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Fluffy Fishy

French Warships in the Age of Sail 1626 - 1786

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Rif Winfield's latest book French Warships in the Age of Sail 1626 - 1786 is due for release in Europe on October 30th, with 20 days to release I thought others may be interested in preordering or ordering it. Its noted that the book is seemingly unavailable in the US for a little while longer, with its US release destined to be 1st of December. The book is just the latest in a fantastic group of catalogues of ships, their specifications and history and thanks to the sheer scale of the project its not always entirely accurate thanks to the difficulty of working with the resources available, its hard to find a better source at least when it comes to the scale, the books contain some nice naval plans too, and while expensive are a great place to start in naval history.

What you can expect from the book is, designs, where it was built or acquired from and a brief service history, some details on hired vessels and they also usually contain at least in some setting some history looking at the broader environment of the era, in this case I would expect looking at French naval dominance of the 17th century, towards their influence over hull form and a little bit about some of the hugely influential naval architects of France. The books cover all sizes of ships, while they tend to look in most detail at the ships of the line and larger frigates they do give time to all the smaller vessels too, especially if they have an influential or interesting history, I imagine this book contains some nice information looking at corvettes for example.

A typical page in the series looks like this (from French Warships 1786-1863):

The product description reads:


The origins of a permanent French sailing navy can be traced to the work of Cardinal Richelieu in the 1620s, but this naval force declined rapidly in the 1650s and a virtually new Marine Royale had to be re-created by Colbert from 1661. Thereafter, Louis XIV"s navy grew rapidly to become the largest and most powerful in the world, at the same time establishing a reputation for the quality of its ship design that lasted until the end of sail. The eighteenth century was to see defeat and decline, revival and victory, but by 1786 the French Navy had emerged from its most successful naval war having frequently outfought or outmanoeuvred the British Navy in battle, and in the process making a major contribution to American independence. This book is the first comprehensive listing of these ships in English, and follows the pattern set by its companion volume on the 1786 - 1861 period in providing an impressive depth of information. It is organised by Rate, classification and class, with significant technical and building data, followed by highlights 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 throughout the whole of the sailing era. Certain to become the standard English-language reference work, its publication is of the utmost importance to every naval historian and general reader interested in the navies of the sailing era.


Amazon (UK) Link:

US Link:

Other books in the series cover:

  • French Warships in the Age of Sail 1786 - 1861
  • British Warships in the Age of Sail 1603 - 1714
  • British Warships in the Age of Sail 1714-1792
  • British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793-1817
  • British Warships in the Age of Sail 1817-1863
  • Russian Warships in the Age of Sail 1696-1860
  • Dutch Warships in the Age of Sail 1600 - 1714

The books are all fantastic, and supporting the authors and the publisher of the series, Seaforth is something I feel strongly about. Also Seaforth tend to give away an e-book with most of their orders so you often get 2 for the price of one, they are a great little company producing some hugely valuable reads to anyone interested in the era and subject.

Edited by Fluffy Fishy
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Those books seems amazing.

I will let @Surcouf advertise the French publishing house Ancre.fr :D

What we also need is not only reproductions of ship plans but some objective critical analysis of them as Malachi has knocked up in his post, for example about British plans of French captured ships : 


Edited by LeBoiteux

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