Русский | English

French and English Historiography on the Evacuation of Toulon in 1793

Verchenkova Victoria

The author analyzes the French and English literature about the siege of Toulon in 1793. A specific episode of these events, namely, the evacuation of allies in the anti-French coalition after the capture of the city by Republican troops is considered in this article. For about a century, there have been many deep-rooted myths in the historical literature concerning the actions of the Allies in Toulon. The reason for this was the endless search of those responsible for what happened. The author of this article demonstrates that the views of French and English historians on the same event differed. For example, the French blamed the British for their arrogance and wrote that they abandoned the population of Toulon, whom they promised to save. The Spaniards were represented by the French authors as noble and brave people who responded to calls for help. The English historians, on the contrary, exalted English officers and accused their allies, the Spaniards and Neapolitans, of cowardice. They were especially concerned about the episode of the burning of the French fleet, which could not be totally destroyed. The authors saw the reason for this in the hostility and betrayal of the Spaniards, who were against the burning of the fleet. Often, the researchers borrowed interpretations from each other without confirming it with any sources, so the same episode could be described verbatim by different authors. In addition, the researchers mainly used the sources of the one side, so they could not reproduce the full picture of what was happening. Only by the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries in France it appeared the first study based on both English and French sources, that permitted partially discard previous patterns. A similar work appeared in England twenty years later. This was the first step towards an objective history of the siege of Toulon.

Keywords: Great Britain, France, the Siege of Toulon, the War of the First Coalition, the French Revolution, historiography
Link: Verchenkova V. French and English Historiography on the Evacuation of Toulon in 1793 // Annual of French Studies 2022: The French outside of France.М. P. 340-355.

The study is sponsored by the Russian Science Foundation, grant 21-78-00078.


Min'e F. Istoriya francuzskoj revolyucii s 1789 do 1814. Sankt-Peterburg, 1906.

Olar A. Politicheskaya istoriya Francuzskoj revolyucii. Ch. 2. Moskva, 1938.

T'er A. Istoriya Francuzskoj revolyucii. T. 2. Moskva, 2016.

Brenton E. P. The naval history of Great Britain, from the year 1783‑1836. Vol. 1. London, 1837.

Brun V.-F. Guerres maritimes de la France : port de Toulon, ses armements, son administration, depuis son origine jusqu'à nos jours, T. 2. Paris, 1861.

Chevalier L.-E. Histoire de la marine française sous la première république : faisant suite à l'Histoire de la marine française pendant la guerre de l'indépendance américaine. Paris, 1886.

Cotton P. Toulon et les Anglais en 1793, d'après des documents inédits. Paris, 1898.

Crook M. Toulon in War and Revolution. Manchester, 1991.

Guerin L. Histoire maritime de France. T. 5. Paris, 1851.

Henry D.M.J. Histoire de Toulon depuis 1789 jusqu'au Consulat : d'après les documents de ses archives, T. 2. Toulon, 1855.

Ireland B. The fall of Toulon: the last opportunity to defeat the French revolution. London, 2007.

James W. The naval history of Great Britain, from the declaration of war by France in 1793 to the accession of George IV. Vol. 1. London, 1886.

Lauvergne H. Histoire de la Révolution française dans le département du Var, depuis 1789 jusqu'à 1798. Toulon, 1839.

Life and Letters of Sir Gilbert Elliot, First Earl of Minto, from 1751 to 1806. Vol. 2. London, 1874.

Rose J.-H. Lord Hood and the Defense of Toulon. Cambridge, 1922.

The Naval Chronicle / Ed. by J.S. Clarke, S. and J. Jones. Vol. 2. London, 1799.