Jean Bar, dunkirk corsair
A tall man, so unlike the exquisite gentlemen, clearly missed waiting for an audience. His waddling gait was far from ideal tutors from good families and betrayed in him a man, often stepping on rough deck boards, rather than at ease gliding over a parquet polished to a shine. Frilly courtiers, all this host of decorative marquises and earls, who feed abundantly at the court, saw in him a stranger and threw at the guest scornful scornful glances. No wonder, an expensive camisole and a wig would have looked on it, as unknown unknown scarlet sails would have looked on a battleship. The guest frankly missed - the magic of the grandeur of Versailles had no effect on him. Thinking about something of his own, the big man took a pipe from somewhere that looked like a species, slowly filled it with tobacco and began to smoke. From such arrogance the breath of the court brotherhood was interrupted for a moment, and they attacked the smoker with indignation of the zealous guardians of court etiquette. The giant met a torrent of angry tirades with the calmness of a breakwater: “Gentlemen, I am used to smoking in the royal service. So it will be better, as it seems to me, not to change the established customs. ” I had to complain to the king. Louis XIV, leisurely preparing for a dinner party, having heard the complaints of the courtiers, just laughed: “But this is Jean Bar, leave him alone! Let him smoke his pipe better. ” Such was the attitude of His Majesty to the glorified seaman and the legend of the Dunkirk corsairs and privateers.
Jean Bar, the legend of Dunkirk corsairs
In the conditions of the naval wars of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, privateering, that is, obtaining by a private person permission for the capture of enemy ships for an appropriate fee, became an effective means of combating enemy trade. France in relation to privateering stood apart from other leading maritime powers. It was here, unlike Holland and England, this craft was not only a profitable business, but also became part of the naval policy and the general concept of warfare at sea. The most clear idea was framed by the Minister of the Sea, Louis Ponchartin, who succeeded the son of the great and hated Colbert, Marquis Senielle, in this post. It was the height of the war against the Augsburg League, the size of the treasury was rapidly declining. Ponchartren proposed, instead of the useless and expensive, in his opinion, struggle for supremacy at sea, which required the construction and maintenance of a large regular fleet, go to a full-scale war against sea trade, raising the private craft of privateering so far to the rank of state policy. This promised the king and his treasury tangible profits and eliminated the burdensome costs of maintaining a full-fledged naval force. While senior officials and officials were noisy at odds, the French privateers were doing their job.
Privateering was not born in the XVII century - patents for the equipment of a warship for hunting and trophy mining have been known since the late Middle Ages. Largely due to the activities of the English corsairs and privateers, the brilliant facade of the Spanish colonial empire began to grow dim. Having settled down, pushing the proud Hidalgo to the side and cutting the sails to the resourceful Dutch, the “enlightened navigators” themselves acquired a solid maritime trade, which turned out to be as profitable as it was vulnerable. Now France, led by its ambitious king, threatened the very foundation of English well-being. This danger was embodied not only in powerful squadrons of battleships and frigates standing on the raids of Brest and Toulon. With such an opponent, the British knew how to fight and knew how to fight it. But how to protect yourself from dozens of small, daring and heavily armed ships, like wasps stinging a British lion in the most inappropriate places? Dunkirk, a large port on the coast of the Channel, was a huge aspen nest, from which the French privateers went into their dangerous, successful and not very, raids.
Jean-Bar, the son of fishermen and professional corsairs, was obliged for his outstanding - from simple jungle to hereditary nobleman and commander of the Dunkirk squadron - a career of privateering. He was a participant and organizer of repeated raids on the English coast and trade caravans. Personally, under the command of Admiral Tourville, he took part in the sea battle at Beachy Head. In the year of 1694, when crop failure occurred in France, and the threat of famine arose, the French received information that a large grain caravan with more than 150 transport ships under a strong escort was heading for Amsterdam from the Baltic. Jean Bar decided to attack the enemy. Having deceived the vigilance of the English patrol guarding the exit from Dunkirk, the French went to sea. In the area of Texel, the convoy was intercepted. Bar had 6 ships against a 8 Dutch military escort. As a result of the desperate attack and the subsequent boarding, the Dutch, who could not withstand such a temperamental onslaught, surrendered. For the seizure and transmission of the bread convoy, Jean Baru was granted hereditary nobility.
Being personally brave and brave, the famous marque demanded the same from his subordinates. Once his ship, the 24-gun frigate "Serpan", was transporting powder kegs from Calais to Brest. At the transition, he was intercepted by a Dutch frigate, large in size. In the artillery duel that ensued, the French ventured at any moment to fly into the air. At the height of the battlefield, Bar noticed the ship's boyfriend, hiding behind the superstructure in horror. Corsair ordered to tie him to the mast, commenting on his order with the words: "Who does not know how to look death in the eye, he does not deserve life." "Serpan" managed to break away from the chase, and the young man, this stern lesson went in favor. Frightened boyga was the son of Jean Bar, Francois, who later became the vice-admiral of France.
Unfortunately, Jean Bar did not have time to show himself during the last war of the reign of Louis XIV, called the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1702, the celebrated marque died of pneumonia. His craft colleagues had a lot of work - the new maritime minister, Jerome Ponshartren, finally took the course to wage war with corsair methods. The ground army, which fought in several theaters, absorbed a huge amount of resources, the fleet increasingly defended itself on the bases, gradually losing its combat capability. Privateers became the main force in the confrontation with England at sea, it was they, and not the squadron of multi-gun battleships, that became the source of the Admiralty Lords headache.
Raid Claude Forben
France had to fight not only in Holland and Germany, but also in Northern Italy. Here Prince Eugene of Savoy operated, and it was highly desirable to bring havoc into the logistics of the Austrian army, located in Lombardy. Its supply was carried out through the ports of the Adriatic Sea - Fiume, Trieste and others. In order to disorganise enemy communications, in the 1702 year, the famous marque and comrade-in-arms of Jean Bar in the Augsburg War Claude Forben came out of Toulon on the Perl 50 gun ship, carrying the 8 gun shebeks as an intelligence officer. Like many outstanding people of that noisy time, Forben was a man with a biography. Coming from a noble family, a young man, he ran away from home to the fleet. After the first year of service he decides to become a musketeer, however, after killing a noble opponent in a duel, Gordon’s chevalier, was forced to return to the fleet. He served under the command of such famous admirals as d'Estre and Duque. In 1685 – 1688, he headed a diplomatic mission in Siam, exotic for then Europe, he was the governor of Bangkok and military adviser to the Siamese king.
Upon returning to France, he took a lively part in the maritime component of the war against the Augsburg League. Forben arrived at Dunkirk at the start of 1689, already holding a patent for security, and was given command of an 26 gun frigate. In the first campaign he was lucky - he captured and brought four Dutch tenders to the base. Subsequently, privateer's activity brought him to the captain Jean Bar, who was most famous in the local circles. In one of the raids on the Dutch convoy after the 12-hour battle, Forben and Bar's ships were taken aboard by the British. Both captains went to the Plymouth Royal Prison. Further, as in a good pirate novel, a skillfully organized escape followed - some sources say that the enterprising French bribed the guards, a more sentimental version says that the jailer's daughter fell in love with Forben, who gave prisoners files in a loaf of bread. Returning to the French coast, Bar went to Dunkirk to equip the new ship, and Forben - to Versailles, to pay his respects to His Majesty. Delighted with the daring escape, the king granted the corsair the rank of captain and the personal pension at 400 ecu.
Such a man commanded the 50-gun "Perm", setting off to attack enemy convoys in the Adriatic Sea. Arriving at the operational area, the French corsair chose the port of Brindisi, which then belonged to Spain, Louis' ally, as its base. Shebek under the command of Captain Cleon was sent on reconnaissance. During this operation, the ship approached the island of Keshe, which formally belonged to Venice, where it was attacked by Austrian troops there. Of the crew, only 6 people survived. Since Venice had previously declared its neutrality in the outbreak of war, Forben filed an official protest against Doge Alvise II de Mocenigo and appealed for support to the French ambassador to the Republic of Venice to Count de Carmon. In private conversation, the corsair was made to understand that what happened would be hushed up, since France had close trade relations with Venice, purchasing grain, including for the army, and it would be undesirable to spoil relations with it. The economic benefits introduced their pragmatic amendments. Outraged by such a turn, Forben promised to seize and sink Venetian ships, since they carry out the transportation of goods also in the interests of the Austrian army.
There was no doubt in the words of the French corsair. For two months of productive activity in the Adriatic, he captured 15 transports, engaged in battle with two Austrian frigates - one was taken to the boarding, the second was forced to retreat. Frightened by such activity in their trading lands, right at their side, the Venetians forbade the supply of French ships. For Forben, these decrees were already completely irrelevant - he provided his ships with everything they needed at the expense of trophies. Further events developed even more interesting and intense. Forben headed to Ancona, one of the main supply centers and a transit point of the Austrian army, Yevgeny of Savoy. The corsair sends a letter to the governor informing him of the naval blockade of this harbor. Such measures against the ports and the coast of the enemy have been and will be common practice for fleets and squadrons for a long time. But then there was nonsense - only one 50 gun ship announced such decisive intentions. At first the Austrians only laughed, then they thought. And it was from what. Forben intercepts all enemy ships that fall into his hands. Moreover, when meeting with the Venetians, he forces the captains to throw all the cargo overboard and go to Ancona. Brave men, stubborn and just greedy for profit, trying to get out of the harbor, are greeted by cannon-guns. Soon the harbor of a large port was crammed with merchant ships, food supplies in the garrison began to dwindle, and the intendants of Yevgeny of Savoy added more provisional trucks.
For Venice, making profit from profitable trading was a matter of paramount importance, and such glaring losses were simply unacceptable. For local bankers and traders, it didn’t matter to whom they sell grain and fodder - the main thing is that they pay and pay for it well. And here on the way so wonderful flowing gold streams arises an unexpected dam in the form of a French corsair. The trade lobby, which, in principle, controlled political life in the republic, began to exert feasible (and there was an excess of forces) pressure on the doge with only one goal: to do something with the damned Frenchman. In such a difficult situation, Alvise II arranged a real bombardment of the French embassy with various diplomatic complaints of ever increasing caliber. Ambassador Comte de Carmon visited Doge more often than in his own bedroom. Finally, waves from the vibrations of the diplomatic pendulum reached Versailles. Louis XIV reluctantly had to react - he did not want to spoil relations with Venice, especially since she was a profitable trading partner. The official Versailles issued a quickly composed edict in which Forben’s actions against the Venetians were reproached angrily. This essentially sham document was duplicated by the King’s personal letter to Forben, in which he expressed his admiration and approval of his actions. In general, it turned out almost like in the Three Musketeers, when the king, after a large-scale extermination of the Cardinal's guardsmen at Desho's monastery, arranged for his musketeers to "raznos", ended with forty pistols, lowered into the pocket of the guilty.
Having received such a tangible moral impulse in the form of the king's favor, Forben continued his activities with even greater scope. Due to the blockage of Ancon, Trieste became the center of supply for the Austrians. The corsair also blocked this port. The work of a restless Frenchman has long overstepped the brink of ordinary privateering. Its results have increasingly begun to take on the features of an impressive logistical crisis. The problem could not be ignored by Yevgeny Savoisky himself, who, having exhausted all imaginable reserves of patience, wrote a letter to the Venetian doge full of furious indignation, demanding to literally “remove this thorn from his ass” (diplomatic expressions of the prince left much to be desired). A splinter sat deep. While the most respectable Alviza II counted all the impressive losses from the “robber” Forben and even more from the possible break with France, the Austrian ambassador to Venice hired the English 50-gun privatir Tartar (so the British) to emphasize his difference from the French, called privateers). In order to guarantee success and for the corresponding reward in the event of this, an 26-gun Venetian frigate joined the hunt for Forben. At the time, the Frenchman himself had the actual 50-gun “Perl” and as scouts the 12-gun abalone and a small tender. Moving away to Brindisi, the Frenchman asked for help - the balance of forces was not at all in his favor. His request was heard. An 50-gun ship commanded by the Chevalier of the Renault de Sheehan left Toulon. The crew was strengthened for boarding fights and capture trophies. After a rendezvous in the area of Messina, Forben sent a galliot and tender to France, while he returned to the shores of Northern Italy. Only just breathed quietly merchants and intendants again began to wipe their foreheads together from excitement.
Mining itself was in the hands of the French. Soon the Austrian convoy from 20 transports, loaded with grain for the army, was intercepted. The convoy went unarmed, and Forben soon captured the 8 ships sent to Brindisi. The next day, the same fate befell all the other transports. This time, in order to continue not to reduce their own personnel, the trophies were burned, and their crews landed in boats. In the midst of this sad event for the Austrians, a Venetian frigate hired to help Tartarus arrived in time. The hunter quickly turned into a game - he was taken to the boarding and also burned. Under the curtain came the Tartarus itself, which in impotent rage could only watch the dying transports and helpless boats with frightened sailors. Forben is already gone. The commander of the privatir promised, in the presence of his officers, "to cut off the ears of this scoundrel." Of course, he did not fulfill his threat. The next night, anchored in Venice, Tartar was attacked by firefighters prepared from fishing schooners, along with boarding teams. Forben reasonably decided not to delay the showdown with the Englishman. Part of the crew on board was absent, preferring simple port entertainment, and therefore the boarding process did not drag on. By connecting the wicks to the barrels of gunpowder in the kryuit chamber, Forben gathered the officers in the mess hall, politely reminding the captain of "Tartarus" about the obligations he had taken on the ears. Forben was so courteous that he let the English know the situation about the wicks in the kryuit chamber. Immediately forgetting all the oaths and threats and taking advantage of the generosity of their opponent, the gentlemen very quickly bowed out and left the doomed Tartarus in boats. An enormous explosion force, scattering debris over a large area, put an end to stories English hunt for Forben, who retained his honor as well as his ears.
This daring action forced the Austrian command to boil like a Turkish coffee pot, but the active Frenchman was still a painful thorn in the famous place of Yevgeny of Savoy. In September 1702, he attacked and burned a large Venetian convoy transporting wheat for an enemy army. Such a raging passion compelled the French ambassador in Venice to appeal to the corsair with a personal request to temper the ardor, since the white-hot white Doge openly promised to take the side of the Habsburgs with further relapses. Forben made the decision to return to Trieste (the only major port of the Austrians at that time). This time after the fireworks with Tartar, the French decided to fire the harbor for the island. At night, the ships of Forben opened fire on Trieste, firing shots near 500 - several fires appeared in the port. During the withdrawal of the corsairs, the awakened coastal battery of 14 guns opened fire. Forben solved this sudden problem in a radical way: an assault team of 40 men in two boats was sent ashore. The guns were riveted, the servants were slaughtered.
Having conveyed greetings to Trieste, Forben entered the mouth of the Po River, reaching the fortress of Mesola, where at the moment the food was stored for delivery to the Austrian army. As a result of a quick, effective attack, warehouses and a multitude of transport barges already loaded with grain were burned. Since Mesola was the territory of the Papal States, which was under strong pressure from the Habsburgs, but formally neutral, outraged cries were sent to Louis, decorated as diplomatic messages from the Holy See.
Forben is not limited to the raid on Mesola, he planned a strike on Fiume - gunpowder, nuclei and weapon. Late at night, Pearl penetrated the harbor, a well-armed landing force consisting of more than 30 sailors was landed on the shore. The garrison of the fortress of Lorenzo was taken aback. Having disarmed it, the sailors allowed themselves some liberties with the property of citizens, especially those of the wealthy. The burgomaster, besieged by indignant philistines, rushed to the French consul in Fiume with a categorical request to influence what was happening. He persuaded the corsair to take a deputation from the local establishment. Forben, instantly assessing the situation and the solvency of respectable and frightened gentlemen, told them that a modest donation in 10 of thousands of ecu to the needs of the French Navy would save the citizens from further troubles and ruin. The corsair instructively added that we should not forget about His Majesty, King Louis XIV, who will willingly show his mercy to Fiume for additional modest 30 thousand ecu. Excited by these sums almost more than the expropriation conducted by the sailors of the French "Pearls", the townspeople began to bargain smartly. The process was in full swing when Austrian troops appeared on the outskirts of the city, opening fire on the French ship. “Pearl” answered with full-fledged onboard volleys, but Forben had to interrupt the operation, stopping there.
At the end of November 1702, the corsair received an order to return to France - his active work greatly complicated not only the supply of Yevgeny of Savoy’s army, but also diplomatic relations with Venice and the Papal States. Forben's actions were highly appreciated in France and in allied Spain. Philip of Anjou presented the corsar with a sword decorated with diamonds. For a certain period, the Austrian troops did experience an acute shortage of supplies. However, the Dutch and British soon strengthened their naval grouping in the Mediterranean, which frustrated the actions of the French raiders in this region.
Fight off the island of Uessan, the largest convoy battle of the war. Raiders failure
Jean Gudin "Battle at Cape Lizard" 1707
The cruising war finally became part of French naval doctrine. In 1705, such a prominent military figure of the kingdom as Marshal Vauban, in one of his capital works, argued this type of activity, considering it most suitable for achieving victory over maritime powers - England and Holland. No more giant linear squadrons with all sorts of vanguards, corps battles and divisions. Compact search and impact connections in 4 – 5 battleships and 6 – 7 frigates with reinforced crews for prize parties were to go to sea. The actions of the corsairs were to be strongly encouraged - they had to operate around the world, forcing the enemy to disperse forces. According to Vauban, after three years, due to the complete collapse of maritime trade, England and the Netherlands will have to capitulate. With 1706, these ideas began to materialize - many corsairs took command of the ships of the regular fleet, the procedure for issuing letters of marque was simplified. In fact, part of the Ocean Fleet was transferred to the corsairs.
The British and the Dutch responded with a more sophisticated convoy system. In 1707, the most famous convoy battle of the War of the Spanish Succession took place - the battle at Cape Lizard, or (in French sources) the battle near the island of Uessan. In October 1707, the merchant convoy, consisting of more than 100 transport ships, was to sail to Portugal. He was accompanied by two 50-gun ships. Subsequently, the plans were adjusted, and to this armada, 30 merchant ships from Virginia, sailing with goods to the Mediterranean, were added. The escort has been increased - the 3 battleship has been added to it. October 10 convoy was discovered by a connection of Claude Forben (5 of the battleships and the 1 frigate) and a no less famous corsair Rene Dughet-Truene (the 4 of the battleship and the 2 frigate). The French quickly attacked the escort of the convoy. They consistently aboard one English ship after another. In this battle, there was both cowardice and cowardice, and courage and heroism. The English battleship Royal Oak simply deserted from the battlefield. Upon arrival in England, his commander was put on trial, stripped of all ranks and awards, and in disgrace expelled from the fleet. On the contrary, the crew of the Devonshire 80-gun showed courage and bravery: not allowing boarding, this ship steadfastly fought off three French ships at once, giving the convoy time to disperse. A fire broke out on Devonshire, followed by an explosion. Of the entire crew, only three survived. After almost 230 years, a similar cruiser, “Jervis Bey,” will make a similarly similar feat in an unequal battle with “Admiral Scheer”. Despite the fact that the French won a convincing victory on points: the entire escort was destroyed, the 15 transport ships were captured by frigates - the main task remained unsolved. The convoy survived, although it was scattered and forced to return to the ports of England. Victory at Uessan was highly appreciated in France. Dughet-Truin was adopted by the king and granted hereditary nobility. Louis was struck by the fact that the livres handed to the injured 1000 an annual pension given to the corsair were given to his wounded first mate. The privateer was generally known for his personal modesty and persistent efforts about his subordinates.
Despite private successes and the celebration of numerous heroes, France steadily lost the maritime war. A one-side bet only on raiders and privateers turned out to be a mistake. The Allies improved their convoy system, constantly strengthening the escort. Attacks on such well-protected caravans were simply suicidal. The base of privateers - primarily Dunkirk and Saint-Malo - was tightly blocked by Royal Nevi forces. Gradually, losses of corsairs increased, and the amount of production decreased. By the way, German submariners found themselves in a similar situation in the second half of the Second World War. The French fleet has deteriorated due to ever-shrinking funding and inefficient use. The corsairs and privateers made many more glorious feats, even at the end of the war they managed to pinch their opponents (for example, the well-known raid of Dughet-Truen to Rio de Janeiro), but the ocean expanses continued to shadow the Union Jack. The classical approach to the conquest of dominance of the sea with the help of a powerful regular fleet was at that moment the only correct one.