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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

February 21st, 1744 - The Battle of Toulon

Conflict: The War of the Austrian Succession

Combatants: British vs. Franco-Spanish

Location: France

Outcome: Inconclusive


In the first naval engagement of the War of Austrian Succession, the British navy sought to cut communications by sea between northern Italy and King Louis XV of France. Pursuant to this end, British Admiral Thomas Matthews blockaded the port of Toulon on the Mediterranean coast of France.


Battle of Toulon by Diego de Mesa

On this day in 1744, a Franco-Spanish fleet departed Toulon and Matthews moved to stop the ships. Believing that the Franco-Spanish fleet intended to distract his British warships while another Spanish fleet reinforced Italy, Matthews rushed into battle without proper formation. Admiral Richard Lestock either failed to understand Matthews' orders or deliberately disobeyed them. In either case, the Franco-Spanish fleet, which was equal to the size of the British, inflicted somewhat more damage than it received due to the confusion in orders.


HMS Marlborough apres bataille de Toulon 1744 by an unknown artist

Points of Interest:

  • British Admiral Thomas Matthews and three of his officers were court-martialed in the aftermath.

  • Admiral Richard Lestock, who had political connections, was acquitted of charges of disobedience.


Admiral Thomas Mathews by Claude Arnulphy
Admiral Richard Lestock by John Faber Junior









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