Campaign of the Month: August 2011
Le Ballet de l'Acier
Arsenal des Galères
The arsenal of the French galley squadron is located at the head of the Vieux Port in Marseille. Galleys are constructed using prefabricated pieces at the arsenal and the prisoners who man the oars are housed here as well.
The arsenal was established in the late thirteenth century by successive counts of Provence; a fleet of forty galleys were stationed here to battle the naval forces of the kings of Aragon and to protect the city and the coast from the ravages of pirates. The number of galleys and the condition of the arsenal would wax and wane under the reigns of successive rulers, reaching a peak under King François I in the sixteenth century. Like other French naval assets, the galley squadron declined toward the end of the sixteenth century as funding by the crown was diverted elsewhere; by the time of Henri IV, the merchants of Marseille were forced to build their own privateers to protect trade due to the poor condition of the French naval galleys, and these privateer galleys are in turn hired by the crown to help control piracy.