The Reduction of the French Mediterranean Fleet 1702–1719
After the losses sustained at Cherbourg and La Hogue following the battle of Barfleur in 1692, Louis XIV remained keen to continue building up his navy to a size equal to or exceeding in strength the combined English and Dutch fleets. Within a few days he authorized six replacement First Rank ships (three-deckers) and five Second Rank (large two-deckers); more followed with a year. By 1694, however, the economic crisis in France brought this expansion to an end. Louis was forced to choose between his battlefleet and his army, and strategic realities determined that he chose the latter. This article explores the changing nature of the French navy in the period between 1702 and 1719 and examines in detail the reduction of the French Mediterranean fleet, the flotte du Levant.