Kingdom of France
The Kingdom of France was a medieval and early modern monarchy in Western Europe. It was one of the most powerful states in Europe and a great power since the Late Middle Ages and the Hundred Years' War, it was an early colonial power, with possessions around the world. France originated as West Francia, the western half of the Carolingian Empire, with the Treaty of Verdun. A branch of the Carolingian dynasty continued to rule until 987, when Hugh Capet was elected king and founded the Capetian dynasty; the territory remained known as Francia and its ruler as rex Francorum well into the High Middle Ages. The first king calling himself Roi de France was Philip II, in 1190. France continued to be ruled by the Capetians and their cadet lines—the Valois and Bourbon—until the monarchy was overthrown in 1792 during the French Revolution. France in the Middle Ages was a feudal monarchy. In Brittany and Catalonia the authority of the French king was felt. Lorraine and Provence were states of the Holy Roman Empire and not yet a part of France.
West Frankish kings were elected by the secular and ecclesiastic magnates, but the regular coronation of the eldest son of the reigning king during his father's lifetime established the principle of male primogeniture, which became codified in the Salic law. During the Late Middle Ages, the Kings of England laid claim to the French throne, resulting in a series of conflicts known as the Hundred Years' War. Subsequently, France sought to extend its influence into Italy, but was defeated by Spain in the ensuing Italian Wars. France in the early modern era was centralised. Religiously France became divided between the Catholic majority and a Protestant minority, the Huguenots, which led to a series of civil wars, the Wars of Religion. France laid claim to large stretches of North America, known collectively as New France. Wars with Great Britain led to the loss of much of this territory by 1763. French intervention in the American Revolutionary War helped secure the independence of the new United States of America but was costly and achieved little for France.
The Kingdom of France adopted a written constitution in 1791, but the Kingdom was abolished a year and replaced with the First French Republic. The monarchy was restored by the other great powers in 1814 and lasted until the French Revolution of 1848. During the years of the elderly Charlemagne's rule, the Vikings made advances along the northern and western perimeters of the Kingdom of the Franks. After Charlemagne's death in 814 his heirs were incapable of maintaining political unity and the empire began to crumble; the Treaty of Verdun of 843 divided the Carolingian Empire into three parts, with Charles the Bald ruling over West Francia, the nucleus of what would develop into the kingdom of France. Charles the Bald was crowned King of Lotharingia after the death of Lothair II in 869, but in the Treaty of Meerssen was forced to cede much of Lotharingia to his brothers, retaining the Rhone and Meuse basins but leaving the Rhineland with Aachen and Trier in East Francia. Viking advances were allowed to increase, their dreaded longships were sailing up the Loire and Seine rivers and other inland waterways, wreaking havoc and spreading terror.
During the reign of Charles the Simple, Normans under Rollo from Norway, were settled in an area on either side of the River Seine, downstream from Paris, to become Normandy. The Carolingians were to share the fate of their predecessors: after an intermittent power struggle between the two dynasties, the accession in 987 of Hugh Capet, Duke of France and Count of Paris, established the Capetian dynasty on the throne. With its offshoots, the houses of Valois and Bourbon, it was to rule France for more than 800 years; the old order left the new dynasty in immediate control of little beyond the middle Seine and adjacent territories, while powerful territorial lords such as the 10th- and 11th-century counts of Blois accumulated large domains of their own through marriage and through private arrangements with lesser nobles for protection and support. The area around the lower Seine became a source of particular concern when Duke William took possession of the kingdom of England by the Norman Conquest of 1066, making himself and his heirs the King's equal outside France.
Henry II inherited the Duchy of Normandy and the County of Anjou, married France's newly divorced ex-queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who ruled much of southwest France, in 1152. After defeating a revolt led by Eleanor and three of their four sons, Henry had Eleanor imprisoned, made the Duke of Brittany his vassal, in effect ruled the western half of France as a greater power than the French throne. However, disputes among Henry's descendants over the division of his French territories, coupled with John of England's lengthy quarrel with Philip II, allowed Philip II to recover influence over most of this territory. After the French victory at the Battle of Bouvines in 1214, the English monarchs maintained power only in southwestern Duchy of Guyenne; the death of Charles IV of France in 1328 without male heirs ended the main Capetian line. Under Salic law the crown could not pass through a woman (Philip IV's daughter
The Yorktown or Virginia campaign was a series of military maneuvers and battles during the American Revolutionary War that culminated in the decisive Siege of Yorktown in October 1781. The result of the campaign was the surrender of the British Army force of General Charles Earl Cornwallis, an event that led directly to the beginning of serious peace negotiations and the eventual end of the war; the campaign was marked by disagreements and miscommunication on the part of British leaders, by a remarkable set of cooperative decisions, at times in violation of orders, by the French and Americans. The campaign involved land and naval forces of Great Britain and France, land forces of the United States. British forces were sent to Virginia between January and April 1781 and joined with Cornwallis's army in May, which came north from an extended campaign through the southern states; these forces were first opposed weakly by Virginia militia, but General George Washington sent first Marquis de Lafayette and Anthony Wayne with Continental Army troops to oppose the raiding and economic havoc the British were wreaking.
The combined American forces, were insufficient in number to oppose the combined British forces, it was only after a series of controversially confusing orders by General Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander-in-chief, that Cornwallis moved to Yorktown in July and built a defensive position, strong against the land forces he faced, but was vulnerable to naval blockade and siege. British naval forces in North America and the West Indies were weaker than the combined fleets of France and Spain, after some critical decisions and tactical missteps by British naval commanders, the French fleet of Paul de Grasse gained control over Chesapeake Bay, blockading Cornwallis from naval support and delivering additional land forces to blockade him on land; the Royal Navy attempted to dispute this control, but Admiral Thomas Graves was defeated in the key Battle of the Chesapeake on September 5. American and French armies that had massed outside New York City began moving south in late August, arrived near Yorktown in mid-September.
Deceptions about their movement delayed attempts by Clinton to send more troops to Cornwallis. The Siege of Yorktown began on September 28, 1781. In a step that shortened the siege, Cornwallis decided to abandon parts of his outer defenses, the besiegers stormed two of his redoubts; when it became clear that his position was untenable, Cornwallis opened negotiations on October 17 and surrendered two days later. When the news reached London, the government of Lord North fell, the following Rockingham ministry entered into peace negotiations; these culminated in the Treaty of Paris in 1783, in which King George III recognized the independent United States of America. Clinton and Cornwallis engaged in a public war of words defending their roles in the campaign, British naval command discussed the navy's shortcomings that led to the defeat. By December 1780, the American Revolutionary War's North American theaters had reached a critical point; the Continental Army had suffered major defeats earlier in the year, with its southern armies either captured or dispersed in the loss of Charleston and the Battle of Camden in the south, while the armies of George Washington and the British commander-in-chief for North America, Sir Henry Clinton watched each other around New York City in the north.
The national currency was worthless, public support for the war, about to enter its sixth year, was waning, army troops were becoming mutinous over pay and conditions. In the Americans' favor, Loyalist recruiting in the south had been checked with a severe blow at Kings Mountain in October. Virginia had escaped military notice before 1779, when a raid destroyed much of the state's shipbuilding capacity and seized or destroyed large amounts of tobacco, a significant trade item for the Americans. Virginia's only defenses consisted of locally raised militia companies, a naval force, wiped out in the 1779 raid; the militia were under the overall direction of Continental Army General Baron von Steuben, a prickly Prussian taskmaster who, although he was an excellent drillmaster, alienated not only his subordinates, but had a difficult relationship with the state's governor, Thomas Jefferson. Steuben had established a training center in Chesterfield for new Continental Army recruits, a "factory" in Westham for the manufacture and repair of weapons and ammunition.
French military planners had to balance competing demands for the 1781 campaign. After a series of unsuccessful attempts at cooperation with the Americans, they realized more active participation in North America was needed. However, they needed to coordinate their actions with Spain, where there was potential interest in making an assault on the British stronghold of Jamaica, it turned out that the Spanish were not interested in operations against Jamaica until after they had dealt with an expected British attempt to reinforce besieged Gibraltar, wanted to be informed of the movements of the West Indies fleet. As the French fleet was preparing to depart Brest in March 1781, several important decisions were made; the West Indies fleet, led by the Comte de Grasse, after operations in the Windward Islands, was directed to go to Cap-Français to determine what resources would be required to assist Spanish operations. Due to a lack of transports, France promised six million livres to support the American war effort instead of providing additional troops.
The French fleet at Newport was given a new commander, the Com
Battle of Ushant (1778)
The Battle of Ushant took place on 27 July 1778, was fought between French and British fleets 100 miles west of Ushant, an island at the mouth of the English Channel off the north-westernmost point of France. The battle, the first major naval engagement between the French and British fleets in the American Revolutionary War, ended indecisively and led to political conflicts in both countries; the British had a fleet of thirty ships-of-the-line, four frigates, two fire-ships commanded by Admiral Augustus Keppel, in HMS Victory, which sailed from Spithead on 9 July 1778. The French fleet had thirty-two ships-of-the-line, seven frigates, five corvettes and one lugger, commanded by Vice-Admiral Comte d'Orvilliers, who had sailed from Brest on 8 July 1778. Keppel sighted the French fleet west of Ushant at just after 12:00 on 23 July. Keppel ordered his battleships into line and set off in pursuit. At around 19:00, the French fleet began heading towards the British. Keppel, who did not wish to engage at night, had his ships hove to in response.
In the morning, d'Orvilliers, found himself to the north-west of the British fleet and cut off from Brest, although he retained the weather gage. Two of his ships, standing to leeward, escaped into port. Keppel tried for three days to bring the French to action but d'Orvilliers declined, maintaining his position upwind and heading into the Atlantic. At 06:00 on 27 July, with the British fleet line-abreast, Keppel gave the order for the rear division, under Sir Hugh Palliser, to chase to windward. At 09:00, the French, who had hitherto been sailing in the same direction, several miles to windward, went about once more; as the rearmost ships of the French fleet were tacking however, the wind changed allowing the British to close the gap between them and their quarry. At 10:15 the British were to leeward, line-ahead on the same course as the French. A little a change in wind direction brought about a rain squall which cleared at around 11:00. A further change in wind direction to the south-west gave advantage to the British which d'Orvilliers sought to negate by ordering his ships about.
The French, now heading towards British in a loose formation, would pass to windward. The French ships were a few points off the wind and d'Orvilliers ordered them close hauled which caused the French line to veer away from the British; the battle began at 11:20 when the fourth French ship in the line was able to bring her guns to bear. Keppel, who wished to save his salvo for the enemy flagship, received the broadsides of six French ships without reply. Once he had engaged the 110 gun Bretagne, he continued to attack the next six ships in the French line; as the British van, under Sir Robert Harland, passed the end of the French line, Harland ordered his ships about so as to chase the French rearguard, including the Sphinx. Palliser's ten ships at the rear had not formed line of battle but were instead in a loose irregular formation; this was in part due to Keppel's earlier order to chase the French ships to windward. Palliser's division therefore was badly mauled. At 13:00 Victory passed the last French ship and attempted to follow Harland but was so badly damaged in the masts and rigging that Keppel had to wear round and it was 14:00 before his ships were on the opposite tack.
It was about this time that Palliser in Formidable, emerged from the battle, downwind of Keppel's division. Meanwhile, the French line had tacked and was now heading south on the starboard tack and threatening to pass the British fleet to leeward; the French practice of firing high into the rigging had left several of the British ships disabled and it was this group that Keppel now stood down towards whilst making the signal,'form line of battle'. By 16:00, Harland's division had gone about and joined Keppel's ships in line but Palliser would not or could not conform and his ships, misunderstanding Keppel's intentions, formed line with their commander, several miles upwind from the rest of the British fleet. D'Orvilliers did not however attack the British fleet while it was divided into three sections but instead continued his course, passing the British fleet to leeward. At 17:00, Keppel sent the sixth-rate, HMS Fox to demand that Palliser join the main body of the fleet and when this failed, at 19:00, Keppel removed Palliser from the chain of command by individually signalling each ship in Palliser's division.
By the time those ships had joined Keppel, night had fallen and, under cover of darkness, the French fleet sailed off. By daylight the French were 20 miles away and with no chance of catching them, Keppel decided to return to Plymouth to repair his ships; the Duc de Chartres, Louis Philippe II d'Orléans, a French Prince du sang, who took part in the battle, requested permission to carry news of its outcome to Paris and Versailles. He arrived there early on the morning of 2 August 1778, had Louis XVI awakened, announced a victory. Chartres was celebrated and received a twenty-minute standing ovation when he attended the Paris Opera. An effigy of Admiral Keppel was burnt in the gardens of the Palais-Royal. Chartres returned to Brest to rejoin the fleet. Fresh reports of the battle and Chartres' role began to arrive in the French capital. Far from a victory, it was now reported as being at best indecisive, Chartres was accused by d'Orvilliers of either misunderstanding or deliberately ignoring an order to engage the enemy.
Chartres was soon mocked by street ballads in Paris, the embarrassment led to his eventual resignation from the Navy. He subsequently tr
Invasion of Dominica (1778)
The Invasion of Dominica was a successful French invasion of the island of Dominica in the British West Indies, during the American Revolutionary War. The action took place before British authorities in the Caribbean were aware that France had entered the war as an ally of the United States of America; the French governor in the West Indies, François Claude Amour, marquis de Bouillé, was notified on 17 August that France was at war, organized the invasion, infiltrating spies to rally sympathetic French-speaking Dominican support. Early on 7 September 1778, French forces landed on the southeastern coast of the island, they took over some of the island's defenses, gained control of the high ground overlooking the island capital, Roseau. Lieutenant Governor William Stuart surrendered the remaining forces. Dominica remained in French hands until the end of the war. Following the pivotal Battles of Saratoga in October 1777 and the ensuing surrender of British General John Burgoyne's army, France decided to enter the American War of Independence as an ally of the young United States of America.
France's objectives in entering the war included the recovery of territories, lost to Britain in the Seven Years' War. One key territory, of particular interest was the West Indies island of Dominica, which lay between French-held Martinique and Guadeloupe, had been captured by Britain in 1761. Recapture of the island would improve communication among the islands, deny the use of Dominican ports to privateers who preyed on French shipping. On Dominica, Governor Thomas Shirley had been concerned about the island's security since the war began in 1775. Operating against instructions from colonial authorities in London to minimize expenses for defence, he had pushed forward the improvement of a fort at Cachacrou and other sites; this work was incomplete. Command was left with Lieutenant Governor William Stuart, work to improve the defenses was still incomplete in August 1778, when François Claude Amour, marquis de Bouillé, the governor of the French West Indies, received word that war had been declared.
The French frigate Concorde reached Martinique on 17 August with orders from Paris to take Dominica at the earliest opportunity, de Bouillé made immediate plans for such an operation. He had maintained contacts in the Dominican population, dominated by ethnic French, including free people of color, during the years of British administration; as a result, he had an accurate picture of the condition of the Dominican defences, knew that the island's garrison numbered fewer than "fifty soldiers fit for duty". He was concerned with the whereabouts of the British Leeward Islands fleet of Admiral Samuel Barrington, more powerful than his own. Unbeknownst to de Bouillé, who had only assumed his post, was under orders to retain most of his fleet at Barbados until receiving further instructions; the British regular forces on the island, which in total numbered about 100, were distributed among defences in the capital Roseau, the hills that overlooked it, at Cachacrou. De Bouillé maintained a facade of peace in his dealings with Dominican authorities while he began preparing his forces on Martinique.
On 2 September he and Stuart signed an agreement that formally prohibited privateering crews from plundering. The next day de Bouillé sent one of his officers to Dominica to see whether a Royal Navy frigate was still anchored in Prince Rupert's Bay. Stuart, suspicious of the man, had him questioned and released. On 5 September de Bouillé was informed, he acted to launch his invasion. Some Frenchmen gained entry to the battery at Cachacrou that evening, plied its garrison with drink, poured sand into the touchholes of the fort's cannons, temporarily rendering them useless. De Bouillé had infiltrated some agents onto the island who had convinced some of the local French-speaking militia to abandon their duties when called up. After sunset on 6 September, 1,800 French troops and 1,000 volunteers departed Martinique aboard the frigates Tourterelle and Amphitrite, the corvette Étourdie, a flotilla of smaller vessels; the first point of attack was the battery at Cachacrou, where the British garrison, befuddled by drink and with inoperative cannons, was overcome without significant resistance around dawn on 7 September.
Two of the 48th Regiment's soldiers fell to their deaths. After securing the battery the French fired cannons and sent signal rockets skyward to signal their allies; these actions alerted Stuart at Roseau, the alarm was raised. Many of the French Dominican militia failed to muster. About 100 militia ended up mustering for duty, were deployed among Roseau's defences; the French proceeded to land more troops between Cachacrou and Roseau, with the objective of gaining the high ground above the capital. The main force of 1,400 men was landed about 2 miles south of Roseau near Pointe Michel, with heavy fire from the hill batteries resulting in 40 casualties. De Bouillé landed with another 600 at Loubiere, between Pointe Michel and Roseau, while another 500 landed north of Roseau, the fleet's frigates moved to bombard Roseau's
Action of 21 July 1781
The Action of 21 July 1781 was a naval skirmish off the harbor of Spanish River, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, during the American Revolution. Two French Navy frigates, led by Admiral Latouche Tréville and La Pérouse, engaged a convoy of 18 British ships and their escorts from the Royal Navy; the two French frigates captured two of the British escorts while the remainder of the British convoy escaped. The convoy, which consisted of eighteen ships, including nine coal-transporting and four supply ships, was bound for Spanish River on Cape Breton Island to pick up coal for delivery to Halifax; the escorting ships were the frigate Charlestown. A possible motive for the French attack was to make advances to reclaim Louisburg, a strategic fortress which the British had seized during the French and Indian War. Two French frigates Astrée, commanded by La Pérouse, Hermione, commanded by Latouche Tréville, attacked the convoy; the French damaged Charlestown, which lost its mainmast and a number of its officers, including Captain Francis Evans.
The French significantly damaged Jack, which lost its captain, subsequently struck her colors. The engagement ended at nightfall. Captain Rupert George of Vulture led the damaged escorts into a safe harbor. Six French and seventeen British sailors were killed. While the British escort was damaged, the convoy was still able to pick up a load of coal at Spanish River and deliver it to Halifax; the French captured the British ship Thorn off Halifax Harbor, along with three merchantmen, which they brought back to Boston. On October 6, Jack was taken to Halifax and released under the British command of R. P. Tonge, after a brief skirmish with two American privateers in Canso, took American prisoners to Quebec; the following year, the British recaptured Jack in the Naval battle off Halifax. The French commanders would go on to achieve further recognition for their performance. Latouche Tréville was named a hero of the Napoleonic war. La Pérouse became a famous explorer. American privateers attacked British mining on Cape Breton throughout the war.
American Revolution - Nova Scotia theatre American Revolution Franco-American alliance Military history of Nova Scotia
Invasion of Jersey (1779)
The Invasion of Jersey was a failed French attack on British-held Jersey in 1779, during the American Revolutionary War. A letter from Major Moses Corbet, Lieutenant Governor of Jersey, reported that on 1 May 1779, a French force attempted a landing at St Ouen's Bay. Early that morning, lookouts sighted five large vessels and a great number of boats some three leagues off the coast, proceeding towards the coast in order by a coup de main to effect a landing. Guns on the cutters, small craft supporting the landing, fired grapeshot at the defenders on the coast. By fast marching, the 78th Regiment of Foot and Jersey militia had arrived in time to oppose the landing, dragging with them some field artillery through the sand of the beaches; the defenders were able to prevent the landing, suffering only a few men wounded when a cannon burst. As the tide was ebbing, the French warships could not get close enough to support any landing, without their support, the captains of the transports were unwilling to bring their vessels inshore.
By some reports, the first and only vessel that attempted to land was either struck with a shot or dashed upon a rock. Twenty got ashore and surrendered, 15 or 18 men drowned, the rest got off safe; the French vessels held off a league from the coast, but left the area. On 2 May, a vessel from Jersey fell in with a convoy under Admiral Mariot Arbuthnot that had left Spithead en route to North America. Arbuthnot proceeded to the relief of Jersey with his ships. However, when he arrived, he found. Arbuthnot returned to his convoy, but his deviation resulted in the convoy not clearing the Channel until end of June, with consequent hardship for the troops in North America who were awaiting it. In 1787 the British placed a battery of three 24-pounder guns on the spot where the Rector of St Ouen, le Sire du Parcq, had placed guns to repulse the French attack. In 1834, the British built a Martello tower there. Known as Lewis Tower, it survives to this day. During the German occupation of the Channel Islands 1940-1945, the Germans built a large bunker next to Lewis Tower.
Campbell, John Berkenhout, Henry Redhead Yorke, William Stevenson Lives of the British admirals: containing an accurate naval history from the earliest periods
Action of 20 October 1778
The Action of 20 October 1778 was an inconclusive engagement between French ship-of-the-line Triton and British ship-of-the-line Jupiter with a frigate Medea that took place off Cape Finisterre in the Bay of Biscay. Darkness separated the combatants before any decisive result was obtained; the outbreak of the War of the American Independence had caused relations between France and Great Britain to deteriorate. After signing a formal treaty with the United States in February 1778, France broke diplomatic ties and declared war on Britain on 16 March 1778. On October 20th, the French ship-of-the-line Triton under Captain Comte de Ligondès, cruising on the Bay of Biscay, fell in with the British ship-of-the-line Jupiter, under Captain Francis Reynolds, the frigate Medea, under Captain James Montagu. At about 5 PM both sides were at close quarters; the French captain succeeded in turning the same broadside to both his assailants, putting Medea out of action with a thirty-six pound shot below the water line after the first half-hour of fight, but he was wounded in both arms soon afterward and had to hand over the command to Lieutenant de Roquart.
Medea retreated from the action. The Triton had thirteen killed and about twenty wounded, she had fifty shot in her hull or masts, her sails and rigging were much cut up, but Captain Reynolds reported that she was still able to sail; the Jupiter had to sail back into Lisbon for refit with seven wounded. Medea suffered three wounded. Citations BibliographyClarke, James Stanier; the Naval Chronicle: Volume 13. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-01852-4. Clowes, William Laird; the Royal Navy: A History from the Earliest Times to the Present, Volume 4. Sampson Low and Company; this article incorporates text from this source, in the public domain. Gréhan, Amédée. La France maritime. Pilout