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  • Admiral Louis Guillouet, Comte d’Orvilliers (1710–92): A Style of Command in the Age of the American War

    Olivier Chaline

    Chapter from the book: Guimerá A. & Harding R. 2017. Naval Leadership in the Atlantic World: The Age of Reform and Revolution, 1700–1850.


    This chapter considers the spectrum of French officers from the most autocratic and centralising to the most confiding and delegating. It considers the case of the Comte D’Orvilliers (based on his correspondence with the Secrétaire d’État de la Marine) and his leadership style that was characterised by exceptional teaching skills. Detailing his career (the bulk of which was based at Rochefort) it shows how learning from able tacticians such as Dubois de La Motte on the eve and beginning of the Seven Years War led to swift promotion and a role in identifying future leadership talent in the French Navy. Concern for fleet cohesion and some skill in restoring some French pride avenging the events of 1759 at the Battle of Ushant 1778 were, though, hampered by the actions of colleagues notably Philippe Duke of Chartres. The chapter concludes with an account of how d’Orvelliers fell foul of French court politics and insufficient information on royal strategy in the midst of a joint operation with the Spanish. He returned to Brest as the public scapegoat of a flawed endeavour but still commanding the respect of the Grand Corps on his departure from Brest in 1779, unfailingly loyal to the end.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Chaline, O. 2017. Admiral Louis Guillouet, Comte d’Orvilliers (1710–92): A Style of Command in the Age of the American War. In: Guimerá A. & Harding R (eds.), Naval Leadership in the Atlantic World. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book2.g

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on March 30, 2017