Book review Book Review: "FRENCH WARSHIPS in the Age of Sail 1626 - 1786" by Rif Winfield & Stephen S. Roberts

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Book Review:
FRENCH WARSHIPS in the Age of Sail 1626 - 1786
Design, Construction, Careers and Fates

by Rif Winfield & Stephen S Roberts

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  • Hardcover: 464 Pages
  • Verlag: Naval Institute Press (1. Dezember 2017), Seaforth Publishing (30 Oct. 2017), Pen & Sword Books Ltd (25. Oktober 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1473893518
  • ISBN-13: 978-1473893511
  • Size: 25,4 x 3,3 x 28,7 cm


SYNOPSIS from Book Cover:

The origins of a permanent French sailing navy can be traced to the work of Cardinal Richelieu in the 1620s, but this naval force declined rapidly in the 1650s and a virtually new Marine Royale had to be re-created by Colbert from 1661. Thereafter, Louis XIV"s navy grew rapidly to become the largest and most powerful in the world, at the same time establishing a reputation for the quality of its ship design that lasted until the end of sail. The eighteenth century was to see defeat and decline, revival and victory, but by 1786 the French Navy had emerged from its most successful naval war having frequently outfought or outmanoeuvred the British Navy in battle, and in the process making a major contribution to American independence.

This book is the first comprehensive listing of these ships in English, and follows the pattern set by its companion volume on the 1786 - 1861 period in providing an impressive depth of information. It is organised by Rate, classification and class, with significant technical and building data, followed by highlights of the careers of each ship in every class. Thus for the first time it is possible to form a clear picture of the overall development of French warships throughout the whole of the sailing era.

Certain to become the standard English-language reference work, its publication is of the utmost importance to every naval historian and general reader interested in the navies of the sailing era.

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Press Comments:

"This is very useful to those of us who need a handy and quick reference to a variety of vessels. The citations plentiful.... f you need a ... top notch reference book to explore the careers of warships in the age of sail, there's really no better source." --British Tars, 1740-1790

"French Warships in the Age of Sail 1626-1786: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates by naval historian Rif Winfield with the assistance of Stephen S. Roberts is the first comprehensive listing of these ships in English, and follows the pattern set by its companion volume, British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates in providing an impressive depth of information. Profusely illustrated with b/w illustrations and ship construction images, French Warships in the Age of Sail 1626-1786 is impressively informative and comprehensive, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and university library Naval History collections and supplemental studies reading lists." --Midwest Book Review


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About the AUTHORS:

Rif Winfield
has made a lifetime's study or the sailing warship. Besides a number of journal articles, he is the author of The 50 gun Ship (published in 1997) and was responsible for bringing to fruition The.Sail & Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815-1889. This monumental work was planned by David Lyon as a follow-up to his Sailing Navy List but left incomplete on his untimely death. Rif not only filled the many remaining gaps with original research, but also revised and expanded the existing material, ensuring that it was accurate, exhaustive and original. He followed this with the even more demanding task of tracking down the career details of literally thousands of British sailing warships, many of which have made little impact on the written record. This painstaking compilation of information was published in four volumes covering the periods 1603-1714,1714-1792,1793-1817 and 1817-1863. This coverage of the British Navy's ships during the three and a half centuries that they were principally propelled by sail is meticulously researched and exhaustive in scope, constituting one of the most important reference works in the field of naval history.

Stephen S Roberts first visited the French naval archives in Paris in 1964 in connection with an undergraduate thesis at Harvard University. After five years of service afloat as an officer in US Navy destroyers he returned in 1973 for II months of research for a PhD dissertation, 'The Introduction of Steam Technology in the French Navy, 1818-1852'. Following receipt of his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1976 he continued to visit the French naval archives, collecting additional material for what became this book. In 1987 he edited for publication a classic work by Theodore Ropp, The Development of Modern Navy: French Naval Policy 1871-1904. A volunteer at the US Naval Historical Center for over 30 years, he prepared a detailed reference volume in 1991, Register of Ships of the US Navy, 1775-1990, Major Combatants, that was a radical update of a 1969 volume by K Jack Bauer, and he currently operates a website with extensive information on US Navy auxiliary vessels and other topics, www.shipscribe.com. This book continues the fruitful collaboration between the two begun with French Warships in the Age of Sail 1786-1861, published in 2015.


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Detailed CONTENTS:

Preface
Acknowledgments
Structure and Organisation of the Book
French Naval Technology and Organisation from Colbert to Castries
The Small Three-decked Ship of the Line
Mixed Calibres on Gun Decks
Changes in Ship Rankings, 1669-1716
Appearance and Design
Flags
Ordnance
Manning Levels
Administration of the Navy
Dockyards and Infrastructure
Use of Navy ships for Privateering (Armaments Mixtes)
Historical Overview
Chronology
French Naval Operations from 1626 to 1786
Sources and Bibliography
Glossary and Abbreviations
Preamble: The Legacy of Richelieu and Mazarin — Ships of the French Navy from 1626 to 1661
(A) The French fleet in September 1661.
Chapter 1 The First Rank (Vaisseaux du premier rang) with 80 or more guns after 1715
(A) Vessels in service as at 9 March 1661
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Three-decked vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
(E) 80-gun two-decked vessels (Vaisseaux de 80) acquired from 1740
Chapter 2 The Second Rank (Vaisseaux du second rang) with 68 to 78 guns after 1715
(A) Vessels in service as at 9 March 1661
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) 74-gun two-decked vessels (Vaisseaux de 74) acquired from 1 September 1715
Chapter 3 The Third Rank (Vaisseaux du troisieme rang) with 56 to 66 guns after 1715
(A) Vessels in service as at 9 March 1661
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) 24pdr- and 36pdr-armed vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
(E) 18pdr-armed vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
Chapter 4 The Fourth Rank (Vaisseaux du quatrieme rang) with 40 to 54 guns after 1715, sometimes described as Frigates of the 1st Order (Frigates du 1 er ordre), and 12pdr-armed and larger frigates after 1747
(A) Vessels in service as at 9 March 1661
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
(E) 12pdr-armed frigates (Frigates de 12) acquired from 1747
(F) 12pdr-armed vessels (two-deckers) acquired in 1770
(G) 18pdr-armed frigates (Frigates de 18) acquired from 1772
Chapter 5 The Fifth Rank (Vaisseaux du cinquieme rang) sometimes described as Frigates of the 2nd Order (Frigates du 2' ordre), and 8pdr-armed frigates after 1740
(A) Vessels in service as at 9 March 1661
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
(E) 8pdr-armed frigates (Frigates de 8) acquired from 1740
Chapter 6 Light Frigates (Fregates legeres)
(A) Frigates in service as at 9 March 1661
(B) Frigates acquired from 9 March 1661 49
(C) Frigates acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) 6pdr-armed frigates legeres acquired from 1 54 September 1715
(E) 8pdr- and 12pdr-armed frigates legeres acquired from 55 1 September 1715
Chapter 7 Bomb Vessels and other Coastal Warfare Craft (Galiotes 239 56 a mortiers, Galiotes a bombes, Prames, Chaloupes-canonnieres, etc)
Bomb Vessels

(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
Prams (Prames)
(D) Vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
Floating Batteries
(D) Vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
Gunboats (Chaloupes-canonnieres) and mortar boats (Chaloupes-carcassieres)
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
Chapter 8 Fireships (Brklots)
(A) Vessels in service as at 9 March 1661
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
Chapter 9 Storeships and Cargo Ships (Flutes and Gabarres) Storeships (Flutes)
(A) Vessels in service as at 9 March 1661
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
Cargo Ships (Gabarres)
(A) Vessels acquired from 1714
Chapter 10 Corvettes and Barques Longues
(A) Vessels in service as at 9 March 1661
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Corvettes with 4pcir guns acquired from December 1715
(E) Corvettes with 6pdr (or heavier) guns acquired from 1763
Chapter 11 Minor Warships - Ponant types (Barques, Brigantines, Snows, Cutters, Luggers, Schooners, Brigs, etc)
(A) Vessels in service as at 9 March 1661
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
Chapter. 12 Minor Warships — Levant types (Barques, Brigantines, Tartanes, Feluccas, Xebecs, etc)
(A) Vessels in service as at 9 March 1661
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
Chapter 13 Minor Support Vessels
Cargo Vessels
(A) Vessels in service as at 9 March 1661
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Vessels acquired from I September 1715
Supply and Patrol Vessels
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Vessels acquired from I September 1715
Yachts, Traversiers, and Paquebots
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
Addendum The Galley Corps (corps des galeres)
(A) Vessels acquired before 9 March 1661
(B) Vessels acquired from 9 March 1661
(C) Vessels acquired from 15 April 1689
(D) Vessels acquired from 1 September 1715
Appendix A. Strength of the French Navy, 1660-1786
Appendix B. Financial Expenditures on the French Navy, 1662-1786
Appendix C. French Warship Ranks and Changes in Ranks, I 669-1789
Appendix D. Standard Armaments of French Ships, 1674 and 1689
Appendix E. French Monarchs, Political and Naval Leaders, 1626-1786
Appendix F Selected French Master Shipwrights and Master Sculptors, 1661-1786
Appendix G. Action stations of the 80-gun ship of the line Foudroyant of 1750
Appendix H. Colbert's mass ship renamings of 24 June 1671
Appendix J. Lists of the French Fleet as at 1672 – 1702 – 1712 – 1723 – 1734 – 1743 – 1752 – 1765 -1772 and 1786
Index to Named Vessels

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REVIEW:

This is a book that I would recommend highly. Students of British Royal Naval design and construction during the age of sail will already be familiar with the extensive series compiled by Rif Winfield over nearly two decades of dedication. Students of French naval design and construction during the same period, will have almost certainly acquired and studied the well received and structurally similar French Warships in the Age of Sail 1786-1861 which was itself a collaboration between the two authors of the current work. This new work actually represents a prequel to the first volume in the series and is, in my opinion, of even more seminal importance to students of the subject than its predecessor. Why? Because material on this earlier period in French design and construction, while available in French for students of Alain Demerliac and Jean Boudriot, was rather more fragmentary and difficult to deal with for even dedicated students of the subject. The authors of this current English language compilation have not only gone to very great lengths to organize the frequently overly complex French system(s) of warship classification, but have done a great deal of original research on their own to fill in and resolve the gaps and discrepencies of these two most excellent French authors. Both coauthors have the very great advantage of being fully bilingual, but Stephen Roberts has the additional advantage of having cut his teeth researching the French naval archives in pursuit of his doctorate.
I rather doubt if a more authoritative presentation of data on the totality of French naval construction in the pre-Revolutionary years is ever going to be accomplished, but this weighty tome has value beyond a nuts and bolts compilation of French sail and oared warships and auxiliaries.
Readers not greatly interested in the construction details and operational histories of individual French vessels, but interested in the design imperatives, both from within and outside of France herself, that drove French naval policy can find their heart’s delight in the descriptive preambles to the various sections of the work. This is not just a compilation of data for data freaks (like myself), but a valuable starting point for comparative analysis of the various fleets constructed by the Great Powers in the years preceding the steam era.
Readers less interested in the ships themselves, but in what was done with them can use the various sections of the introduction as a summation of French naval operational history, while even basic students of French political and economic history during the reign of the Louis’ can find much value in the background material set forth.
Finally, those readers who value books for their visual content, have a treat in store. While the illustrations and the sheer and profiles are in black and white, they represent (I suspect) the loving and anonymous work of the series editor at Seaforth Publishing, Robert Gardiner, whose access to such material is unrivalled as a result of his decades of work in the field. The captions to the illustrations are, I again suspect, are the work of all three of these gentlemen and are worth the price of the book in and of themselves.
I admit to being a bit prejudiced on this subject, since I am friends with the authors and have watched this project unfolding slowly and painfully over several years, but I cannot recommend it highly enough.


by John M. Tredrea on amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/French-Warships-Age-Sail-1626/dp/1473893518

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to complete the french Navy information please take also a look at the other Book Review of
FRENCH WARSHIPS in the Age of Sail 1786 - 1862
by Rif Winfield & Stephen S. Roberts

 
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