Abraham Duquesne

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Abraham Duquesne
Portrait by Antoine Graincourt
Dieppe, Normandy, France
Died2 February 1688
Paris, France
Allegiance Kingdom of France
 Sweden (1643 – 1645)
Service/branch French Navy
 Swedish Navy
RankVice Admiral

Abraham Duquesne, marquis du Bouchet (French pronunciation: [abʁa.am dykɛn]; c. 1610 – 2 February 1688) was a French naval officer, who also saw service as an admiral in the Swedish navy. He was born in Dieppe, a seaport, in 1610, and was a Huguenot. He was the son of a naval officer and therefore became a sailor himself, spending his early years in merchant service.

Service in the French navy[edit]

In 1635, he became a capitaine de vaisseau (captain) in the French navy. He was appointed to the "Neptune" squadron in 1636. In May 1637, he gained some fame for capturing the island of Lerins from Spain. Around this time, his father died in a conflict with the Spanish, which permanently increased his animosity towards them and he sought revenge. He fought them viciously at the Battle of Guetaria in 1638, during the expedition to Corunna in 1639, and in the battles at Tarragona in 1641, Barcelona and the Cabo de Gata.[1]

Service in the Swedish navy[edit]

Duquesne then left to join the Royal Swedish navy in 1643. He fought the Danish fleet personally commanded by King Christian IV at the Battle of Colberger Heide in the frigate Regina 34. Later, in the Battle of Fehmarn Belt, the Danes were decisively defeated, their admiral Pros Mund killed and his ship taken. After a peace had been reached between the Danes and the Swedes in 1645, he returned to France.

Return to French service[edit]

Bombardment of Algiers in 1682, by Abraham Duquesne.
Abraham Duquesne delivering Christian captives in Algiers after the Bombardment of Algiers (1683).
Bombardment of Genoa by Duquesne in 1684, by Beaulieu le Donjon.

He suppressed a revolt at Bordeaux (which was materially supported by his most hated foe, the Spanish) in 1650, during the Fronde outbreaks. During that same year, he created at his own expense a squadron with which he blockaded the Gironde, forcing that city to surrender. This earned him a promotion in rank to chef d'escadre (Rear-Admiral), a castle, and a gift of the entire isle of Indre, Loire-Atlantique. The French and the Spanish made peace in 1659, which left him to fight pirates in the Mediterranean Sea. In 1667 he was promoted 'Lieutenant-Général (Vice-Admiral). He distinguished himself in the Third Dutch War, fighting as second in command of the French squadron at the Battle of Solebay and later supporting the insurgents in the revolt of Messina from Spain, fighting Admiral Michel Adriaanzoon de Ruyter, who had the united fleets of Spain and the United Provinces under his command. He fought the combined Dutch-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Stromboli and the Battle of Augusta where De Ruyter was mortally wounded. On 2 June he was present as second in command when the French fleet under Comte and Vivonne attacked and partly destroyed the combined Spanish-Dutch fleet at the Battle of Palermo, which secured French control of the Mediterranean. For this accomplishment he received a personal letter from Louis XIV and was given, in 1681, the title of marquis along with the estate of Bouchet, even though he was a Protestant.

Duquesne also fought the Barbary pirates in 1681 and bombarded Algiers between 1682 and 1683.[2] In response the Algerians tied the French consul Jean Le Vacher to their huge Baba Merzoug cannon and blasted him towards the French fleet in July 1683. Another French consul received the same treatment in 1688, and the cannon became known as La Consulaire.[3] Duquesne bombarded Genoa in 1684.

Last years[edit]

Plaque and heart of Admiral Duquesne

In that same year, 1684, he retired from poor health. He may have foreseen the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, though he was exempted from the proscription. He died in Paris on 2 February 1688.

Abraham's heart was placed in a silver box and sent to Aubonne, Switzerland after his death. More than a hundred years later in 1894 the box was discovered and moved to his birthplace in Dieppe.[4]



  1. ^ "Duquesne, Abraham" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 8 (11th ed.). 1911. p. 691.
  2. ^ Martin's History of France by Henri Martin, p.522
  3. ^ "L'Algérie veut le retour d'un canon mythique, installé à Brest". Ouest-France Multimédia. 27 November 2011. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  4. ^ "Chronicling America - The Library of Congress".