Napoleon's Admirals

Flag Officers of the Arc de Triomphe, 1789-1815

Richard Humble

Richard Humble presents an entirely new appraisal of the Anglo-French naval war of 1793-1814: the longest sea war in modern history
Date Published :
November 2019
Publisher :
Illustration :
26 b/w images
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612008080
Pages : 272
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
Also available digitally:
Buy From Amazon Amazon
Buy From Apple Apple
Buy From Barnes and Noble Barnes & Noble
Buy From Google Google
Buy From Kobo Kobo

Casemate will earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking a link here


On the four sides of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, serried tablets display the names of 660 honored commanders of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Most are those of generals and marshals of the French Army – but 26 of them are those of admirals, commanders of the fleets of Republican and Napoleonic France.

In Napoleon's Admirals, Richard Humble presents not only their individual stories, but an entirely new appraisal of the Anglo-French naval war of 1793-1814: the longest sea war in modern history.

Many myths are exploded in this book. The aristocratic officers of the French Navy did not emigrate en masse when the Revolution came, leaving the Navy leaderless and doomed to repeated defeats at sea. These former King’s officers stayed, and loyally tried to serve their country as the Revolution pursued its wasteful and unpredictable course. Three of them paid for their loyalty under the guillotine.

Contrary to popular British belief, the naval war did not end with Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar in October 1805. Thanks to an energetic warship-building program, the French Navy recovered quickly from Trafalgar, and Napoleon’s conquests created an ever-widening network of new French naval bases for the British Admiralty to cover.

Collingwood, Nelson’s deputy at Trafalgar, was still commanding in the Mediterranean four years later. The Admiralty had not dared to recall him and he died at sea, utterly exhausted, in March 1810. Four months later the French inflicted the greatest humiliation suffered by the Royal Navy in the entire naval war: the annihilation of an entire British frigate squadron in the Battle of Grand-Port, Mauritius, in August 1810.

Of the 26 ‘Admirals of the Arc,’ 23 had learned their trade in the French royal and merchant navies of the ancien régime. Republican France could call on a wide range of seasoned combat veterans from the American Revolutionary War (1778-83), whose stories are a revelation in themselves.

In his account of the men who imposed such a strain in on the world’s greatest Navy for 21 years, Richard Humble has provided a remarkable addition to the well-worn pages of conventional naval history.


"...not only authoritative; it makes a very enjoyable and instructive read, with 249 pages and I thoroughly recommend it."

- The Napoleon Series

"The crossing of lives and ships begins to create a nuanced temporal and spatial map of French maritime struggle, from constitutional monarchy into the empire."

- The Nautilus: A Maritime Journal of Literature, History, and Culture

"There is nothing comparable in English, so it fills a major gap in this largely neglected period in French naval history."

- International Journal of Maritime History

'From a wargaming perspective, there are multiple ideas for scenarios contained within these stories.''

- Miniature Wargames

"Richard Humble writes lucidly and fluently and has produced here a most readable and interesting work, the most complete account of its subject in the English language. It deserves a place on the shelves of anyone interested in war at sea during the Great French Wars and puts the experience of those naval commanders on ‘the other side’ into perspective."

- Nautical Research Journal

More from this publisher