Armored cruiser Edgar Quinet

The armoured cruiser Edgar Quinet belonged to the ship class of the same name, which consisted of 2 ships and was one of the last armoured cruisers built in France.


Launch and design:

Already with the construction of the Ernest Renan armored cruiser, a significant increase in firepower in the armored cruiser sector was aimed at. The two ships of the Edgar Quinet class, however, should exceed this once again.

Special emphasis was placed on a uniform main armament with a total of 14 x 194 mm guns, whereby basically only the 164 mm guns of the predecessor model were replaced by guns with a larger caliber. The 47 mm guns, which were balanced with a higher number of 20 x 65 mm guns, were also omitted. The ships of the Edgar Quinet class were thus the most powerful armoured cruisers of the French Navy.

The ships were powered by three 4-cylinder triple expansion engines driven by 40 Belleville coal boilers in the Edgar Quinet and 42 Niclausse boilers in the Waldeck-Rousseau. The output amounted to 36.000 hp, which meant that a maximum speed of 23 knots could be achieved. In order to better protect the propulsion system against damage, the triple expansion motors were each housed in a separate protected area, and the boilers were installed in pairs in watertight compartments.

The armor on the ship's belt was 150 mm, which was reduced to 70 mm at the front and 40 mm at the rear. The ships had 2 armoured decks, the lower one 65 mm thick and the upper one 30 mm thick. The armor of the two twin turrets remained at 200 mm, the casemates at 194 mm only slightly less.

The type ship was named after the French historian and intellectual Edgar Quinet (1803 - 1875).

The launch of the Edgar Quinet then took place on 21 September 1907, the commissioning in January 1911.



Edgar Quinet, namesake of the ship


Launch of the armoured cruiser Edgar Quinet


Armored cruiser Edgar Quinet




History of Edgar Quinet:

After the test runs and the commissioning the Edgar Quinet was the most powerful armoured cruiser France had built until then. However, the battle cruiser HMS Invincible had already been put into service in Great Britain 2 years before and thus made the class of the armoured cruiser superfluous.

In April 1912 the Edgar Quinet was combined with the sister ship Waldeck-Rousseau and the armoured cruiser Ernest Renan in the 1st Light Squadron. With this several manoeuvres and exercises in the Mediterranean were accomplished afterwards.

In the year 1913 the Edgar Quinet participated in the international squadron in the Mediterranean, consisting of ships from France, Great Britain, Italy, Austria-Hungary and the German Empire. This was intended to demonstrate military power during the Balkan wars and exert pressure on the countries involved. Among other things, the Montenegrin coast was blocked so that Serbian troops would not receive any further supplies.



Drawing of the armored cruiser Edgar Quinet




Use in war:

After the outbreak of the First World War the armoured cruisers of the 1st Light Division were used to find and sink the German ships Goeben and Breslau in the Mediterranean Sea. With further 12 destroyers the harbour in Philippeville should serve for this, this was bombarded however one day before the arrival of the ships by the German ships and was partly destroyed.

Since a breakout of the German ships into the Atlantic was feared, the French ships were transferred afterwards into the western Mediterranean to block the way. When it became apparent that the German ships would not sail into the Atlantic, but into the Ottoman Constantinople, the ships were transferred to the coast of Austria-Hungary.

During the blockade of the ports only the Austrian ship Zenta could be sunk, the rest of the fleet remained in the ports. At the end of 1914, as the threat from submarines increased, the ships were withdrawn to the southern Mediterranean.

On 8 January 1916 the Edgar Quinet, together with the ships Ernest Renan, Waldeck-Rousseau and Jules Ferry, took part in the occupation of the Greek island of Corfu. For this purpose, French mountain troops were brought ashore in the night from 10 to 11 January. Although the Greek officials protested against the occupation, they did not offer any resistance.

Until the end of the war, the Edgar Quinet only provided security.




Post-war deployment:

After the war, Edgar Quinet remained in the eastern Mediterranean to observe the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent Greek-Turkish war. The ship was also used to take survivors of the great fire of Smyrna in 1922 and bring them to safety.

From 1925 to 1927 the ship was extensively rebuilt to be used as a training ship. A following journey led it among other things also to the United States of America, where it visited San Diego in California in 1928.

In 1929 a further reconstruction was carried out, so that now devices were installed which made it possible to transport and take up seaplanes. After the conversion it was used for cadets of the École Navale.



The armoured cruiser Edgar Quinet 1928 in San Diego, California





During a training trip in the Mediterranean Sea, the Edgar Quinet ran aground off the coast of Algeria west of Oran on 4 January 1930 and got stuck. Since the ship could no longer be towed from the ground and the damage was too great, it was abandoned and the crew evacuated. On 9 January it finally sank.




Ship data:


Edgar Quinet



Type of ship:  

Armored cruiser


Edgar Quinet-Classe

Building yard:  

Arsenal de Lorient

Building costs:  



September 21st, 1907


January 1911


Run aground on January 4, 1930, sank on January 9


158,9 metres


21,51 metres


Maximum 8,41 metres


Maximum 13.847 tons


859 - 892 men




three 4-cylinder triple expansion engines

40 Belleville coal boilers


36.000 HP (27.000 kW)

Maximum speed:  

23 knots (43 kilometres per hour)




14 × 194 mm guns

20 × 65 mm guns

2 × 450 mm torpedo tubes


Belt: 150 mm
Gun turrets: 200 mm
Casemates: 194 mm
Command tower: 203 mm
Deck: 30 - 65 mm






You can find the right literature here:


French Battleships 1914–45 (New Vanguard)

French Battleships 1914–45 (New Vanguard) Paperback – January 22, 2019

This authoritative study examines the French Navy's last battleships, using detailed color plates and historical photographs, taking them from their inception before World War I, through their service in World War II including the scuttling of the French fleet at Toulon in 1943, and the service of Richelieu in the war against Japan.

On September 1, 1910, France became the last great naval power to lay down a dreadnought battleship, the Courbet. The ensuing Courbet and Bretagne-class dreadnoughts had a relatively quiet World War I, spending most of it at anchor off the entrance to the Adriatic, keeping watch over the Austro-Hungarian fleet. The constraints of the Washington Naval Treaty prevented new battleships being built until the 1930s, with the innovative Dunkerque-class and excellent Richelieu-class of battleships designed to counter new German designs.

After the fall of France in 1940, the dreadnoughts and fast battleships of the Marine Nationale had the unique experience of firing against German, Italian, British, and American targets during the war.

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French Battleships of World War One

French Battleships of World War One Hardcover – June 15, 2017

When war broke out in August 1914 France had only two dreadnoughts in service, with a second pair running trials. The main body of the elite Armée Navale was made up of the eleven battleships of the Patrie and Danton classes, both of which were intermediate designs with two main gun calibers. Older ships included survivors of the notorious Flotte d'echantillons ('fleet of samples') of the 1890 program and their successors designed during the 1890s.

This book traces the development of French battleships from 1890 to 1922, and also covers the extensive modifications made to the survivors during the interwar period. It is liberally illustrated throughout with line drawings and labelled schematics, plus photographs from the extensive Caresse collection, many of which are previously unpublished.

This is the most comprehensive account of these ships published in English or French, and is destined be the standard reference for many years to come.

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French Armoured Cruisers 1887–1932

French Armoured Cruisers 1887–1932 Hardcover – November 1, 2019

Of all the threats faced by the Royal Navy during the first years of the twentieth century, the one which stood out was the risk to Britain's sea lines of communication posed by France's armored cruisers. Fast, well-armed, and well-protected, these ships could have evaded any attempted blockade of the French ports and, supported by a worldwide network of overseas bases, could potentially have caused havoc on the trade routes.

The primary focus of the book is on the technical characteristics of the ships. Detailed and labeled drawings based on the official plans are provided by John Jordan, and each individual class of ship is illustrated by photographs from the extensive personal collection of Philippe Caresse. The technical section is followed by a history in two parts, covering the Great War (1914-18) and the postwar years, during which the surviving ships saw extensive deployment as "station" cruisers overseas and as training ships. This is the most comprehensive account published in English or in French and is destined to be the standard reference for many years to come.

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To Crown the Waves: The Great Navies of the First World War

To Crown the Waves: The Great Navies of the First World War Hardcover – July 15, 2013

The only comparative analysis available of the great navies of World War I--each chapter is written by a recognzed expert fluent in the subject language. The work studies the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom (John Roberts), the German Kaiserliche Marine (Dr. Peter Schenk with Axel Niestlé and Dieter Thomaier) the United States Navy (Trent Hone), the French Marine Nationale (Jean Moulin), the Italian Regia Marina (Enrico Cernuschi and Vincent P. O'Hara) the Austro-Hungarian Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine (Zvonimir Freivogel), and the Imperial Russian Navy (Stephen McLaughlin) to demonstrate why the war was won, not in the trenches, but upon the waves. It explains why these seven fleets fought the way they did and why the war at sea did not develop as the admiralties and politicians of 1914 expected.

After discussing each navy's goals and circumstances and how their individual characteristics impacted the way they fought, the authors deliver a side-by-side analysis of the conflict's fleets, with each chapter covering a single navy. Parallel chapter structures assure consistent coverage of each fleet--history, training, organization, doctrine, materiel, and operations--and allow readers to easily compare information among the various navies. The book clearly demonstrates how the naval war was a collision of 19th century concepts with 20th century weapons that fostered unprecedented development within each navy and sparked the evolution of the submarine and aircraft carrier. The work is free from the national bias that infects so many other books on World War I navies. As they pioneer new ways of viewing the conflict, the authors provide insights and material that would otherwise require a massive library and mastery of multiple languages. Such a study has special relevance today as 20th-century navies struggle to adapt to 21st-century technologies.

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