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|Pierre Charles Silvestre de Villeneuve|
Pierre-Charles-Jean-Baptiste-Silvestre de Villeneuve
|Born|| 31 December 1763|
|Died|| 22 April 1806 42) (aged|
|Battles/wars|| American Revolutionary War |
French Revolutionary Wars
Pierre-Charles-Jean-Baptiste-Silvestre de Villeneuve (31 December 1763 – 22 April 1806) was a French naval officer during the Napoleonic Wars. He was in command of the French and the Spanish fleets that were defeated by Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar.
The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).
Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, was a British flag officer in the Royal Navy. He was noted for his inspirational leadership, grasp of strategy, and unconventional tactics, which together resulted in a number of decisive British naval victories, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. He was wounded several times in combat, losing the sight in one eye in Corsica at the age of 36, as well as most of one arm in the unsuccessful attempt to conquer Santa Cruz de Tenerife when 40 years of age. He was shot and killed at the age of 47 during his final victory at the Battle of Trafalgar near the Spanish port city of Cádiz in 1805.
The Battle of Trafalgar was a naval engagement fought by the British Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars (1796–1815).
Villeneuve was born in 1763 at Valensole, Basses Alpes, and joined the French Navy in 1778. He took part in Naval operations in the American Revolutionary War, serving as an ensign on Marseillais, in de Grasse's fleet.
Valensole is a commune in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department in southeastern France.
Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is a department in Southeastern France, located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. Formerly part of the province of Provence, it had a population of 161,916 in 2013. Its main cities are Digne-les-Bains (prefecture), Manosque, Sisteron, Barcelonnette, Castellane and Forcalquier. Inhabitants of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence are called the Bas-Alpins or Bas-Alpines referring to the department of Basses-Alpes which was the former name of the department until 1970.
The French Navy, informally "La Royale", is the maritime arm of the French Armed Forces. Dating back to 1624, the French Navy is one of the world's oldest naval forces. It has participated in conflicts around the globe and played a key part in establishing the French colonial empire.
Despite his aristocratic ancestry, he sympathised with the French Revolution, dropping the nobiliary particle from his name, and was able to continue his service in the Navy when other aristocratic officers were purged. He served during several battles, and was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1796 as a result of this.
The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.
A nobiliary particle is used in a surname or family name in many Western cultures to signal the nobility of a family. The particle used varies depending on the country, language and period of time. However, in some languages the nobiliary particle is the same as a regular prepositional particle that was used in the creation of many surnames. In some countries, it became customary to distinguish the nobiliary particle from the regular one by a different spelling, although in other countries these conventions did not arise, occasionally resulting in ambiguity. The nobiliary particle can often be omitted in everyday speech or certain contexts.
At the Battle of the Nile in 1798 he was in command of the rear division. His ship, Guillaume Tell, was one of only two French ships of the line to escape the defeat. He was captured soon afterwards when the British took the island of Malta, but he was soon released. He was criticised for not engaging the British at the Nile, but Napoleon considered him a "lucky man" and his career was not affected.
The Battle of the Nile was a major naval battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the Navy of the French Republic at Aboukir Bay on the Mediterranean coast off the Nile Delta of Egypt from the 1st to the 3rd of August 1798. The battle was the climax of a naval campaign that had raged across the Mediterranean during the previous three months, as a large French convoy sailed from Toulon to Alexandria carrying an expeditionary force under General Napoleon Bonaparte. The British fleet was led in the battle by Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson; they decisively defeated the French under Vice-Admiral François-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers.
Malta, officially known as the Republic of Malta, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km (50 mi) south of Italy, 284 km (176 mi) east of Tunisia, and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya. With a population of about 475,000 over an area of 316 km2 (122 sq mi), Malta is the world's tenth smallest and fifth most densely populated country. Its capital is Valletta, which is the smallest national capital in the European Union by area at 0.8 km². The official languages are Maltese and English, with Maltese officially recognised as the national language and the only Semitic language in the European Union.
In 1804, Napoleon ordered Villeneuve, now a Vice Admiral stationed at Toulon, to escape from the British blockade, overcome the British fleet in the English Channel, and allow the planned invasion of Britain to take place. To draw off the British defences, Villeneuve was to sail to the West Indies, where it was planned that he would combine with the Spanish fleet and the French fleet from Brest and attack British possessions in the Caribbean, before returning across the Atlantic to destroy the British Channel squadrons and escort the Armée d'Angleterre from their camp at Boulogne to victory in England.
Toulon is a city in southern France and a large port 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.
The English Channel, also called simply the Channel, is the body of water that separates Southern England from northern France and links the southern part of the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. It is the busiest shipping area in the world.
Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.
After an abortive expedition in January, Villeneuve finally left Toulon on 29 March 1805 with eleven ships of the line. He evaded Nelson's blockade, passed the Strait of Gibraltar on 8 April and crossed the Atlantic with Nelson's fleet in pursuit, but about a month behind owing to unfavourable winds. In the West Indies Villeneuve waited for a month at Martinique, but Admiral Ganteaume's Brest fleet did not appear. Eventually Villeneuve was pressured by French army officers into beginning the planned attack on the British, but he succeeded only in recapturing the island fort of Diamond Rock off Martinique. On 7 June he learned that Nelson had reached Antigua. On 8 June he and his fleet were able to intercept a homeward-bound convoy of 15 British merchant vessels escorted by the frigate HMS Barbadoes and the sloop or schooner HMS Netley. The two British warships managed to escape, but Villeneuve's fleet captured the entire convoy, valued at some five million pounds. Villeneuve then sent the prizes into Guadeloupe under the escort of the frigate Sirène. On 11 June Villeneuve set out for Europe with Nelson again in pursuit.
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Gibraltar and Peninsular Spain in Europe from Morocco and Ceuta (Spain) in Africa. The name comes from the Rock of Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq named after Tariq ibn Ziyad. It is also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, the Gut of Gibraltar, the STROG in naval use, and Bab Al Maghrib, "Gate of the West". In the Middle Ages, Muslims called it Al-Zuqaq, "The Passage", the Romans called it Fretum Gatitanum, and in the ancient world it was known as the "Pillars of Hercules".
Martinique is an insular region of France located in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of 1,128 square kilometres (436 sq mi) and a population of 376,480 inhabitants as of January 2016. Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. One of the Windward Islands, it is directly north of Saint Lucia, southeast of Greater Antilles, northwest of Barbados, and south of Dominica.
Count Honoré Joseph Antoine Ganteaume was a French Navy officer and Vice-admiral.
On 22 July Villeneuve, now with twenty ships of the line and seven frigates, passed Cape Finisterre on the northwest coast of Spain and entered the Bay of Biscay. Here he met a British fleet of fifteen ships of the line commanded by Vice Admiral Sir Robert Calder. In the ensuing Battle of Cape Finisterre, a confused action in bad visibility, the British, though outnumbered, were able to cut off and capture two Spanish ships.
For two days Villeneuve shadowed the retreating British, but did not seek a battle. Instead he sailed to A Coruña, arriving on 1 August. Here he received orders from Napoleon to sail to Brest and Boulogne as planned. Instead, perhaps believing a false report of a superior British fleet in the Bay of Biscay, and against the Spanish commanders' objections, he sailed away back to Cádiz, rendering Napoleon's planned invasion of Britain wholly impossible.
At Cádiz the combined French and Spanish fleets were kept under blockade by Nelson. In September, Villeneuve was ordered to sail for Naples and attack British shipping in the Mediterranean, but he was initially unwilling to move and continued in blatant disregard of Superior Admiralty Orders.
In mid-October he learned that Napoleon was about to replace him as commanding officer with François Étienne de Rosily-Mesros and order him to Paris to account for his actions. (Napoleon had written to the Minister of Marine, "Villeneuve does not possess the strength of character to command a frigate. He lacks determination and has no moral courage.") Before his replacement could arrive, Villeneuve gave the order to sail on 18 October.
Inexperienced crews and the difficulties of getting out of Cádiz meant that it took two days to get all 34 ships out of port and in some kind of order. On 21 October 1805 Villeneuve learned of the size of the British fleet, and turned back to Cádiz, but the combined fleets were intercepted by Nelson off Cape Trafalgar. Nelson, though outnumbered, won the Battle of Trafalgar, and Villeneuve's flagship Bucentaure was captured along with many other French and Spanish ships.
The British sent Villeneuve to England but released him on parole; during this time he lived in Bishop's Waltham in Hampshire. He stayed at the Crown Inn public house and his men, who numbered 200, stayed in local houses. He was allowed to attend the funeral of Lord Nelson whilst at Bishop's Waltham. Freed in late 1805, he returned to France, where he attempted to go back into military service but his requests were not answered. On 22 April 1806, he was found dead at the Hôtel de la Patrie in Rennes with six stab wounds in the left lung and one in the heart:a verdict of suicide was recorded. The nature of his death ensured that this verdict was much mocked in the British press of the time and suspicions abounded that Napoleon had secretly ordered Villeneuve's murder.
Historians have not been kind to Villeneuve. According to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, "His decision to leave Cádiz and give battle in October 1805, which led directly to the Battle of Trafalgar, cannot be justified even on his own principles. He foresaw defeat to be inevitable, and yet he went out solely because he learnt from the Minister of Marine that another officer had been sent to supersede him ... It was provoked in a spasm of wounded vanity." Despite the defeat at Trafalgar his name is etched on the Arc de Triomphe.
C. S. Forester's unfinished novel, Hornblower and the Crisis , had Horatio Hornblower planting false orders from Napoleon to Villeneuve sending Villeneuve out to fight the British fleet. In another novel by Alexander Kent (the penname of Douglas Reeman), Honour This Day, a battle between the British and Spanish navies is described as the British try to prevent the Spaniards from joining forces with the French navy under Villeneuve.
Cosme Damián de Churruca y Elorza was a Basque Spanish noble, an Admiral of the Royal Spanish Armada, scientist and Mayor of Mutriku, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar while commanding the ship of the line San Juan Nepomuceno.
In the Battle of Cape Finisterre off Galicia, Spain, the British fleet under Admiral Robert Calder fought an indecisive naval battle against the combined Franco-Spanish fleet which was returning from the West Indies. Failing to prevent the joining of French Admiral Pierre de Villeneuve's fleet to the squadron of Ferrol and to strike the shattering blow that would have freed Great Britain from the danger of an invasion, Calder was later court-martialled and severely reprimanded for his failure and for avoiding the renewal of the engagement on 23 and 24 July. At the same time, in the aftermath Villeneuve elected not to continue on to Brest, where his fleet could have joined with other French ships to clear the English Channel for an invasion of Great Britain.
Formidable was an 80-gun Tonnant class ship of the line of the French Navy, laid down in August 1794 and given the name Formidable, on 5 October, but renamed Figuieres on 4 December 1794, although the name was restored to Formidable on 31 May 1795 after she was launched at Toulon on 17 March 1795. She participated in the Battle of Algeciras, the Battle of Cape Finisterre and several other actions before the British captured her at the Battle of Cape Ortegal on 4 November 1805. The British took her into service as HMS Brave. She was sold to be broken up in April 1816.
Scipion was a 74-gun French ship of the line, built at Lorient to a design by Jacques Noel Sane. She was launched as Orient in late 1798, and renamed Scipion in 1801. She was first commissioned in 1802 and joined the French Mediterranean fleet based at Toulon, in the squadron of Admiral Leissègues. Consequently she was one of the ships afloat in that port when war with England reopened in May 1803. She participated in the Battle of Cape Finisterre and the Battle of Trafalgar. The British captured her in the subsequent Battle of Cape Ortegal. In 1810 she participated in the Java campaign, which in 1847 earned her surviving crew the Naval General Service Medal. She participated in the blockade of Toulon in 1813 and was paid off in 1814. She was broken up in 1819.
Neptune was a Bucentaure-class 80-gun ship of the line of the French Navy. Built during the last years of the French Revolutionary Wars she was launched at the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars. Her brief career with the French included several major battles, though she spent the last 12 years of her life under the Spanish flag.
Indomptable ("Indomitable") was a Tonnant-class 80-gun ship of the line in the French Navy, laid down in 1788 and in active service from 1791. Engaged against the Royal Navy after 1794, she was damaged in the Battle of Trafalgar and wrecked near the Spanish city of Cadiz on 24 October 1805.
Ignacio María de Álava y Sáenz de Navarrete was a Spanish naval officer, present at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Federico Carlos Gravina y Nápoli, OCIII, KOS was a Spanish Admiral during the American Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. He died of wounds sustained during the Battle of Trafalgar. Spanish explorer Jacinto Caamaño named the Gravina Island in Alaska in his honor.
Rear-Admiral Sir George Johnstone Hope, KCB was a British naval officer, who served with distinction in the Royal Navy throughout the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, including service at the Battle of Trafalgar. A close personal friend of Admiral Nelson, he received many honours following the battle, and later served as a Lord of the Admiralty.
John Cooke was an experienced and highly regarded officer of the Royal Navy during the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary Wars and the first years of the Napoleonic Wars. Cooke is best known for his death in hand-to-hand combat with French forces during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. During the action, his ship HMS Bellerophon was badly damaged and boarded by sailors and marines from the French ship of the line Aigle. Cooke was killed in the ensuing melee, but his crew successfully drove off their opponents and ultimately forced the surrender of Aigle.
William Prowse CB was an officer of the Royal Navy, who saw service during the American War of Independence, and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Rising from humble origins and joining the navy as an able seaman, he had a highly active career, serving under some of the most famous naval commanders of the age of sail, and participating in some of their greatest victories. He was at Grenada and Martinique under Byron and Rodney, the Glorious First of June under Howe; and commanded ships at Cape St Vincent under Jervis, Cape Finisterre under Calder and Trafalgar under Nelson. He finished his career by serving with distinction in the Mediterranean, and died with the rank of Rear-Admiral.
The Atlantic campaign of 1806 was one of the most important and complex naval campaigns of the post-Trafalgar Napoleonic Wars. Seeking to take advantage of the withdrawal of British forces from the Atlantic in the aftermath of the Battle of Trafalgar, Emperor Napoleon ordered two battle squadrons to sea from the fleet stationed at Brest, during December 1805. Escaping deep into the Atlantic, these squadrons succeeded in disrupting British convoys, evading pursuit by British battle squadrons and reinforcing the French garrison at Santo Domingo. The period of French success was brief: on 6 February 1806 one of the squadrons, under Vice-Admiral Corentin Urbain Leissègues, was intercepted by a British squadron at the Battle of San Domingo and destroyed, losing all five of its ships of the line.
The Trafalgar Campaign was a long and complicated series of fleet manoeuvres carried out by the combined French and Spanish fleets; and the opposing moves of the Royal Navy during much of 1805. These were the culmination of French plans to force a passage through the English Channel, and so achieve a successful invasion of the United Kingdom. The plans were extremely complicated and proved to be impractical. Much of the detail was due to the personal intervention of Napoleon, who as a soldier rather than a sailor failed to consider the effects of weather, difficulties in communication, and the Royal Navy. Despite limited successes in achieving some elements of the plan the French commanders were unable to follow the main objective through to execution. The campaign, which took place over thousands of miles of ocean, was marked by several naval engagements, most significantly at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October, where the combined fleet was decisively defeated, and from which the campaign takes its name. A final mopping up action at the Battle of Cape Ortegal on 4 November completed the destruction of the combined fleet, and secured the supremacy of the Royal Navy at sea.
The Atlantic campaign of 1806 was a complicated series of manoeuvrees and counter-manoeuveres conducted by squadrons of the French Navy and the British Royal Navy across the Atlantic Ocean during the spring and summer of 1806, as part of the Napoleonic Wars. The campaign followed directly from the Trafalgar campaign of the year before, in which the French Mediterranean fleet had crossed the Atlantic, returned to Europe and joined with the Spanish fleet. On 21 October 1805, this combined force was destroyed by a British fleet under Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, although the campaign did not end until the Battle of Cape Ortegal on 4 November 1805. Believing that the French Navy would not be capable of organised resistance at sea during the winter, the First Lord of the Admiralty Lord Barham withdrew the British blockade squadrons to harbour. Barham had miscalculated – the French Atlantic fleet, based at Brest, had not been involved in the Trafalgar campaign and was therefore at full strength. Taking advantage of the reduction in the British forces off the port, Napoleon ordered two heavy squadrons to sea, under instructions to raid British trade routes while avoiding contact with equivalent Royal Navy forces.
L'Hermite's expedition was a French naval operation launched in 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars. The operation was intended as both a commerce raiding operation against the British trading posts of West Africa and as a diversion to the Trafalgar campaign. Sailing from Lorient in October 1805 with one ship of the line, two frigates and a corvette, Commodore Jean-Marthe-Adrien L'Hermite was under orders to intercept and destroy British traders and slave ships off the West African coast and await reinforcements under Jérôme Bonaparte which were to be used in the invasion and capture of one of the British trading forts for use as a permanent French naval base from which further raiding operations could be conducted. It was also hoped by the French naval command that L'Hermite might draw some of the large British fleet maintained off Cadiz away from the blockade to allow the French and Spanish allied fleet trapped in the harbour to escape.
Allemand's expedition of 1805, often referred to as the Escadre invisible in French sources, was an important French naval expedition during the Napoleonic Wars, which formed a major diversion to the ongoing Trafalgar Campaign in the Atlantic Ocean. With the French Mediterranean Fleet at sea, Emperor Napoleon I hoped to unite it with the French Atlantic Fleet and together form a force powerful enough to temporarily displace the British Royal Navy Channel Fleet for long enough to allow an invasion force to cross the English Channel and land in Britain. In support of this plan, the French squadron based at Rochefort put to sea in July 1805, initially with the intention that they would join the Atlantic Fleet from Brest. When this fleet failed to put to sea, the Rochefort squadron, under Contre-Admiral Zacharie Allemand, went on an extended raiding cruise across the Atlantic, both to intercept British trade left lightly defended by the concentration of British forces in European waters and with the intention of eventually combining with the French Mediterranean Fleet then blockaded in Spanish harbours.
Furet was an Abeille-class 16-gun brig of the French Navy, launched in 1801. HMS Hydra captured her on 27 February 1806, off Cadiz.
Neptuno was an 80-gun Montañes-class ship of the line of the Spanish Navy. She was built in 1795 and took part in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. She fought with the Franco-Spanish fleet in the battle of Trafalgar, and was wrecked in its aftermath.