The origins of a permanent French sailing navy can be traced to the work of Cardinal Richelieu in the 1620s, but this naval force declined rapidly in the 1650s and a virtually new Marine Royale had to be re-created by Colbert from 1661. Thereafter, Louis XIV"s navy grew rapidly to become the largest and most powerful in the world, at the same time establishing a reputation for the quality of its ship design that lasted until the end of sail. The eighteenth century was to see defeat and decline, revival and victory, but by 1786 the French Navy had emerged from its most successful naval war having frequently outfought or outmanoeuvred the British Navy in battle, and in the process making a major contribution to American independence.This book is the first comprehensive listing of these ships in English, and follows the pattern set by its companion volume on the 1786–1861 period in providing an impressive depth of information. It is organised by Rate, classification and class, with significant technical and building data, followed by highlights of the careers of each ship in every class. Thus for the first time it is possible to form a clear picture of the overall development of French warships throughout the whole of the sailing era.Certain to become the standard English-language reference work, its publication is of the utmost importance to every naval historian and general reader interested in the navies of the sailing era.