French ship Thérèse (1665)

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French Royal Navy EnsignFrance
Name: Thérèse
Builder: Toulon
Launched: 1665
Fate: Blew up and sank on 24 June 1669
General characteristics
Class and type: 58-gun ship of the line
Tonnage: 900 tons
Length: 51 m (167 ft)
Beam: 34 ft 6 in (10.52 m)
Draught: 15 ft 11 in (4.85 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Complement: 280
Armament: 58 guns of various weights of shot

La Thérèse was a 58-gun ship of the line of the French Navy. She was built in Toulon between 1662 and 1665, and was classed as a vaisseau de troisième rang (ship of the third rank). She was part of a French relief effort to Candia during a siege by the Ottomans and was sunk on 24 June 1669 after an explosion in her powder magazine. At the time she was the flagship of a rear-admiral.[1]


La Thérèse arrived at Candia on 19 June 1669 in company with 17 transport ships and 6,000 French soldiers.[2] The French force was there to support the Venetian forces during the Siege of Candia. Another 24 French warships arrived on 3 July. Six days after their arrival the leader of the French corps, François de Vendôme, Duc de Beaufort, was killed in battle and Philippe de Montaut-Bénac de Navailles took over. On 10 July a council of all the leaders of the allied armies took place and the decision was made to use the fleet to attack the Turks northwest of the city, as this part of the city was totally impoverished. After the bombardment the allied forces aimed to strike and repel the Turks. 24 July was selected as the day of the operation. As planned that day, the whole Navy sailed west of the city to the mouth of the river Giofyros. The fleet comprised 58 warships mounting 1100 cannon. For three hours the fleet continuously bombarded the Turks, when suddenly La Thérèse's powder magazine caught fire, resulting in the destruction of the ship. Only seven of her crew survived out of 350. Immediately after this incident there was great confusion in the French naval force and the fleet's commander, Vincenzo Rospigliosi, ordered the bombardment to be abandoned, and sailed the fleet to the island of Dia.

The accident seriously damaged the citizens' and sailors' morale and caused divisions in the military leadership. The leader of the French force, Philippe de Montaut, decided to withdraw from the city, having sustained casualties of over 2,000 dead and injured, and suffering a shortage of food and supplies.

Captain General Francesco Morosini, tried in vain to change de Montaut's mind. Eventually, between 16 and 21 August, the whole French fleet sailed away leaving the allied forces, a total of 3,600 men, consisting of Venetians, Italians, English, Scottish, Germans and Greeks, to fight alone against over 60,000 Turks. A few days later Morosini was informed that Turkish reinforcements had arrived in Crete, and decided to surrender the city. He signed the capitulation on 6 September and the city was handed over to the Turks.

The shipwreck[edit]

Manolis Voutsalas, a Greek diver, discovered the wreck of La Thérèse, but initially was unsure of her identity. In 1976 Jacques Cousteau visited Crete and Voutsalas showed him the site of the shipwreck, west of the port of Heraklion. Cousteau, after several dives, identified it as the shipwreck of La Thérèse.[3] The scientific underwater excavation of the shipwreck started in 1987 by the Ministry of Culture Greece. The archaeologist M. Anagnostopoulou and Nicolas Lianos, started the excavation of the shipwreck, succeed to map the wreck (sc. 1:100) and raise several objects. Among them, a bronze canon with the inscription "Le Duc de Vendôme 1966" (admiral), and "HONARATUS SUCHET F(ecit) TOLONI" (cnf. M. Anagnostopoulou- N. Lianos, ΑΑΑ v.ΧΙΧ(1986). It is considered the first systematic underwater excavation in Greece.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ French Rear Admiral's ship "La Therese" (1669)
  2. ^ Καθημερινή 7 μέρες Ο Κρητικός πόλεμος in Greek
  3. ^ Καθημερινή 7 μέρες. Μεγάλα ναυάγια page 28-32 in Greek with photographs.


  • Ο Κρητικος πόλεμος 1645-1669 . Χρυσούλας Τζομπανάκη ISBN 978-960-92052-4-5
  • Istoria dela guerra di Candia . Andrea Valiero
  • Η Υποβρύχια Έρευνα στον κόλπο Δερματά του Ηρακλείου Κρήτης (1988), Μαρία Αναγνοστοπούλου-Νίκος Λιανός, Αρχαιολογικά Ανάλεκτα εξ Αθηνών (ΑΑΑ), τόμος ΧΙΧ (1986), Αρχαιολογικά Χρονικά, 63-70.