The exact launch date of the Flagship of the French Fleet, SOLEIL ROYAL with its 104 cannons, is a matter of dispute. Many historians say 1690 whilst others are of the opinion that she was engaged in combat in the Mediterranean Sea as early as the 1670’s.
In May 1692 Aun-Hilarion de Cotentin, Count of Tourville and Marshal of France, who was captain of the SOLEIL ROYAL at the same time, achieved his hour of glory. On the 12th of May he sailed from Brest with a formation of 45 ships and on May 29th, approximately 21 nautical miles north-east of the headland of Barfleur, he was confronted by the English and Dutch fleets with a combined strength of 97 vessels. After a bloody battle lasting 12 hours it was the British and Dutch who took refuge flight after suffering heavy losses. Thereafter three of the French fleet, including the SOLEIL ROYAL, was hauled up onto the beach at Cherbourg for repairs.