Laurent Jean François Truguet

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Laurent Jean François Truguet
Truguet 1832.jpg
Laurent Truguet in 1832;
portrait by Jean-Baptiste Paulin Guérin
Born10 January 1752
Died26 December 1839(1839-12-26) (aged 87)
AllegianceFrance (Ancien Régime
Bourbon Monarchy)
Service/branch Navy
Years of service17651804;
1809 – c. 1811;
1814 – c. 1819
Rank Grand admiral
Awardsmember of légion d'honneur, conseiller d'État, knight grand-cross of the order of Saint Louis, comte, peer of France

Laurent Truguet (10 January 1752, Toulon 26 December 1839, Toulon) was a French admiral.

Toulon Prefecture and commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Toulon is a city in southern France and a large military harbour on the Mediterranean coast, with a major French naval base. Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, Toulon is the capital of the Var department.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.



Youth up to the Revolution

Of aristocratic origins, and the son of a chef d'escadre, Laurent de Truguet entered the gardes de la marine in 1765. He navigated successively the Hirondelle, Provence, Atalante, Pléiade and Chimère. He won several prizes, awarded to the best gardes by Louis XV. He became enseigne de vaisseau in 1773 and had already been in eight campaigns by July 1778, when war was declared against England.

In the ancien Régime French Navy, the rank of chef d'escadre was equivalent to the present-day rank of rear admiral. It was replaced in 1791 by the rank of "contre-amiral".

Louis XV of France Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre 1715–1774

Louis XV, known as Louis the Beloved, was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who ruled as King of France from 1 September 1715 until his death in 1774. He succeeded his great-grandfather Louis XIV at the age of five. Until he reached maturity on 15 February 1723, the kingdom was ruled by Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, as Regent of France. Cardinal Fleury was his chief minister from 1726 until the Cardinal's death in 1743, at which time the young king took sole control of the kingdom.

Ensign is a junior rank of a commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries, normally in the infantry or navy. As the junior officer in an infantry regiment was traditionally the carrier of the ensign flag, the rank acquired the name. This rank has generally been replaced in army ranks by second lieutenant. Ensigns were generally the lowest ranking commissioned officer, except where the rank of subaltern existed. In contrast, the Arab rank of ensign, لواء, liwa', derives from the command of units with an ensign, not the carrier of such a unit's ensign, and is today the equivalent of a major general.

In the war in America, he served on the frigate Atalante then on the vessel Hector under the comte d'Estaing, and took part in the battle at Saint Lucia. Lieutenant de vaisseau from 1779, in the land attack on Savannah, he saved the life of admiral d'Estaing despite being severely wounded himself, for which he was made a knight of Order of Saint Louis.

American Revolutionary War War between Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies, which won independence as the United States of America

The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was an 18th-century war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies which declared independence as the United States of America.

Saint Lucia country in the Caribbean

Saint Lucia is a sovereign island country in the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. The island was previously called Iyonola, the name given to the island by the native Amerindians and later, Hewanorra, the name given by the native Caribs. Part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique. It covers a land area of 617 km2 and reported a population of 165,595 in the 2010 census. Its capital is Castries.

A lieutenant is the junior most commissioned officer in the armed forces, fire services, police and other organizations of many nations.

On the Languedoc then the Citoyen, he took part in various battles as a member of Guichen's then de Grasse's fleet (battle of Chesapeake, Battle of St. Kitts, Battle of the Saintes).

Luc Urbain de Bouëxic, comte de Guichen French admiral

Luc Urbain de Bouëxic, comte de Guichen was a French admiral who commanded the French fleets that fought the British at the First Battle of Ushant (1778) and the Battle of Martinique (1780) during the American War of Independence.

François Joseph Paul de Grasse French admiral

François Joseph Paul, comte de Grasse was a career French officer who achieved the rank of admiral. He is best known for his command of the French fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake in 1781 in the last year of the American Revolutionary War. It led directly to the British surrender at Yorktown and helped gain the rebels' victory.

Battle of the Saintes

The Battle of the Saintes, or Battle of Dominica, was an important naval battle in the Caribbean between the British and the French that took place 9 April 1782 – 12 April 1782, during the American Revolutionary War. The British fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney defeated a French fleet under the Comte de Grasse, forcing the French and Spanish to abandon a planned invasion of Jamaica.

Major de Vaisseau from 1784, he cooperated in the tasks assigned to M. Choiseuil-Gouffier, ambassador to Constantinople, and was charged with instructing the Ottomans in the arts of fortification, artillery, metallurgy, naval architecture, and so on. Truguet commanded a brig, the Tarleton, with which he re-mapped the hydrography of the Dardanelles in 1785 and 1786, and in 1787 published a "Traité de Marine" (Naval Treatise) at Constantinople.

Constantinople capital city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Byzantine Empire, and also of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261), until finally falling to the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, and dedicated on 11 May 330. The city was located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul.

Ottoman Empire Former empire in Asia, Europe and Africa

The Ottoman Empire, historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.

Brig sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts

A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. During the Age of Sail, brigs were seen as fast and maneuverable and were used as both naval warships and merchant vessels. They were especially popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Brigs fell out of use with the arrival of the steam ship because they required a relatively large crew for their small size and were difficult to sail into the wind. Their rigging differs from that of a brigantine which has a gaff-rigged mainsail, while a brig has a square mainsail with an additional gaff-rigged spanker behind the mainsail.

French Revolutionary Wars

On his return to France in 1789, he was sent to Brest in 1790 to take the command of a frigate there intended for a mission that was, in the end, rendered unnecessary by the course of events. He then made a trip in England for there to complete his naval education. Made capitaine de vaisseau on 1 January 1792, he was promoted as early as the following July to the rank of rear admiral, commanding the French naval forces in the Mediterranean from his flagship Tonnant (1798). He bombarded Nice, Villefranche and Oneglia, while general Montesquiou seized the Duchy of Savoy. That same year he and his fleet were instructed to cooperate in the Expédition de Sardaigne , a failed invasion of the island of Sardinia; he had moved to bombard Cagliari, when an insurrection broke out among the disembarking troops which obliged him to sail to the beaches and reembark them.

Captain (naval) Naval military rank

Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The rank is equal to the army rank of colonel.

Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks". In many navies it is referred to as a two-star rank (OF-7)/(O-7).

Nice Prefecture and commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Nice is the seventh most populous urban area in France and the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes département. The metropolitan area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits, with a population of about 1 million on an area of 721 km2 (278 sq mi). Located in the French Riviera, on the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of the Alps, Nice is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast and the second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region after Marseille. Nice is approximately 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from the principality of Monaco and 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the French-Italian border. Nice's airport serves as a gateway to the region.

Passing Corsica, he was received by the Bonaparte family and began a romance with Elisa, sister of the future Emperor and the close relations with the family which he would retain to his death. On his return to Toulon in March 1793, he went to Paris, where he got the government to adopt a maritime penal code, that would prevent many future insurrections and mutinies but still provoke much discontent in France's naval bases. He was discharged at the end of 31 May that year and imprisoned at the time of the publication of the law of suspects, but was liberated on 9 Thermidor (27 July).

He was promoted vice admiral in 1795 and minister of the Navy by the French Directory from November 1795 to July 1797. During his two years in this ministry, he reestablished discipline and order in France's harbours and arsenals, recalling former officers discharged due to the Revolution. Under pressure from general Hoche, he presented a plan for the 1796 French invasion of Ireland to the Directory, with Morard de Galle commanding the naval forces. This operation proved to be a complete fiasco. He organized and sent a division of frigates into the Indian Ocean under the command of Sercey.

He strove to get the colonies to respect the 1794 decree of the abolition of the slavery, and supported the creation of a collège intended for black and mixed-race children close to Paris; this collège later had the sons of Toussaint Louverture among its pupils, but was closed by Decrès in 1802.

Truguet also took the initiative in composing a new collection of naval tactics that would be adopted in year V of the French Republican Calendar. He broke with the exclusively defensive conceptions of the collection of 1769. He officialised and systematised the practice of having a light attack squadron within each fleet. This collection was later completed by the collection of year IX, also inspired by Truguet.

At the time of the ministerial reshuffle in preparation for the coup of 18 Fructidor year V (4 September 1797), he was replaced by Georges-René Pléville De Pelley, but was instead made France's ambassador to Spain. He was removed from the political scene under the pretext of not having returned to France fast enough at the end of his duties, though in fact this removal was down to Talleyrand, the minister of the foreign affairs, in revenge for Truguet opposing Talleyrand's embezzlements in Spain. Exiled to Holland, he remained there nine months. On his return from Egypt, Napoléon Bonaparte offered him the navy ministry again, but Truguet refused this, and was instead named conseiller d'État on 20 September 1801.

He composed four reports for the First Consul, proposing a reorganization of the navy and taking a strong position and courageous stand against the re-legalisation of slavery – Truguet's solid republican convictions made him consider equality as a fundamental right. He was probably the only official to dare oppose Bonaparte on this point, and was violently attacked and mocked by those favoring a return to the old order in the colonies and strongly reprimanded by the First Consul. Nevertheless, in 1802 he was given command of the combined force gathered at Cadiz, with the eminent title of amiral en chef. The squadrons of Linois, Gantheaume and Bedout had to gather at Truguet's HQ. The peace of Amiens brought the admiral back to Paris.

First French Empire

When war broke out again, Bonaparte entrusted to Truguet the organisation and command of the fleet at Brest, with his flagship being the Alexandre, then the Vengeur. In 1804, while all were conscientiously signing a "spontaneous" petition amidst his whole fleet to demand an imperial crown for Bonaparte, in the same way as was being done in the army, Truguet publicly took a stand against the establishment of the Empire in a letter that became historic. This consigned him to 5 years of severe disgrace, and the loss of all his titles and his membership of the légion d'honneur.

In 1809, the Emperor recalled him to command the squadron gathered at Rochefort, after the disastrous attack by English fireships in the raid on the île d'Aix. The following year, Napoleon put him at the head of the Kingdom of Holland's naval high command. Repulsed by foreign invasion, Truguet was one of the first to leave his post in the last years of the Empire.

Bourbon Restoration

Admiral Truguet returned to Paris where Louis XVIII brought him back into the navy at the head of the naval corps, and made him a knight grand-cross of the Légion d'honneur. During the Hundred Days, he received neither a command nor any favours from Napoleon. On the second restoration, he was given overall command of the Brest fleet, and received orders to keep the town's arsenal safe from the approaching foreign occupation troops. Succeeding in doing so, he was rewarded by the King by being made knight grand-cross of the order of Saint Louis, a comte, and a peer of France (5 May 1819).

At the end of the July Revolution, Truguet was elevated to the highest naval honour, that of Grand Amiral, naval equivalent to Marshal of France. He died aged 87 in 1839 in Toulon.


Certainly one of the most competent French sailors of his generation, Truguet was a convinced republican despite his aristocratic origins. He was an effective minister and reestablished a little order in the navy after the excesses of the Terror. On the other hand, he bears some of the responsibility for the fiasco of the expedition to Ireland. Few men like him with important responsibilities dared to oppose Napoleon's re-legalisation of slavery in the colonies or establishment of the Empire, and though his courageous stands made his relations with Napoleon complex and often stormy, Napoleon still considered him one of his better admirals and in difficult circumstances called upon him for confidential missions. He appears on the Arc de Triomphe.


Military offices
Preceded by
Jean-Claude Redon de Beaupréau
French Naval Minister
15 July 1797 27 April 1798
Succeeded by
Georges René Le Peley de Pléville

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