In 1786 the French Navy had just emerged from its most successful war of the eighteenth century, having frequently outfought or outmanoeuvred the Royal Navy in battle, and made a major contribution to American independence. The reputation of its ship design and fighting skills never stood higher, yet within a few years the effects of the French Revolution had devastated its efficiency, leading to defeat after defeat. Fine ships continued to be built, but even under Napoleon's dynamic influence the navy never recovered sufficiently to alter the balance of sea power. It was only after 1815 that the navy revived, espousing technical innovation and invention, to produce some of the most advanced ships of the age. This book is the first comprehensive listing of these ships in English, and follows the pattern set by the companion series on British warships in the age of sail in providing an impressive depth of information. It is organised by Rate, classification and class, with significant technical and building data, followed by a concise summary of the careers of each ship in every class.Thus for the first time it is possible to form a clear picture of the overall development of French warships in the latter half of the sailing era.
RIF WINFIELD is the author of the four-volume classic British Warships in the Age of Sail, as well as a number of other highly regarded books on the sailing navy. Dr STEPHEN S ROBERTS, his collaborator on this book, is a leading American authority on French warships, and those of the nineteenth century in particular.