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Florent de Varennes

Louis IX of France towards the Eighth Crusade

Florent de Varennes (died in Tunis in August 1270) is the first French dignitary to wear the title of Admiral of France in 1269, and as such, became the head of the fleet during the Eighth Crusade and the last led by King Saint Louis IX.


He is lord of Varennes, in Picardy.

He was married to Yolande de Nesle, daughter of John II de Nesle, Count of Soissons and Marie de Chimay. They had a son Mathieu.[1]

Eighth Crusade

Florent, lord of Varennes, on the 2nd boat, with his shield "Gules a Cross Or", heading to the Crusade

We are on 2 July 1270. On board of the Montjoie, high nave whose sails fill with wind, King Saint Louis opens the way of old canal Aigues Mortes to 70 vessels, mostly Genoese and Venetian : "Already old, I begin the overseas journey. I sacrifice to God wealth, honor, pleasure ... I wanted to give you this last example and I hope you will follow it if circumstances dictate ... ".[2]

The first part of the journey is hectic. They stopped in Sardinia. The King sent Florent de Varennes as a scout towards the Sards. But, since their boats were genoan, antagonism made them unwelcome. Food was delivered against high costs[3]

On July 17, the army arrived on the Tunisian coast. According to the royal secretary, Jean de Condé, reporting the episode, the King sends Florent de Varennes to recognize the land, with a few men. He finds an empty harbour with only a few Muslim and genoan merchant ships. He sends a mesenger to the king. The royal council is divided on the strategy to adopt  : for some, it is a trap, for others, one should take advantage of the situation and desembark. Florent de Varennes, without referring to the King, desembarks his troops on the platform closing Tunis harbour. Although he is furious, the King joins with the rest of the crew. The operation is a capharnaum but hopefully, no ennemy showed up.

On July 21, one seized the tower of La Goulette and the army settles in the plain of Carthage. The Castle of Carthage is conquered by genoan sailors.

Waiting for the reinforcement of Charles of Anjou, King of Sicily to attack Tunis, a dysentery epidemic decimates lords - water pollution and excessive heat not helping . Florent de Varennes and John Tristan, Count of Valois, son of Louis IX are among the victims.[4]

Saint Louis expires too on August 25, by the time of the arrival of Charles of Anjou. The latter defeated the Saracens and signed a treaty with the Sultan on 30 October 1270. Philip, Count of Orléans, his elder son, who became King Philip III of France, sailed back on November 11 [2]


Florent's coat of arms was "Gules a Cross Or" (Red with a golden cross) and is still the coat of arms of the village of Varennes, Departement of the Somme, Region Picardy [5]

Admirals of France

This title was conferred in Sicily under the Norman King Roger from 1142, and was borrowed from the Arabs by Europeans, from the name "Amir", man who is granted a commandment.

From Florent de Varennes to François Thomas Tréhouart, there has been 73 admirals of France.


  1. ^ Geneanet, Florent de Varennes
  2. ^ a b Net Marine, Florent de Varennes (French)
  3. ^ Website "A la découverte de l'Histoire de France", Les Capétiens, Louis IX, La huitième Croisade, Départ de la Huitième Croisade
  4. ^ Website "A la découverte de l'Histoire de France", Les Capétiens, Louis IX, La huitième Croisade, Louis IX débarque à Tunis
  5. ^ Père Anselme de Sainte-Marie (1625-1694), "Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de France, des pairs, grands officiers de la couronne & de la maison du Roy, & des anciens barons du royaume ...", Third Edition, Ed. Compagnies des libraires associés, Paris, 1733, Seventh Tome, Amirals de France, p 732