1902 Encyclopedia > Abraham Duquesne (Marquis Duquesne)

Abraham Duquesne (Marquis Duquesne)
French naval officer

ABRAHAM DUQUESNE (MARQUIS DUQUESNE), (1610-1688), one of the most distinguished naval officers in the history of France, was born at Dieppe in 1610. Born in a stirring seaport, the son of a distinguished naval officer, he naturally adopted the profession of a sailor. He spent his youth in the merchant service, and obtained his first distinction in naval warfare by the capture of the island of Lerins from the Spaniards in May 1637. About the same time his father was killed in an engagement with the Spaniards, and the news raised his hatred of the national enemy to the pitch of a personal and bitter animosity. For the next five years he sought every opportunity of inflicting defeat and humiliation on the Spanish navy, and he distinguished him-self by his bravery in the engagement at Gattari (1638), the expedition to Coruna (1639), and in battles at Tarragona (1641), Barcelona (1643), and the Cape de Gata. The French navy being left unemployed during the minority of Louis XIV., Duquesne obtained leave to offer his services to the king of Sweden, who gave him a commission as vice-admiral in 1643. In this capacity he defeated the Danish fleet near Gottenburg and thus raised the siege of the city. The Danes returned to the struggle with increased forces under the command of King Christiern in person, but they were again defeated,—their admiral being killed and his ship taken. Peace having been concluded between Sweden and Denmark in 1645, Duquesne returned to France. The revolt at Bordeaux, supported as it was by material aid from Spain, gave him the opportunity of at once serving his country and gratifying hi3 long cherished hatred of the Spaniards. In 1650 he fitted out at hi3 own expense a squadron with which he blockaded the mouth of the Gironde, and compelled the city to surrender. For this service he was promoted in rank, and received a gift of the castle and isle of Indre, near Nantes. Peace with Spain was concluded in 1659, and for some years afterwards Duquesne was occupied in endeavours to suppress piracy in the Mediterranean. On the revolt of Messina from Holland, he was sent to support the insurgents, and had to encounter the united fleets of Spain and Holland under the command of the celebrated Admiral De Buyter.

After several battles, in which the advantage was generally on the side of the French, a decisive engagement took place near Catania, on the 20th April 1676, when the Dutch fleet was totally routed and De Ruyter mortally wounded. The greater part of the defeated fleet was afterwards burned in the harbour of Palermo, where it had taken refuge, and the French thus secured the undisputed com-mand of the Mediterranean. For this important service Duquesne received a letter of thanks from Louis XIV., together with the title of marquis and the estate of Bouchet. Owing to his being a Protestant, however, his professional rank was not advanced. His last achievements were the bombardment of Algiers (1682-3), in order to effect the deliverance of the Christian captives and the bombardment of Genoa in 1684. On the revocation of the Edict of Nantes Duquesne lost his commission, but he was specially excepted from banishment. He died at Paris on the 2d February 1688.

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