The Battle of Quiberon Bay (known as Bataille des Cardinaux in French) was a decisive naval engagement fought on 20 November 1759 during the Seven Years' War between the Royal Navy and the French Navy. It was fought in Quiberon Bay, off the coast of France near St. Nazaire. The battle was the culmination of British efforts to eliminate French naval superiority, which could have given the French the ability to carry out their planned invasion of Great Britain. A British fleet of 24 ships of the line under Sir Edward Hawke tracked down and engaged a French fleet of 21 ships of the line under Marshal de Conflans. After hard fighting, the British fleet sank or ran aground six French ships, captured one and scattered the rest, giving the Royal Navy one of its greatest victories, and ending the threat of French invasion for good.
During 1759, the British, under Hawke, maintained a close blockade on the French coast in the vicinity of Brest. In that year, the French had made plans to invade England and Scotland, and had accumulated transports and troops around the Loire estuary. The defeat of the Mediterranean fleet at the Battle of Lagos in August made the invasion plans impossible, but Choiseul still contemplated a plan for Scotland, and so the fleet was ordered to escape the blockade and collect the transports assembled in the Gulf of Morbihan.
During the first week of November, a westerly gale came up and, after three days, the ships of Hawke's blockade were forced to run for Torbay on the south coast of England. Robert Duff was left behind in Quiberon Bay, with a squadron of five 'fifties' (ships of the line with 50 cannons) and nine frigates to keep an eye on the transports. In the meantime, a small squadron from the West Indies joined Conflans in Brest and, when an easterly wind came on the 14th, Conflans slipped out. He was sighted by HMS Actaeon which had remained on station off Brest despite the storms but which failed to rendezvous with Hawke, by HMS Juno & Swallow which tried to warn Duff but were apparently chased off by the French, and by the victualler Love and Unity returning from Quiberon, which sighted the French fleet at 2pm on the 15th, 70 miles west of Belle-Isle. She met Hawke the next day and he sailed hard for Quiberon into a SSE gale. Meanwhile, HMS Vengeance had arrived in Quiberon Bay the night before to warn Duff and he had put his squadron to sea in the teeth of a WNW gale.
Having struggled with unfavourable winds, Conflans had slowed down on the night of the 19th in order to arrive at Quiberon at dawn. 20 miles off Belleisle he sighted seven of Duff's squadron. Once he realised that this was not the main British fleet, he gave chase. Duff split his ships to the north and south, with the French van and centre in pursuit, whilst the rearguard held off to windward to watch some strange sails appearing from the west. The French broke off the pursuit but were still scattered as Hawke's fleet came into sight. HMS Magnanime sighted the French at 8.30 and Hawke gave the signal for line abreast.
Conflans was faced with a choice, to fight in his current disadvantageous position in high seas and a "very violent" WNW wind, or take up a defensive position in Quiberon Bay and dare Hawke to come into the labyrinth of shoals and reefs. About 9am Hawke gave the signal for general chase along with a new signal for the first 7 ships to form a line ahead and, in spite of the weather and the dangerous waters, set full sail. By 2.30 Conflans rounded Les Cardinaux, the rocks at the end of the Quiberon peninsula that give the battle its name in French. The first shots were heard as he did so, although Sir John Bentley in Warspite claimed that they were fired without his orders. However the British were starting to overtake the rear of the French fleet even as their van and centre made it to the safety of the bay.
Just before 4pm the battered Formidable surrendered to the Resolution, just as Hawke himself rounded The Cardinals. Meanwhile, Thésée lost her duel with HMS Torbay and foundered, Superbe capsized, and the badly damaged Héros struck her flag to Viscount Howe before running aground on the Four Shoal during the night.
Meanwhile, the wind shifted to the NW, further confusing Conflans' half-formed line as they tangled together in the face of Hawke's daring pursuit. Conflans tried unsuccessfully to resolve the muddle, but in the end decided to put to sea again. His flagship, Soleil Royal, headed for the entrance to the bay just as Hawke was coming in on Royal George. Hawke saw an opportunity to rake Soleil Royal, but Intrépide interposed herself and took the fire. Meanwhile, Soleil Royal had fallen to leeward and was forced to run back and anchor off Croisic, away from the rest of the French fleet. By now it was about 5pm and darkness had fallen, so Hawke made the signal to anchor.
During the night eight French ships managed to do what Soleil Royal had failed to do, to navigate through the shoals to the safety of the open sea, and escape to Rochefort. Seven ships and the frigates were in the Villaine estuary (just off the map above, to the east), but Hawke dared not attack them in the stormy weather. The French jettisoned their guns and gear and used the rising tide and northwesterly wind to escape over the sandbar at the bottom of the Villaine river. One of these ships was wrecked, and the remaining six were trapped throughout 1760 by a blockading British squadron and only later managed to break out and reach Brest in 1761/1762. The badly damaged Juste was lost as she made for the Loire, 150 of her crew surviving the ordeal, and Resolution grounded on the Four Shoal during the night.
Soleil Royal tried to escape to the safety of the batteries at Croisic, but Essex pursued her with the result that both were wrecked on the Four Shoal beside Heros. On the 22nd the gale moderated, and three of Duff's ships were sent to destroy the beached ships. Conflans set fire to Soleil Royal while the British burnt Heros, as seen in the right of Richard Wright's painting. Hawke tried to attack the ships in the Villaine with fireboats, but to no effect.
The power of the French fleet was broken, and would not recover before the war was over; in the words of Alfred Thayer Mahan (The Influence of Sea Power upon History), "The battle of 20 November 1759 was the Trafalgar of this war, and [...] the English fleets were now free to act against the colonies of France, and later of Spain, on a grander scale than ever before". For instance, the French could not follow up their victory in the land battle of Sainte-Foy the following spring for want of reinforcements and supplies from France, and so Quiberon Bay may be regarded as the battle that determined the fate of New France and hence Canada. Hawke's commission was extended and followed by a peerage (allowing him and his heirs to speak in the House of Lords) in 1776.
|Soleil Royal||80||Paul Osée Bidé de Chézac||950||Flagship of Marquis de Conflans – Aground and burnt|
|Orient||80||Alain Nogérée de la Filière||750||Flagship of Chevalier de Guébridant Budes – Escaped to Rochefort|
|Glorieux||74||René Villars de la Brosse-Raquin||650||Escaped to the Vilaine, blockaded there until April, 1762|
|Robuste||74||Fragnier de Vienne||650||Escaped to the Vilaine, blockaded there until 1761, returned to Brest in January, 1762|
|Dauphin Royal||70||André d'Urtubie||630||Escaped to Rochefort|
|Dragon||64||Louis-Charles Le Vassor de La Touche||450||Escaped to the Vilaine, blockaded there until January, 1761|
|Solitaire||64||Louis-Vincent de Langle||450||Escaped to Rochefort|
|Tonnant||80||Antoine de Marges de Saint-Victoret||800||Flagship of Chevalier de Beauffremont – Escaped to Rochefort|
|Intrépide||74||Charles Le Mercerel de Chasteloger||650||Escaped to Rochefort|
|Thésée||74||Guy François de Kersaint||650||Foundered|
|Superbe||70||Jean-Pierre-René-Séraphin du Tertre de Montalais||630||Sunk by Royal George|
|Northumberland||64||Belingant de Kerbabut||450||Escaped to Rochefort|
|Éveillé||64||Pierre-Bernardin Thierry de La Prévalaye||450||Escaped to the Vilaine, blockaded there until 1761, returned to Brest in January, 1762|
|Brillant||64||Louis-Jean de Kerémar||450||Escaped to the Vilaine, blockaded there until January, 1761|
|Formidable||80||Louis de Saint-André du Verger||800||Flagship of De Saint André du Vergé – Taken by Resolution|
|Magnifique||74||Bigot de Morogues||650||Escaped to Rochefort|
|Héros||74||Vicomte de Sanzay||650||Surrendered, but ran aground next day during heavy weather, burnt|
|Juste||70||François de Saint-Allouarn||630||Wrecked in the Loire|
|Inflexible||64||Tancrede||540||Lost at the entrance to the Vilaine|
|Sphinx||64||Goyon||450||Escaped to the Vilaine, blockaded there until April, 1762|
|Bizarre||64||Prince de Montbazon||450||Escaped to Rochefort|
|Frigates and corvettes|
|Hébé||40||300||Returned to Brest|
|Aigrette||36||Escaped to the Vilaine|
|Vestale||34||254||Escaped to the Vilaine|
|Calypso||16||Paul Alexandre du Bois-Berthelot||Escaped to the Vilaine|
|Prince Noir||6||Pierre-Joseph Kergariou de Roscouet||Escaped to the Vilaine|
|Royal George||100||Captain John Campbell||880||Flagship of Sir Edward Hawke|
|Union||90||Captain Thomas Evans||770||Flagship of Sir Charles Hardy|
|Mars||74||Commodore James Young||600|
|Warspite||74||Sir John Bentley||600|
|Resolution||74||Henry Speke||600||Wrecked on Le Four shoal|
|Swiftsure||70||Sir Thomas Stanhope||520|
|Chichester||70||William Saltren Willet||520|
|Essex||64||Lucius O'Brien||480||Wrecked on Le Four shoal|
|Falkland||50||Francis Samuel Drake||350|
HMAS Quiberon was a destroyer named in memory of the battle of Quiberon Bay. She served in the Royal Navy and then the Royal Australian Navy. Quiberon was launched in 1942 and saw operations in World War II. She was decommissioned in 1964.
Admiral of the Fleet Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke, KB, PC (21 February 1705 – 17 October 1781) was a Royal Navy officer. As captain of the third-rate HMS Berwick he took part in the Battle of Toulon in February 1744 during the War of the Austrian Succession. He also captured six ships of a French squadron in the Bay of Biscay in the Second Battle of Cape Finisterre in October 1747.
Hawke went on to achieve a victory over a French fleet at the Battle of Quiberon Bay in November 1759 during the Seven Years' War, preventing a French invasion of Britain. He developed the concept of a Western Squadron, keeping an almost continuous blockade of the French coast throughout the war.
Hawke also sat in the House of Commons from 1747 to 1776 and served as First Lord of the Admiralty for five years between 1766 and 1771. In this post, he was successful in bringing the navy's spending under control and also oversaw the mobilisation of the navy during the Falklands Crisis in 1770.French ship Dauphin Royal (1735)
The Dauphin Royal was a 2nd Rank 74-gun ship of the line of the Royal French Royal Navy, designed in 1735 by Blaise Ollivier and constructed in 1735 to 1740 at Brest Dockyard. She and the contemporary Superbe, also built at Brest over the same period, were the last French 74-gun ships to have only thirteen pairs of lower deck guns (subsequent 74-gun French ships all were constructed with a fourteenth pair of lower deck guns). In 1747, she was rebuilt at Brest and reduced to 70 guns by the removal of her poop guns.
She took part in the Battle of Quiberon Bay on 20 November 1759 under Captain d'Uturbie Fragosse, in the Battle of Ushant, and the Battle of Saint Kitts on 25/26 January 1782.
She was condemned in September 1783 and sold in June 1787 to be broken up.French ship Formidable (1751)
Formidable was an 80-gun ship of the line of the French Navy, launched in 1751.
She fought at the Battle of Quiberon Bay on 20 November 1759, where she served as the flagship of De Saint André du Vergé. HMS Resolution captured her at the battle and the Admiralty commissioned her in the Royal Navy as the Third Rate HMS Ham.French ship Héros
A number of ships of the French Navy have borne the name Héros ("hero"). Among them:
the ship of the line French ship Héros (1701) (1701-1719)
the 74-gun ship of the line Héros (1750), destroyed at the Battle of Quiberon Bay
the 74-gun ship of the line Héros, built in 1778, flagship of Suffren, scuttled by British at Toulon in 1793
the 74-gun ship of the line Héros (1795), survivor of the Battle of Trafalgar
the 74-gun Téméraire-class ship of the line Héros (1801)
the 118-gun Océan-class ship of the line Héros (1813-1828)
A converted Spanish trailer
French submarine Héros, a Redoutable-class submarineFrench ship Orient (1756)
Orient was an 80-gun ship of the line of the French Navy.
Originally built for the French East India Company, she was purchased for the French Navy in May 1759. In November of that year, she took part in the Battle of Quiberon Bay.
In 1778, she was reduced to a 74-gun second rate vessel (vaisseau du 2e rang).
She was wrecked near Trincomalee in the Sri Lanka in February 1782.French ship Soleil-Royal (1749)
The Soleil-Royal was a ship in the French Navy, the third ship of that name. She was the first 80-gun two-decker to use the 24-pounder long gun on her second battery, giving her a considerable firepower for the time and allowing her to challenge three-deckers. Her name Soleil-Royal, honouring the French crown and usually reserved for the largest units of the Navy, testifies of the change of focus from large three-deckers onto strong two-deckers.She was Brienne's flagship at the battle of Quiberon Bay, where she ran aground and was burnt to prevent her capture. Her cannons were recovered by the Royal Navy and transported to Plymouth for reuse in British vessels.French ship Tonnant (1740)
Tonnant was an 80-gun ship of the line of the French Navy.
She was the flagship of the French fleet at the Second battle of Cape Finisterre, and later took part in the Battle of Quiberon Bay, and in the American War of Independence.
She was broken up in 1780.HMS Burford (1757)
HMS Burford was a 70-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built at Chatham Dockyard to the draught specified by the 1745 Establishment as amended in 1754, and launched in 1757.She fought in the Seven Years' War in North America (including the capture of Louisbourg) and in the western squadron under Admiral Edward Hawke, including the Battle of Quiberon Bay. After the war she spent the subsequent peace as guardship at Plymouth and a troopship to the West Indies and was repaired in 1772. In the American Revolutionary War she was sent to the East Indies from 1779 to 1784 as part of admiral Edward Hughes's squadron where she participated in all five indecisive actions against the French admiral Suffren. After her return to England in 1784 she was sold for breaking up in 1785.HMS Essex (1679)
HMS Essex was a 70-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched at Blackwall Yard in 1679.She was rebuilt at Rotherhithe in 1700, retaining her 70-gun armament. She underwent a second rebuild in 1713, and on 20 May 1736 she was ordered to be taken to pieces and rebuilt at Woolwich as a 70-gun third rate to the 1733 proposals of the 1719 Establishment. She was relaunched on 21 February 1740.Essex was wrecked on the Four Shoal in 1759, eighty years after she was first launched, while chasing the French flagship Soleil Royal after the Battle of Quiberon Bay.HMS Exeter (1697)
HMS Exeter was a 60-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched at Portsmouth Dockyard on 26 May 1697.She was involved in repeated actions against the French, in 1702 off Newfoundland, and in 1705 when she captured the frigate Thétis. She was in the Mediterranean in 1711, and at the Battle of Quiberon Bay. She was rebuilt according to the 1733 proposals of the 1719 Establishment at Plymouth, and relaunched on 19 March 1744. She was at the Siege of Pondicherry in 1748. Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood briefly served aboard her.
Exeter continued to serve until 1763, when she was broken up.HMS Formidable
Four ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Formidable with a fifth, the French "Formidable", renamed HMS Ham after being captured and commissioned:
HMS Ham (1759) was the 80-gun second rate Formidable captured from the French at the Battle of Quiberon Bay in 1759. Broken up in 1768.
HMS Formidable (1777) was a 90-gun second rate launched in 1777. She fought at the Battle of Ushant and the Battle of the Saintes, was converted to a 74-gun third rate in 1813, and broken up later that year.
HMS Formidable (1825) was an 84-gun second rate launched in 1825. She was lent as a training ship in 1869 and was sold in 1906.
HMS Formidable (1898) was a Formidable-class predreadnought battleship launched in 1898 and torpedoed and sunk in 1915.
HMS Formidable (67) was an Illustrious-class aircraft carrier launched in 1939 and sold for scrap in 1953.HMS Mars (1759)
HMS Mars was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 15 March 1759 at Woolwich Dockyard.Mars took part in the Battle of Quiberon Bay on 20 November 1759, flying the broad pennant of Commodore James Young.
From 1778, Mars was on harbour service, and was broken up in 1784.HMS Resolution (1758)
HMS Resolution was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 14 December 1758 at Northam.On 20 November the following year, Resolution took part in the decisive Battle of Quiberon Bay captained by Henry Speke. Just before 4pm she took the surrender of the French ship Formidable. However after a stormy night she was found the following morning to have run aground on the Four Shoal and dismasted.HMS Temple
HMS Temple was a 68-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 3 November 1758 at Hull.Commissioned in January 1759 under the command of Washington Shirley, she saw service at the Battle of Quiberon Bay in November.The following year, in March 1760, she sailed for the West Indies under Captain Lucius O'Brien. With the aid of the cutter Griffin, in September of that year she recaptured the sloop Virgin off Grenada.Temple operated as part of the fleet at the capture of Havana in 1762, under the command of Julian Legge. However, in December of that year, she foundered at sea and was lost.HMS Warspite (1758)
HMS Warspite was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line (a new class of two-decker that formed the backbone of British fleets) of the Royal Navy, launched on 8 April 1758 at Deptford.Her first service in the Seven Years' War against France was as one of Admiral Edward Boscawen's 14 ships in the Mediterranean, and on 19 August 1759 she took part in the Battle of Lagos, where she captured the French Téméraire. Warspite also participated in the Battle of Quiberon Bay under Admiral Sir Edward Hawke.After the signing of the Treaty of Paris she was paid off on 5 May 1763, reappearing as a hospital ship during the American Revolutionary War (1775–83).
She was employed on harbour service from 1778. She was renamed Arundel in March 1800, and was eventually broken up at Portsmouth Dockyard in November 1801.Hawke Bay
Hawke Bay (often incorrectly called by its former name of Hawke's Bay) is a large bay on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It stretches from Mahia Peninsula in the northeast to Cape Kidnappers in the southwest, a distance of some 100 kilometres.
Captain James Cook, sailing in HMS Bark Endeavour, sailed into the bay on 12 October 1769. After exploring it, he named it for Sir Edward Hawke, First Lord of the Admiralty, on 15 October 1769, describing it as some 13 leagues (about 40 miles) across. Hawke had decisively defeated the French at the Battle of Quiberon Bay in 1759.
This part of the New Zealand coast is subject to tectonic uplift, with the land being raised out of the sea. For this reason, the coastal land in this area has significant marine deposits, with both marine and land dinosaur fossils having been found inland. The Napier earthquake of 3 February 1931 resulted in several parts of the seabed close to the city of Napier being raised above sea level.
Because the central mountain ranges come close to the coast at the north end of the bay, much of the bay's northerly coastline has deeply eroded tablelands that end in steep seaside cliffs which descend to narrow beaches.
The town of Wairoa lies to the north end of the bay, at the mouth of the Wairoa River and its flood plain, while the port city of Napier lies on the coast, and near the southern end of the bay sits the city of Hastings, on the edge of another flat river flood plain. The main port in the bay is the Port of Napier.
The Hawke's Bay region, as distinct from the bay itself, lies on the coastal land around the bay and also in the hinterland to the south. The bay is named Hawke Bay, whereas the region bears the bay's former name, Hawke's Bay.Hubert de Brienne
Hubert de Brienne, Comte de Conflans (1690, in Paris – 27 January 1777, in Paris) was a French naval commander.Joshua Rowley
Vice-Admiral Sir Joshua Rowley, 1st Baronet (1734–1790) was the fourth son of Admiral Sir William Rowley. Sir Joshua was from an ancient English family, originating in Staffordshire (England) and was born on 1 May 1734 in Dublin Rowley served with distinction in a number of battles throughout his career and was highly praised by his contemporaries. Unfortunately whilst his career was often active he did not have the opportunity to command any significant engagements and always followed rather than led. His achievements have therefore been eclipsed by his contemporaries such as Keppel, Hawke, Howe and Rodney. Rowley however remains one of the stalwart commanders of the wooden walls that kept Britain safe for so long.Planned French invasion of Britain (1759)
A French invasion of Great Britain was planned to take place in 1759 during the Seven Years' War, but due to various factors (including naval defeats at the Battle of Lagos and the Battle of Quiberon Bay) was never launched. The French planned to land 100,000 French soldiers in Britain to end British involvement in the war. The invasion was one of several failed and defeated French attempts during the 18th century to invade Britain.