Jean Bart


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French naval officer. He was a native of Dunkirk, and, like many seamen from that port, distinguished himself chiefly as a privateer. Going to sea as a boy, he first served under the legendary Dutch admiral Michiel Adrienszoon de Ruyter (1607–76), and had his first experience of battle during the Second Dutch War (1665–7). When war broke out between France and Holland (1672–78) he returned to Dunkirk and led a small fleet of privateers with great success, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. In the War of the Grand Alliance (1689–97) he was captured by English ships while escorting a convoy off the Casquets and was briefly imprisoned at Plymouth. He managed to escape in a boat and rowed for over two days until he reached France. He was promoted to captain and defended Dunkirk from English attacks on the port, but his most outstanding success came in 1696. With France facing famine, he captured a Dutch convoy of 96 ships loaded with wheat, a feat for which he was ennobled by Louis XIV, and in 1697 he was promoted chef d'escadre, the equivalent rank of commodore in most other navies. His name has been commemorated by naming some of the French Navy's largest and most important warships after him. These included its last battleship, of 35,000 tons, which took part in the Anglo-French operation in 1956 to seize the Suez Canal.

See also warfare at sea.

See also warfare at sea.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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