small force within less than 300 miles of Naples. The Chevalier Paul,
formerly in Maltese service, but captain of French ships since I 6 3 8 and
already an officer of distinction, was given a detachment of six ships and two
fireships in October and probably remained on the Italian coast after the
main fleet had returned to Toulon. Nothing is known of his doings during
the winter, but on 2 May I 64 7 he suddenly appeared off Naples and cut
out some small craft at the entrance of the harbour. Next day he wa~
attacked by six ships and ten galleys, but these retreated when threatened
by the French fireships. Fighting was renewed each day until the 7th, when
the Spanish force had grown to I 3 ships and I I galleys, and then at length
Paul withdrew. The French claim to have inflicted a loss of 400 killed and
wounded is probably much exaggerated, but Paul had certainly held his
own for several days against heavy odds. 2
Duro's account is very different. According to him the French had hoped
to burn the Spanish ships and galleys as they lay in harbour, but were
observed in time and driven off. One important ship, the flagship of the
Neapolitan squadron, was, however, blown up a few days after Paul's
departure, probably as the result of sabotage by the people of Naples, who
were on the brink of revolt and had been encouraged by his appearance on
the scene.
I These were the following: S. Baltazar, N.S. da Concei;ao, S. Joao E'llangelista, N. S. d
Nazare, Sto. Antonio, Santo Sacramento, S. Joao Baptista. One ship, probably the first, carried
42 guns. Joao de Menezes was 'General' and Cosme do Conto Barbossa 'Almirante'. They had
reached Toulon on 5 September.
2 Paul's ships were the Grand Anglais, Saint-Thomas (d'Aquin), Fortune, Triton, Dauphin
and Faucon with two fireships.
Apart from this one raid the operations of I 64 7 were mainly remarkable
for the way in which two large fleets managed to avoid one another until
almost the end of the year. In the spring, before the main Spanish fleet left
Cadiz, the French were off the coast of Catalonia, only to be back at
Marseilles by the time the Spaniards reached Cartagena. A little later,
when the Spaniards had taken their place and were in the neighbourhood of
Tarragona, the French were off Corsica, trying unsuccessfully to intercept
the galleys of Naples on their way to Final, near Genoa, with troops.
During August and September, while the Spaniards were making a very
slow passage from Tarragona to Naples, the French were for the most part
between Elba and Spezzia. When they left Toulon for the fourth time on
24 November, to support the Neapolitans in the rebellion, the Spanish fleet
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had already been there since I October. The two fleets did not even sight
one another until I 8 December when the French reached Naples in their
turn. Even then nothing decisive followed.
The object of the French appearance on the Spanish coast had been to
support Conde, recently made Viceroy of Catalonia, in yet another attack on
Tarragona, but this was soon abandoned. The young Due de Richelieu as
General of the Galleys and Commander-in-Chief with Des Gouttes as his
chief adviser left Toulon with some I4 ships and four fireships on I 5 April
and after being joined by I 6 galleys from Marseilles arrived off Palamos on
the I 8th and went on as far as Barcelona, only to learn that Conde had first
to take Lerida and had no prospect of playing his part. On I 4 May he was
back at Marseilles.
Meanwhile the Spaniards under Don John of Austria had left Cadiz on
7 May and after a short stay at Malaga had reached Cartagena on the I 4th
with 3 2 ships, eight fireships and six galleys. After landing troops and
stores at Vimaroz and Tarragona they were off Barcelona on the 30th just
as Richelieu was about to put to sea for the second time with 20 ships, four
fireships and I 3 galleys. He actually left Hyeres on 3 I May after having to
wait for a week for weather suitable for his galleys.
His objective was not the fleet from Cadiz but a force of I 8 ships and
I 2 galleys said to be on their way from Naples to Cagliari to embark biscuit
and eventually to join their main body. Nothing was seen of the sailing
ships, but on I3 June, when the French were at Porto Vecchio in Corsica,
I 2 Neapolitan galleys appeared. They withdrew at once and went on to
Final pursued by the French galleys, which arrived there on the 9th to
find that Doria, General of the Galleys of Naples, had landed his troops
and taken refuge in Savona. Considerations of Genoese neutrality pre-
vented Richelieu from attacking them there and his attempt to persuade
Doria to come out and fight galley for galley, as had happened in I 6 3 8,

came to nothing. By the beginning of July the French were back at

Before then, on I 8 June, Conde had been forced to raise the siege of
Lerida, while on 7 July Naples had risen in armed revolt. There was thus
no more work for the Spanish fleet off Catalonia and urgent need for it at
Naples, but it was not until IO August that it left Tarragona, to meet a
succession of gales and to be compelled three times to take refuge in Port
Mahon and stay there for several days. At length on 2 I September it left
there for good and on I October it actually reached Naples.
Meanwhile the French fleet had put to sea again on 2 I July and had spent
some weeks, not in attempting to intercept the Spaniards but in transporting
troops between Piombino and Spezzia. At the beginning of September
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there was a suggestion that it might make another appearance on the Spanish
coast and perhaps make a landing at Peniscola, IOO miles to the S.W. of
Barcelona. Nothing came of this and on 30 September, just as Don John
was approaching Naples, Richelieu at length left the neighbourhood of
Spezzia to look for him, taking only the sailing ships and sending the
galleys towards Genoa. Bad weather came on when he had got no farther
than Monte Cristo and after a short stay in Porto Longone he made for
home. On I7 October he anchored once more at Hyeres.
By then Naples was for the most part in the hands of the insurgents.
Neither the landing of Spanish troops nor the bombardment of their seaward
positions had been able to overcome their resistance, but their appeals to
France for help had so far proved vain and they were without a leader of
sufficient prominence to be able to achieve much in that direction. In this
difficulty they turned to the young Due de Guise, who was then in Rome and
who had in fact a very far-fetched connexion with the former rulers of Sicily.
Guise accepted the invitation at once and embarking with his followers in a
number of fishing boats at the mouth of the Tiber succeeded in making his
way past the small craft of the Spanish blockade and landing at Naples
on I 5 November, to be received with joy and soon to be proclaimed as the
'Doge' of an independent republic.
His appearance on the scene encouraged and even compelled the French
government to intervene. It gave the Neapolitans a leader who might be
able to free them from Spain, but at the same time it made it less likely that
they would be ready to become French subjects. What was necessary was to
send a fleet capable of defeating the Spaniards and at the same time impres-
sing on the Neapolitans the desirability of throwing in their lot with France.
With this in view the Toulon fleet, reinforced by ships bought in Sweden
and others from the Atlantic ports of France, left Toulon on 26 November
with Naples as its goal.
Richelieu was accompanied, as he had been in the previous operations, by
two advisers, Des Gouttes and the Bailli de Valen~ay, the one a professional
seaman of long experience, the other a landsman who had been in general
charge of naval organization in Provence and was now concerned with the
political side of the expedition. He had already advised against intervening
at Naples too soon and it was probably due to his influence that, when
intervention came, it accomplished little or nothing.
The following is a list of the French fleet:I
'Amiral' ( Breze'), 46 (Richelieu, Des Gouttes, Valen~ay); Lune, 3 6
(Du Me, Vice-Admiral); Mazarin, 40 (De Montade, Rear Admiral);
Grand Saint-Louis, 52 (Garnier, Chef d'Escadre); Jupiter, (Du Qyesne, so
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Chef d'Escadre); Cardinal, 40; Triomphe, 30; Grand Anglais, 40; Dunker-
quois, 30; Solei!, 34; l7ierge, 32; Dragon, 30; Lion couronne, 26; Tigre, 28;
Cygne, 30; Admirante, 34; Triton, 26; Saint-Thomas, 36; Faucon, 26;
Leopard, 28; Sourdis, 32; Saint-Paul, 28; Postilion, 24; Eminent, 36;
Chasseur, 28; Regine, 38.
There is no complete list of the Spanish fleet, but the following I 6 ships,
with seven fireships, were mentioned in the orders issued by Don John
before leaving Tarragona. 'Capitana', 'Almiranta', San Martin, San
Marcos, N.S. de las Maravillas, San Juan del Donativo, San Joseph, San
Jeronimo, Testa de Oro, San Juan Evangelista, 'Capitana de Dunquerque',
San Salvador de Dunquerque, 'Almiranta de Dunquerque', Sol de Jesus,
San Carlos, San Salvador de Menoya. The first I o were galleons, the San Carlos
an urea.
Bad weather scattered the French fleet soon after it had put to sea. It
reassembled at Piombino and Porto Longone and finally left the latter
port for Naples on I4 December. Two ships, the Saint-Paul and Faucon,
had to be left to repair damage suffered in collisions, while the Portuguese,
sent to Leghorn to replace the cables they had lost, did not rejoin, so that
it was with 24 ships and five fireships that Richelieu anchored off Naples
on I 8 December. The Spanish strength as reported to him on his arrival
was 42 ships and 2 I galleys, but the numbers by which he was faced at
I This is the list as given by Lacour-Gayet from a document in the Archives de Marine. Jal
makes the Grand Saint-Louis the 'Amiral' and puts Garnier in the Brlz! as the last ship in his list
he also omits the Leopard. References elsewhere make it clear that Garnier was in the Grand
Saint-Louis, while the Brlzl as a new ship just built at Toulon would be the obvious choice as
'Amiral', though this is nowhere actually stated. The Jupiter and the last three ships had been
bought from Sweden and brought from there by Du Q.p.esne. There were also three Portuguese
ships under Joao de Sequiera Varejao besides five French fireships and two transports.
Guns have been added from Le Conte's list of the French fleet in I 648; where he gives two
numbers the smaller has been shown. They total 88o and the statement that the fleet carried
more than I Boo must be a gross exaggeration even if the Portuguese, the fireships and the ships
left in reserve were included.

first were only 2 8 ships and I I galleys or by Spanish accounts 2 6 ships

(including six fireships) and three galleys. The discrepancy can be explained
to some extent by the fact that bad weather at the beginning of the month
had forced both ships and galleys, the latter in particular, to take refuge
where they could and that some were now at Baiae to the west of Naples
itself and others at Castelamare to the south.
For two days nothing happened. The weather was again bad, the French
engaged in negotiations with the insurgents and the Spaniards in re-
embarking their landing parties and getting their ships ready for sea. On
the 2 I st both fleets got under way, but Richelieu, instead of attacking the
main body of the enemy, went towards Castelamare and sent Du Me with
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the Triomphe, Triton, Cardinal, Tigre and the fireship Elboeufto attack three
Spanish ships and five galleys which were lying there with two merchant-
men. The galleys escaped to Naples, but the men-of-war were burnt by
their own crews and the merchantmen taken. Three ships from Garnier's
squadron, the Grand Saint-Louis, Solei/ and l7ierge, took some part in the
fighting and Leschasserie of the last ship was killed.
Next day the two fleets did at least come within range of one another.
As usual the two versions differ, but it seems clear that the Spaniards were
more ready to fight than the French, who are described by their opponents
as preferring a 'gentleman's war' and being careful to avoid coming to
close quarters. On the other hand it is said that only nine Spanish ships took
much part in the fighting, such as it was. Duro claims that these ships cut
through the French fleet and an independent account, certainly biased in
favour of the French,X agrees that the Spanish flagship and five other ships
did so without any attempt by the French to board. The same account sums
up the day's fighting as having been noisy rather than effective and that is
probably the truth. The French claimed to have sunk the 'Admiral of
Dunkirk', one of the largest galleons, and another big ship', but these
losses were more likely caused by a gale during the ensuing night.
Another partial action followed on the 29th and finally a 'horrible
tempest' in the night of 3 January I648 drove off the French for good.
Richelieu with I 6 ships got away northwards with difficulty, while the
rest took shelter off Castelamare. The Cigne and the fireship Coquette sank,
but without loss oflife. Next day the last French ships also withdrew and by
the I 2th the fleet was reunited off Genoa. On the I 7th it was back at H yeres.
The expedition had been. a failure and unless that failure could be
quickly redeemed Naples could not be expected to hold out for long. A new
French fleet of 36 ships and 20 galleys was got ready and Prince Thomas of

1 M!moim du Comte de Modene (3rd edn.) u, p. 285.

Savoy was made Commander-in-Chief. Richelieu retained his post as
General of the Galleys and was to take over the command afloat while the
Prince was ashore. The help came far too late; when the fleet reached
Naples on 4 June it was only to find that the insurrection had been crushed
and Guise taken prisoner almost two months before. The bulk of the
Spanish sailing ships had returned to Spain early in the year, but the
galleys proved quite able to prevent any large-scale landing and attempts
at Torre Annunziata to the east of the city and on the island of Ischia to the
west were repulsed. Leaving Italy, the fleet crossed to the Spanish coast to
support Schomberg's attack on Yortosa, which was taken on I 3 July. On
6 August it appeared again off Naples and achieved two small successes, the
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capture of the small island of Procida and a small-scale landing in the Gulf
of Salerno, but these petty conquests were soon relinquished. When a
considerable force of Spanish ships reached Naples at the end of the month,
they found no enemy to fight; the French had reembarked their landing
parties in the night of the I 3-I4 and returned to Toulon empty handed.
Just as they did so the riots of the Fronde broke out in Paris and soon
developed into civil war. The ending of the general European war with
the Treaty of Westphalia in October left France still at war with Spain
and might have been expected to allow greater efforts to be made to ensure
success in that direction, but as it was the French Mediterranean fleet was
almost completely paralysed and it was not until I 6 54 that anything like an
organized fleet could again leave Toulon.