1811: Franco-British Naval Battle at Croatian Island of Vis

1811: Franco-British Naval Battle at Croatian Island of Vis
Photo Credit To Henri Merke after a painting by George Webster, 1812

Story Highlights

  • Historical date:
  • 13. March 1811
  • The fleet of Napoleon's France, led by Admiral Dubourdieu, attacked the British in an attempt to take over their possession of the island of Vis. Namely, at that time Vis was under British control, but was also a very strong pirate base (it was in the interest of the British for the pirates to plunder the surrounding French ships).

On this day a significant Franco-British naval battle took place near the Croatian island of Vis.

The significance of it lay in the fact that the British managed to be victorious over Napoleon’s stronger French fleet in the middle of the Adriatic Sea and maintain their power over the strategic island of Vis (most of the rest of the Croatian coast belonged to the French at that time).

Naval battles of that era are probably best known to present day film audiences from the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) starring Russell Crowe. Namely, the events in the film take place at around that time, but in more distant seas.

The Battle of Vis took place north of the coast of the island Vis. The French fleet, led by Admiral Bernard Dubourdieu, attacked the British in an attempt to take over their possession of the island of Vis.

The latter stages of the battle. The burning Favorite can be seen in the background. / Henri Merke after a painting by George Webster, 1812
The latter stages of the battle. The burning Favorite can be seen in the background. / Henri Merke after a painting by George Webster, 1812

The British squadron of ships was commanded by Captain William Hoste. He had only 4 ships, while the French attacked with as much as 12.

Nevertheless, Captain Hoste managed to win and retain the island of Vis. Indeed, apparently at that time Vis was also a strong pirate base (it was in the interest of the British for the pirates to plunder the surrounding French ships).

Apparently the island prospered because of that and grew to as many as 12,000 residents, more than ever before or since.

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