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The Fougueux (1785-1805): prototype of an 18th–19th century French construction method

Nuria E. Rodríguez Mariscal, Nicolás C. Ciarlo, Milagros Alzaga García, Eric Rieth et Manuel Izaguirre Lacoste
p. 369-372

Résumés

Le navire français de 74 canons Le Fougueux (1785-1805) appar­tenait à la flotte franco-espagnole qui affronta les Britanniques lors de la bataille de Trafalgar le 21 octobre 1805. Ce navire de guerre fut perdu au large de Sancti Petri après la bataille. Environ deux siècles plus tard, un ensemble de canons de fer et de vestiges en bois ont été étudiés sur ce site par le Centre d’archéologie sous-marine d’Andalousie. Cet article présente les résultats de l’analyse des méthodes de construction du navire, que ses particularités placent dans la tradition de la construction navale française entre la fin du xviiie et le début du xixe siècle.

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Dédicace

In memory of our friend Manuel Izaguirre Lacoste

Texte intégral

1. Historical Background

1The Fougueux was a third class French ship, according to regulations of ships of the line, and was armed with 74 guns. It was built in L’Oriênt (now Lorient) in Brittany in 1784, supervised by chief engineer Charles-Jean François Segondant and following the guidelines set out in the plan-type Sané-Borda of 74 guns, approved in 1782 (SHM 2G1 11; Boudriot, Berti 1995, p. 90-102).

2In fulfilment of its mission to defend the Atlantic and Mediterranean French coasts, in 1805 the Fougueux joined the combined Spanish-French squadron under the command of Vice-Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve. On 21 October of the same year, Villeneuve was to face the British fleet commanded by Admiral Horatio Nelson off the coast of Barbate in the well-known Battle of Trafalgar. After undergoing a hard confron­tation, the Fougueux, unmasted and ungoverned, was taken and towed as a prize of war by the British ship Temeraire. Finally, the Fougueux was abandoned to her fate in the middle of a strong storm that broke after the battle. The last news of the French ship indicated that it was lost, breaking on the rocky slopes of Sancti Petri in the early hours of 22 October (Lon Romeo 2005, p. 341).

3About two centuries later, a set of iron cannons, an anchor of large dimensions, and wooden remains of what appeared to be a gunship were discovered in an area near to where documentary sources situated the shipwreck of the Fougueux.

2. Archaeological Research

4The site, located at Sancti Petri, Cadiz, Spain, sits between two rocky formations and is partially buried in sand at an average depth of 8 m. The Underwater Archaeology Centre of Andalusia conducted three excavation seasons between 2006 and 2008. Archaeological research at this site enabled the identification of the shipwreck as the remains of the Fougueux. The studies focused on the hull remains, armaments, nautical equipment, personal possessions and other objects carried onboard (Rodríguez et al. 2010). The archaeological data related to shipbuilding indicated that the technical character­istics of the structural remains have a close correspondence to the French construction method of the late 18th to early 19th century, which is defined by the adoption of the Sané-Borda (1782) type plans (fig. 1-a) (Rodríguez et al. 2013, 2014, for a detailed account of the analyses).

Fig. 1: The French ship the Fougueux

Fig. 1: The French ship the Fougueux

(a) A comparison between the Sané-Borda (1782) type plan of a French ship-of-the-line and the hull remains of the Fougueux (1785-1805) (drawings after Boudriot 1977, pl. 11, 12 and 15); site plan and photographs IAPH-CAS Graphic Background 2006-2007, Spain). (b) The framing pattern (left): 1, floor timber (varangue); 2 and 5, second, third, etc. futtocks (allonges); 3, half-floor timber (demi-varangue); 4, first futtock (genou); 6, half futtock (demi-allonge). The keel assembly (right): rising wood (contre-quille) along all the keel’s length, keel (quille) and false keel (fausse-quille) (drawings after Boudriot 1977, p. 81). (c) Hull copper fastenings: a rider and its clench ring bolts are shown in detail (site plan and photographs IAPH-CAS Graphic Background 2006-2007, Spain).

5The main architectural evidence identified at the site is notably related to the design and morphological characteristics of the ship’s structural elements defined in this construction system. The surviving keel has a length of about 18 m, a width of 40 cm – circa 15 inches, being the dimension proposed by Sané (Boudriot 1977, p. 157) – and a minimum thickness of 42 cm, given that its upper side is slightly deteriorated. Additionally, it has a false keel of similar width and a thickness of 15 cm. Each double frame has a floor timber of circa 34-39 cm and a first futtock of circa 32-35 cm sided, transversally joined with iron bolts. This feature indicated that the double frames correspond to predesigned frames (the French couples de levée), which were assembled prior to mounting, as is shown in the models designed by Sané (Boudriot 1977, p. 66-67). Each double frame is composed of a full floor timber (varangue), which is joined to the keel, and followed by the second, third, etc. futtocks (allonges): and of a half-floor timber (demi-varangue), with first futtock (genou), second, third, etc. futtocks (allonges) (fig. 1-b).

6Half-floor timbers, which were recorded in the northwest area of the site, were incorporated into French ship construction from the late 18th to early 19th centuries to improve the transversal strength of the hull structure. The space between frames near the midship section is 10-12 cm on average. On the other hand, the poor state of preservation of the wooden remains, which exhibited massive concretions, made it impossible to clearly identify the midship frames and predesigned frames installed subsequently. Additionally, filling pieces (clés) inserted between the frames were recorded longitudinally at three levels (along the frames’ length). These elements were used to reinforce the transversal structure of the hull (see Rodríguez Mariscal et al. 2013, for additional data on the construction features recorded).

7Apart from the indicative structural features mentioned above, other hull elements were recorded. Inner planking was distinguished in some areas, but it remains in a very poor condition. Regarding outer planking, it is arranged in pairs of similar width, showing a range from about 18 | 18 cm to 35 | 35 cm, while the thickness varies between 9 and 11 cm (measured near the keel) and 20 cm (between the lower and orlop decks). Wood anatomy analyses determined that the keel, false keel, frames and planking were made of oak (Quercus robur).

8Several fastenings belonging to the lower part of the hull were located at the site (fig. 1-c). Some were still associated with the timbers, while others were scattered. The hull was copper-sheathed, while lead sheets were used on the false keel for additional mechanical protection, and both were faste­ned with copper-base sheathing tacks. The latter feature is consistent with historical data for French ships (Boudriot 1975, p. 242). The main dimensions recorded for recovered fastenings (dispersed pieces) are the following: bolts (up to 900 mm length and 25-30 mm diameter); spikes (about 275 to 300 mm length); and sheathing tacks (37 mm length on average) (see Ciarlo 2016, for more details on formal features).

9Metallurgical examination was conducted by light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy, optical emission spectrometry, and atomic absorption spectrometry. The analytical data indicated that the raw material used for the sheets was 99.8% copper (Bethencourt 2010). Bolts and spikes were handmade and primarily by a hot forging process with unalloyed copper. As far as the bolts are concerned, this evidence further suggested that traditional copper fastening production techniques continued long after the improvements made in Britain by William Forbes (1783) and other patents of grooved rollers (Ciarlo 2016). Metallurgical characteristics of Fougueux’s samples showed a high degree of similarity to remains reco­vered from another contemporary site, helping to associate them with the remains of the Bucentaure (1805), flagship of the combined Franco-Spanish fleet (Bethencourt 2008-2009; Ciarlo et al. 2014).

3. Conclusions

10We have presented a brief examination of the structural remains of the Fougueux (1785-1805) in this paper. Archaeological research conducted at this site allowed the identification of a series of technical features of the construction method proposed by Sané-Borda in 1782. Given that the Fougueux was one of the first warships of this kind, her remains shed new light on how this French system was put into practice in its early years.

References

Archives

11SHM 2G1 11
Service Historique de la Marine, Rochefort, Marine 1784, Port de L’Orient, Construction à l’Entreprise, pour la main-d'œuvre de charpente du vaisseau du Roi le Fougueux de 74 Canons

Bibliography

12Bethencourt M.
2008-2009 Adaptation of Archaeometry Techniques to the Study of 18th- to 20th-century Copper Sheathing in Ships, Historical Metallurgy Society (HMS) News 70, p. 3-4.

13Bethencourt M.
2010 Caracterización de forro, pecio de Camposoto, Corrosion and Protection Laboratory, Department of Material Science and Metallurgy Engineering and Inorganic Chemistry, School of Marine and Environmental Sciences, University of Cadiz, Puerto Real, Andalusia, Spain.

14Boudriot J.
1975 Le Vaisseau de 74 Canons – Traité Pratique d’Art Naval, vol. 3, Paris, éditions des Quatre Seigneurs, Collection Archéologie Navale Française.

15Boudriot J.
1977 Le Vaisseau de 74 Canons – Traité Pratique d’Art Naval, vol. 1, Paris, éditions Jean Boudriot, Collection Archéologie Navale Française.

16Boudriot J., Berti H.
1995 Les Vaisseaux de 74 à 120 Canons. Étude historique, 1650-1850, Paris, A.N.C.R.E., Collection Archéologie Navale Française.

17Ciarlo N. C.
2016 Innovación tecnológica y conflicto naval en Europa Occidental, 1751-1815: aportes arqueológicos e históricos al conocimiento de la metalurgia y sus aplicaciones en los barcos de guerra, PhD thesis (Archaeology), School of Philosophy & Letters, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

18Ciarlo N. C., De Rosa H., Lucchetta M. C., Marino P., Rodríguez N., Martí J., Maxia G.
2014 Estudio comparado de dos navíos franceses de la Batalla de Trafalgar: los elementos de fijación estructurales del Fougueux (1785-1805) y Bucentaure (1804-1805), in D. Juanes, C. Roldán (eds), Actas del X Congreso Ibérico de Arqueometría, Castellón, Subdirección de Conservación, Restauración e Investigación IVC+R de CulturArts Generalitat, p. 217-229.

19Lon Romeo E.
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20Rodríguez N. E., Rieth É., Izaguirre M.
2010 Investigaciones en el pecio de Camposoto: hacia la identificación del navío francés Fougueux, Boletín Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico 75, p. 94-107.

21Rodríguez N. E., Alzaga M., Izaguirre M., Rieth É., Márquez L., Acerra M.
2013 El Fougueux, análisis del sistema constructivo de un navío de línea de la armada imperial de Napoleón Bonaparte, in X. Nieto, A. Ramírez, P. Recio (eds), I Congreso de Arqueología Náutica y Subacuática Española, Cartagena, Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, p. 575-592.

22Rodríguez N. E., Alzaga M., Martí J., Rieth É., Izaguirre M.
2014 El Fougueux, Trafalgar (1805). Un navío construido y artillado para la batalla, in R. Castillo, A. Ramírez, L.A. Torres (eds), IKUWA V, Proceedings of the 5th International Congress on Underwater Archaeology, Cartagena, Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, p. 1036-1038.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1: The French ship the Fougueux
Légende (a) A comparison between the Sané-Borda (1782) type plan of a French ship-of-the-line and the hull remains of the Fougueux (1785-1805) (drawings after Boudriot 1977, pl. 11, 12 and 15); site plan and photographs IAPH-CAS Graphic Background 2006-2007, Spain). (b) The framing pattern (left): 1, floor timber (varangue); 2 and 5, second, third, etc. futtocks (allonges); 3, half-floor timber (demi-varangue); 4, first futtock (genou); 6, half futtock (demi-allonge). The keel assembly (right): rising wood (contre-quille) along all the keel’s length, keel (quille) and false keel (fausse-quille) (drawings after Boudriot 1977, p. 81). (c) Hull copper fastenings: a rider and its clench ring bolts are shown in detail (site plan and photographs IAPH-CAS Graphic Background 2006-2007, Spain).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/archaeonautica/docannexe/image/3420/img-1.jpg
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Nuria E. Rodríguez Mariscal, Nicolás C. Ciarlo, Milagros Alzaga García, Eric Rieth et Manuel Izaguirre Lacoste, « The Fougueux (1785-1805): prototype of an 18th–19th century French construction method »Archaeonautica, 21 | 2021, 369-372.

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Nuria E. Rodríguez Mariscal, Nicolás C. Ciarlo, Milagros Alzaga García, Eric Rieth et Manuel Izaguirre Lacoste, « The Fougueux (1785-1805): prototype of an 18th–19th century French construction method »Archaeonautica [En ligne], 21 | 2021, mis en ligne le 01 juillet 2022, consulté le 18 avril 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/archaeonautica/3420 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/archaeonautica.3420

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Auteurs

Nuria E. Rodríguez Mariscal

Andalusian Historical Heritage Institute (IAPH), Underwater Archeology Center, Cadiz, Spain

Nicolás C. Ciarlo

National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), Institute of Archaeology, School of Philosophy & Letters, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Milagros Alzaga García

Andalusian Historical Heritage Institute (IAPH), Underwater Archeology Center, Cadiz, Spain

Eric Rieth

National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Laboratory of Western Medieval Research of Paris (LAMOP), University Paris 1, National Maritime Museum Paris, France

Articles du même auteur

Manuel Izaguirre Lacoste

Historical-Artistic and Museum Heritage Service, Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa, Gipuzkoa, Spain

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