Counter-Revolution? Toulon, 1793

The spectacular defection of France's principal naval base to the British should be seen less as a master-stroke by forces of reaction and more as the anguished response of local moderates to the Revolution's extremes.

On August 27th, 1793, when the revolutionary republican government of France was struggling desperately to defend the frontiers against the armies of the First Coalition, the great naval base of Toulon was suddenly surrendered to the British. Accepting an otter of military alliance from Admiral Hood, the commander of the British fleet which was blockading the port, the Toulonnais also accepted a restoration of the monarchy, formally recognising Louis XVII, an imprisoned child, as their king. Thus at one stroke the Republic lost its principal naval base and the bulk of its naval forces in the Mediterranean.

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