The Levant Fleet (French: Flotte du Levant) was the designation under the Ancien Regime for the naval vessels of the Royal French Navy in the Mediterranean. The fleet carried out operations such as asserting naval supremacy and protecting convoys. Its counterpart was the Flotte du Ponant, which saw service in the English Channel and in the Atlantic Ocean.
|Country||Kingdom of France|
|Branch||Royal French Navy|
|Role||Naval operations in the Mediterranean|
|Garrison/HQ||Arsenal of Toulon|
Arsenal of Galères
Nine Years' War
War of the Spanish Succession
War of the Austrian Succession
Seven Years' War
American War of Independence
At first based in Fréjus, from the beginning of the 17th century the fleet was based at two specialized arsenals:
The flagship was always the most powerful ship present in Toulon. Under Louis XIV this was the either 110-gun Royal Louis constructed in 1667 and destroyed in 1690 or her successor, also named Royal Louis, constructed in 1692. The gun decks of these vessels were painted red, upper decks in blue, picked out with gilding. Under Louis XVI the flagships were the 110-gun Majestueux constructed in 1780 and then the 118-gun Océan-class Commerce de Marseille constructed in 1788.
The command of the Levant and the Ponant fleets were entrusted on 12 November 1669 to two vice-admirals. The first vice-admiral of the Levant was Anne Hilarion de Costentin, Comte de Tourville, designated as such in 1669. Louis XIV had intended to appoint Abraham Duquesne to share the post, but he died in 1688, and the Comte de Tourville continued in the post until 1701.
|Anne Hilarion de Costentin,
Comte de Tourville
Tenure at age 45 until 1701
|François Louis de Rousselet, Marquis de Châteaurenault
Tenure at age 63 until 1716
|Alain Emmanuel de Coëtlogon
Tenure at age 70 until 1730
|Charles de Sainte-Maure, Marquis d'Augé
Tenure at age 75 until 1744
|Gaspard de Goussé de La Roche-Allard
|-||1745-1745||Tenure at age 81 and died one week later|
|Vincent de Salaberry de Benneville
|-||1750||Tenure at age 86|
|Pierre de Blouet de Camilly
|1751–1753||Tenure at age 85 until 1753|
|-||1753–1762||Tenure at age 82 until 1762|
|Emmanuel-Auguste de Cahideuc, Comte Dubois de la Motte
Count Dubois de la Motte
Tenure at age 79 until 1764
|Claude Louis d'Espinchal, Marquis de Massiac
|-||1764–1770||Tenure at age 78 until 1770|
|Anne Antoine, Comte d'Aché de Maubeuf
|-||1770–1780||Tenure at age 69 until 1780|
|Charles-Alexandre Morel, Comte d'Aubigny
Tenure at age 81 until 1781
|Aymar Joseph de Roquefeuil et du Bousquet
Count of Roquefeuil and du Bousquet
Tenure at age 67 until 1782
|Henri-François de La Rochefoucauld
|-||1782–1784||Tenure at age 64 until 1784|
|Louis-Armand-Constantin de Rohan,
Prince de Montbazon
|-||1784–1792||Tenure at age 52 until 1792|
Although Tourville commanded the fleet during the battles of the reign of Louis XIV, his successors were too old to have likely served at sea. In practice, the squadrons at sea were under officers with the rank of Lieutenant général des Armées navales.
The Fleet of the Levant was renamed the "Mediterranean Squadron" (escadre de la Méditerranée, fr:Escadre de la Méditerranée) after the French Revolution. The fleet was successively almost annihilated during the Siege of Toulon in 1793 and during the battles of the Nile in 1798 and Trafalgar in 1805.
The term "Fleet of the Levant" was temporary readopted after the French Restoration and the July Monarchy.
- Par maître Rodolphe, in Histoire de la Marine française illustrée, Larousse, 1934.
- Royal-Louis (1668), the first of the 15 Royal-Louis was destroyed in 1690.
- Royal-Louis 1692, the second of the 15 Royal-Louis was disarmed in 1716 and destroyed in 1727.
- Majestueux was renamed Républicain (Republican) in 1797; destroyed in 1808.
- Rémi Monaque, Une histoire de la marine de guerre française, Paris, éditions Perrin, 2016, total pages 526 ISBN 978-2-262-03715-4
- Michel Vergé-Franceschi, La marine française au XVIII, guerres, administration, exploration, Regards sur l'histoire, Paris, SEDES editions, 1996, total pages 451 ISBN 2-7181-9503-7.
- Michel Vergé-Franceschi, Toulon: port royal, 1481–1789, Tallandier, 2002 – 329 pages