Book Review – ‘Histoire de la Marine du Consulat et de l’Empire (1799–1815)’ by Patrice Decencière
Much has been written about the Royal Navy of the Napoleonic wars but, surprisingly, few books have been published about its main opponent, the French Republican, then Imperial Navy, and most of these have focused only on the war at sea.
Pierre Levêque, author of a masterly social study on naval officers of the French Imperial Navy (Les officiers de marine du Premier Empire), has widened his scope in this new book. The scope of this massive tome (1,100 pages, without illustrations) is much broader: the author has read in extenso the correspondence (in and out) of the Ministère de la Marine with naval officers of various ranks, including post captains, port admirals, but also naval shipwrights, private contractors (series BB3 and BB4), as well as personal records (CC7) of naval officers, kept at the SHD (Service Historique de la Défense) at Vincennes. What results is a comprehensive history of the French consular, then imperial, navy seen from within …