MARSHAL ANNE-HILARION DE TOURVILLE
For by the dewy moonlight still,
He fed the weary-turning mill,
Or bent him in the chill morass
To pluck the long and tangled grass,
And hear above his scar-worn back
The heavy slave-whip's frequent crack!
A KNIGHT OF MALTA
 THERE has been a time in the history of the chief maritime nations of Europe when it has fallen to the lot of each to seize
and to hold the supreme sovereignty of the waters. Sometimes this mastery was for but a very brief duration; sometimes
it was jealously maintained for years. But always was it kept at the cost of the greatest and most heroic effort, and
lost because another power exceeded this endeavor.
One of these brilliant but short flashes of triumph came to France during the reign of Louis XIV, at the very outset of
her career as a recognized naval power. Of the four illustrious seamen who were largely responsible for France's
strength on the deep blue waters, none contributed quite so strongly as Admiral Anne-Hilarion de Tourville.
This valiant seaman was born at the castle of Tourville in Normandy in the year 1642, coming from a long line of noble
and distinguished ancestry. His father, the Baron de Tourville, died when he was five years old. Slender and pale,
 almost delicate, it was little thought that this frail boy was destined to spend forty-five years of his life in an
active and tireless service on the sea, and that he was to be counted the foremost commander of his time.
Tourville's noble birth automatically entitled him to become a member of the famous Order of the Knights of Malta. As a
preface to this distinction, at fourteen he became a page to the grand master of the Order. He served as page three
years, was then placed on probation a twelve month for the higher honor of Knight, and when eighteen years old stepped
into the much-coveted position.
This was a proud day for the youth—a day that opened his long career as a seaman. The ensuing seven years of his life
were spent on the Mediterranean, far from home, fighting the Moorish buccaneers who swarmed over the narrow seas, and
protecting the commerce of France from their ravages. These wild corsairs, the highwaymen of the Mediterranean, whose
haunts lay along the creeks and inlets of the North African coast, for more than a hundred and fifty years had been
stabbing the commerce of all Christian Europe. They had spread terror along the southern shores of that continent; they
had even ravaged the seaport towns of Spain, Italy, and Sicily; they had interrupted trading, held up
 rich convoys bound to distant marts, and chained thousands of unlucky Christian slaves to the galley benches of their
robber craft. Many of the greatest seamen of recent ages, admirals of Italy, Spain, France, and Holland, had spent the
best years of their lives in hunting down and trying to annihilate these leeches of trade. But their natural rivals and
untiring enemies, those whose special mission it had become to dispute and weaken their power, were the Knights of
Malta, themselves the Christian pirates of the Mediterranean, whose booty was these corsairs from the Barbary steppes.
The brilliant crusades against the Moorish crescent were carried on in a fleet of galleys most splendidly equipped.
Every Knight was obliged to serve in four cruises of six months each, and few it was of them who were not sorry when
their period of stirring adventure came to an official end. Young Tourville particularly started out upon his voyages
with gusto. In his very first encounter with the Barbary pirates he exposed himself heedlessly to the sweeping fire of
the enemy, and fought with such abandon of bravery that he won the admiration of friend and foe alike. In this encounter
he was finally wounded in three places, but insisted on staying on deck and using his gun.
Following came a long succession of heroic deeds. These brought him a reputation for
 ability and intrepid courage that spread from Venice to the royal court of France. The Venetian republic was so grateful
for his services in relieving her from the depredations of the Algerian sea-rovers that she bestowed upon him the titles
of "Protector of Maritime Commerce" and "Invincible Seaman." As a sequel Louis XIV, his own ruler, sent for him and
personally complimented him upon his fine exploits. Shortly afterward he received his commission as captain in the Royal
Navy, and was given the command of a ship.
Meanwhile the relations of France to other continental nations became strained. Finally, in 1672, she and Great Britain
united with the purpose of crushing the power of the Netherlands, as stated in a preceding section of this volume. In
this step France was largely actuated by her feeling of security in the navy which she had recently built up—a navy such
as she had never owned before, a navy that was the greatest pride of the King's heart, and one which he was very
desirous of trying out, like a boy with a new kite. Envy of the enormous commercial wealth of the Netherlands, with
Louis XIV at least, was a secondary consideration.
Great Britain, weary of hostilities, had withdrawn from the contest and had signed a treaty
 of peace with the Dutch. France was left to continue the war alone with her doughty antagonist. Determined to destroy
the commerce of the Netherlands, she sent her men-of-war to the Mediterranean.
In the battles that followed in southern waters Tourville took an active part under the leadership of Admiral Duquesne.
With him were many other gallant young Frenchmen, the pick of all France, but of them all none stood out so brilliantly
in action as the dashing, slender figure of Tourville himself, then thirty-four years old.
Allied with Holland, Spain was threatened with the loss of one of her most important possessions in the Mediterranean.
This was Messina, a seaport in Sicily, queen island of the South Sea. The people had risen in revolt against the
Catholic King, had captured the forts and gained almost entire possession of the city. Too weak, however, to maintain
the rebellion without foreign aid, the Messinese asked for the protection of the King of France.
At this stage of affairs Admiral Vivonne was lying at anchor with his fleet off the coast of Catalonia. With him were
such renowned seamen of France as Valbelle, Preuilly, and Tourville. He dispatched Valbelle, on September 27th,
1674,with a small squadron to help the insurgents.
 This failing to meet the demands of the occasion, in January a second expedition was sent with Tourville as captain.
Several forts had been retaken by the Spaniards in the meantime, among which were the Pharo and Reggio. Outside the
gates of Messina was encamped a Spanish army. This force, aided by a fleet of forty-one sail which guarded the entrance
to the Straits, pressed the city vigorously. Thus Messina lay, surrounded by land and sea, practically at the mercy of
the Spaniards when, on the 2nd of January, Valbelle appeared with his small squadron consisting of six war-ships, one
frigate, three fire-ships, and a convoy of supply vessels.
Favored by fresh winds and an incoming tide, the French flotilla dashed through the channel, swept past the barricade of
Spanish galleys, weathered the fire of the forts, and forced an entrance into the Straits with bewildering audacity.
Amazed to inaction the heavy men-of-war offered little resistance. Messina was relieved by a brilliant stroke.
But the new supply of provisions could not last forever. At the end of five weeks the stores were exhausted. Starvation
faced the rescued. The sorely besieged prayed that succor might reach them before it was too late. That prayer was
 In February Tourville's ships sailed into view, and soon followed more French ships in the shape of the squadrons of
Duquesne and Vivonne and Valbelle. This great force was more than the Spaniards could withstand. In a short time they
were put to flight, leaving half their number behind. Needless to say the victors were received with the wildest joy and
greatest gratitude when they entered Messina and brought huge stores of food to the besieged rebels.
During the remainder of the year of 1675 the French strengthened themselves in Sicily, and extended their conquests
along the southern coast.
On the 17th of August twenty-nine ships under Vivonne anchored in the bay before Agosta and opened fire on the forts
protecting the harbor. While this was going on Tourville was leading six ships to the mouth of the harbor. Despite the
galling fire to which he was soon subjected he forced an entrance and turned his broadsides upon Fort Avalo, the
strongest and most important of the enemy defenses.
As the fort still held out after a brisk cannonading, Tourville sent Cöetlogon with a small landing party to make an
attack at closer quarters. Under a storm of shot and stones the first barricade was then taken, but Cöetlogon's little
force was threatened with capture by his
numer-  ous foe. Alarmed for the safety of his friend, Tourville threw himself into a small boat with a few volunteers and flew
to the succor.
The Spaniards made a feint by running up a white flag. When the rescuers had come within range they let loose a wild
storm of artillery in their direction. But Tourville was not to be nonplussed. After an hour's obstinate attack, the
second barricade was carried, the fort surrendered, and the first landing party was saved. The town quickly thereafter
In reporting this success Tourville, as customary, gave the lion's share of the credit to his officers and men. But his
government, while up to this time slow to promote him, was not blind to the truth, and a year later the modest and
intrepid captain was rewarded with a commission as commodore.
PUNISHING THE BARBARY PIRATES
IMAGINE yourself gazing down upon the volcanic Islands of Lipari—the very outposts of Sicily—the rock sentinels that guard the
entrance to the Gulf of joy and act as finger posts for many a grizzled mariner as he feels his way along
 the shores of Italy past her beautiful Queen Island.
On Stromboli, which forms the gateway to the gulf, stands the great lighthouse of the southern sea. Rising more than two
thousand feet above the blue waters into which it has so often spat its molten saliva, Mount Etna in solitary grandeur
furnishes by night the ever-burning beacon to seamen which is denied to Lipari. At the foot of this centuries-old
volcano, under the open maw of fiercely-boiling flame, turbulent gases, and gurgling lava, the greatest seafighters of
the age have now gathered to measure their skill and prowess.
Sent by William of Orange to the Mediterranean to make a juncture with the Spanish fleet and force the rebel Sicilian
town to return to the allegiance of the King of Spain, the famous De Ruyter faces the French fleet with eighteen Dutch
men-of-war. Duquesne's force numbers twenty-five war-ships and six fire-ships. He has divided his flotilla into three
squadrons, one of which is commanded by Tourville.
For twenty-four hours the rival fleets lay watching each other warily, maneuvering to gain advantage of the wind. As the
first gray light of dawn begins to appear in the east on the morning of the 8th of January, 1676, a stiff breeze
 springs up to the advantage of the French. Without hesitation Duquesne orders sail set, and bears down upon his enemy.
The Dutch receive the onslaught with a firm front, retaliating with a heavy fire. From ten in the morning till ten at
night both sides fight with vigor, often coming to close quarters. From the deck of his ship, the Sceptre,
Tourville supports his leader valiantly, never failing to be in the hottest part of the combat. On one occasion he is
assailed by a huge three decker. The latter's heavy guns soon create havoc with his rigging, and his ship, crippled and
shot torn from bow to stern, is only saved by a French fire-ship that comes to his assistance.
Just before nightfall a squadron of nine Spanish galleys pounce down upon the French flag-ship, and annoy her with their
powerful chase guns, but Tourville sends several thirty-six pound cannon ball among them, and they scatter
precipitately. When darkness comes, the loss to the combatants has been about equal, each suffering considerably.
The next day both fleets receive reënforcement. But the battle is not renewed; Duquesne sails around Sicily and enters
Messina harbor from the south; De Ruyter goes first to Naples and afterward to Palmero to revictual and refit.
The most important action, however, was yet to take place.
 On April 22d, between Catania and Agosta, the French fleet of thirty men-of-war encountered the combined squadrons of
Spain and Holland, numbering three less ships. Bearing down quietly upon one another, no sign of hostility was apparent
until they were within musket shot range. Then suddenly both fleets let loose violent broadsides.
The conflict was prolonged and furious. Toward the close of the day De Ruyter's flagship succeeded in closing with the
Saint Esprit, at whose masthead flew the ensign of Duquesne. In a moment the two rival flagships were doing their
utmost to sink the other. All their available guns were aimed with the deadliest intent, and men stood ready with
boarding tools and weapons for the time when the crucial moment should arrive.
At this juncture Tourville observed his chieftain's predicament. With the Sceptre and Saint
Michel he appeared quickly on the scene, a ship at either side of the Dutch flagship. Neatly trapped, it was
by the utmost difficulty and only with a fine example of his famous seamanship that De Ruyter managed to extricate
himself without capture. However, he had been sorely wounded himself. Not until later did this knowledge come to the
French—not until their brave adversary's fleet had retired to Syracuse and De
 Ruyter's body had been consigned to the sea by his sorrowing countrymen.
By ten o'clock that evening the combat ceased. Next morning, in rain and mist, the combatants separated, the French to
keep to the seas until May 1st, after which they sailed into the harbor of Messina.
The death of De Ruyter was an irreparable blow to the Allied fleet. Robbed of the strength of its most able commander,
it is not to be wondered at that the next sea battle fought by the French proved to be one of the most signal naval
triumphs on record.
After restocking and repairing their ships, the Allies had sailed out of Syracuse harbor, doubled the island of Sicily,
and entered the port of Palmero, where they intended to await the movements of the French fleet. Their idleness was
COMPTE DE TOURVILLE.
On May 28th the French fleet of twenty-nine warships, nearly as many galleys, and almost a dozen fire-ships, put to sea
from the harbor of Messina. It passed through the channel of the Pharo, and sailed northward on a lookout for the enemy.
The Duke of Vivonne, viceroy of Sicily and nominal head of the Mediterranean fleet, was a member of the expedition,
having come along in person that he might share what was considered to be the last glorious venture of French
 arms. His flag was run up on Tourville's ship, the Sceptre, which thus became the chief vessel of the center.
Duquesne, as vice-admiral, took command of the vanguard.
Something like four days after leaving Messina, the French fleet sighted Palmero. There, before their eyes, the complete
fleet of the Allies rode at anchor, arranged in battle formation. On the right and left wings were the Dutch ships under
the command of Admiral Haan, who had succeeded De Ruyter. In the center the Spanish vessels were concentrated under De
Ibarra. The craft were three or four cable lengths from the entrance to the roadstead, some of them being sheltered by
the mole. In all there were in the combined Dutch-Spanish fleet twenty-seven ships-of-war, nineteen galleys, and four
No sooner had the French sighted the enemy than Vivonne called four of his most trusted officers for a most difficult
and perilous undertaking. Among them was Tourville, the youngest of the commodores. These officers were asked to make a
complete examination of the adversary's position, and to draw up a plan of his defenses.
The party set out in a small sailboat in broad daylight. Supported by the squadron of galleys, which were ready to
protect them with their guns at the slightest provocation, the valiant and
 devoted quartet of young Frenchmen entered the harbor and approached to within close range of the serried battle front.
Sailing up and down the enemy's line, Tourville and his companions made careful observations, no detail of the
arrangements of defense escaping their vigilant eyes. Struck with admiration at their audacious bravery the Dutch and
Spanish looked on silently. Not a gun did they fire.
Vivonne at once called a council of war to decide on a plan of attack. Tourville had already worked out a plan of
procedure in his active mind which he now presented to his commander-in-chief. So pleased were the officers with this,
especially Vivonne himself, that, after some discussion it was accepted with no little enthusiasm.
A stiff breeze was blowing from the northwest the next morning, the 2nd of June. Shortly after daybreak, aided by this
breeze, the French fleet sailed, in battle order, through the entrance to the harbor. They were led by nine selected
war-ships and five fire-ships which were to open action by attacking the head of the enemy's line. Every deck was cleared
for action, every man was at his post.
But before the French had swung into place, the Dutch opened fire. Their heaviest broadsides were poured into the bold
intruders. In return the French sent even more furious and
 well-directed charges across the waters at the Dutch. This made their ships quiver and waver. Along the whole line the
French fire was fully as terrible. The very impetuosity of their attack, coupled with the deadliness of their aim, soon
filled the Allies with fear and dismay. In less than half an hour the Spanish vice-admiral had cut his own cables and
drifted toward shore in a spasmodic effort to save his ship from capture.
With the line open, the French renewed their attack with greater vigor than before. Two more flagships were compelled to
cut their cables, and in the resulting panic other Dutch and Spanish ships followed suit. The French made good use of
their fire-ships, through their agency burning twelve enemy men-of-war, among them a Spanish and Dutch flagship. The
Capitane and Steenberg—Spanish and Dutch vessels, respectively,—blew up with fearful force, covering
the surrounding bay and some of their surviving craft with burning débris.
As the flames gathered headway and communicated to neighboring sister ships, consternation seized the Allies. Wild with
terror Dutch and Spaniards alike fled for refuge behind the mole. Here, subjected to new frightfulness in the form of
burning balls and shot-spraying grenades, which fell in showers on the city of Palmero, they fled inland.
 The victory could scarcely have been more brilliant and complete. By it the French had asserted their mastery of the
waters of the Mediterranean. The very blow that had relegated the strong navy of Spain into the dust had raised the navy
of France to the pinnacle of sea powers.
The famous treaty of Nimègue, signed on the 10th of August, 1678, between Louis XIV on the one side and half of Europe
on the other, marked the beginning of that dazzling period of naval supremacy which, during almost fifteen years, placed
France for the first and only time in her history at the head of maritime nations. The flag of every country saluted the
standard that floated proudly from the mastheads of the ships of France.
Not long after this, action on the seas again became imperative for the French. The commerce of Europe had been
endangered by the piratical swoops of the corsairs of Barbary. In order to effectually put a stop to these bare-faced
robberies of her merchantmen France decided it was advisable to attack the miscreants in their main retreat—Algiers. To
this lair it was their habit to lead their captured prizes, fortifying themselves against interference in its ample,
well caparisoned harbor. In Algiers it was truly suspected that thousands of Christian captives languished in foul
prisons and in wretched servitude.
 So in the summer of 1682, and again the following year, a French fleet under Duquesne and Tourville was sent to do what
it could to clean out this nest of the pirates. For the first time new weapons were to be used. Among the heavy
ships-of-the-line you might have seen small, flat-bottomed boats called bomb-galiots, each of which carried two mortars and four
Reaching the harbor of Algiers, the Frenchmen lost no time in letting the sea-robbers know they meant business. From the
warships cannon ball were thrown into the beautiful Moorish city, and from the mortars on the newly invented galiots
death-carrying, destructive bombs were rained upon the roofs of the buccaneers homes and storehouses and places of
amusement, as well as other buildings.
Palaces and mosques fell in a mass of ruins; storehouses were wrecked or burned; houses crumbled. The wives and children
of the pirates, the pirates themselves, their slaves and captives, could be seen running through the streets in frantic
quest of better shelter: Many captives took advantage of the terror of their brutal captors to run down to the water's
edge where, with outstretched arms, they mutely plead for rescue.
Tourville—now a vice-admiral, and first in every perilous enterprise—came and went in a small boat, subjected to
incessant fire from the
 shore, to direct and watch the work of the mortars. His heart ached for the supplicating captives, but it would have
been suicide to have attempted their rescue just then.
At length the Algerians sued for peace. But Duquesne and Tourville refused to listen until every Christian captive had
been delivered from bondage. Then for five days there was silence on the bay and a respite in the city, while boatload
after boatload of Christians were carried from the shore to the ships that were to take them from slavery back to their
almost-God-forgotten homes. Half-starved, hollow-cheeked, ragged, eyes dulled till only the fever-flame of life's last
piteous grip gave them Divine expression at all, more than seven hundred white slaves of the Barbary pirates were thus
restored to liberty. It was a proud day for Duquesne and Tourville, for it had brought them a greater trophy than ever
mere victory over an enemy at sea. No quantity of prize war-ships could ever equal their satisfaction at this saving of
their fellow men from a cruel bondage.
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