Louis XIV's Prestige Ship on the Mediterranean
The fleet of French galleys from the Louis XIV era reached its apogee with this ship. Formerly as important as the Venetian and Genoese fleets, the French Mediterranean galley force consisted of about a hundred ships, floating prisons, with a warlike role, gradually blunted since the appearance of the galleon.
Louis XIV was to be present on all fronts, as the larger, most populated, richest of the great powers of the time, it relied on Colbert's ships for its Atlantic facade. The Soleil Royal, her admiral ship, was one of the most illustrious representatives, but in the Mediterranean the Reale of France was its equivalent.
The "Sun King" wanted his "mare nostrum". To do this, a type of galley of high rank was created, the "Reale", which remains one of the most sumptuous floating objects. With 33 and 34 oars on respective sides, for 6 or 7 rowers each, it had on board a total of about 600 rowers, including those kept "in reserve" in the lower deck. There was in addition a musketeer guard of 100 men, about twenty gunners, fifty sailors, not counting officers and lackeys. Altogether, nearly 800 men found a place on this monster, more than 65 meters long by 12 meters wide (without rows). The reale carried six cannon stacked at the front, and two in its stern. It was rather a parade ship than a warship, lacking agility at sea.