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Additional resources for Fighting ships and prisons;: The Mediterranean galleys of France in the age of Louis XIV

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27 The Ligurian coast of Italy was much easier for oar-driven craft and better known, but farther south the portions of Italy under Spanish control were comparatively little known to French galley officers. As late as 1698 the commander of one squadron was ordered to obtain "more full and certain knowledge of ports and coasts" under Spanish control. It is significant for the operational methods and effectiveness of French galleys that even the important coast of northern Italy, immediately adjacent to their own ports, was still poorly charted and unfamiliar to French galley captains in 1698.

In 1626 this Isaac de Razilly, then a commander in the Brittany squadron on the Atlantic seaboard, strongly seconded the pleas of the merchants of Marseilles and other southern ports, urging the construction of galleys either at Toulon or Marseilles for the defense of coasts and trade. The Bailiff de Forbin, subsequently Lieutenant-G6ne"ral des Galeres, was equally strong in his counsel that they be built. Cardinal Richelieu apparently harkened to such counsels, because he armed both vessels and galleys for the protection of French trade against attacks.

And finally, French galleys had uses for all Christendom. To build and maintain galleys, to employ turcs or infidels at their oars, and to campaign with them against Mediterranean infidels was itself a contribution to the defense of the Christian Faith. Certainly the financing of such a contribution was a suitable expenditure for His Very Christian Majesty, the King of France. He, like almost every other European Christian, was committed in some degree to this defense of Christendom. The "defense" could mask many motives, of course, mostly nonreligious; but the religious element was also present in sincere, significant forms Propagating Christian belief and saving human souls were basic aims in the seventeenth-century Roman Catholic world.

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