1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Forbin, Claude de
FORBIN, CLAUDE DE (1656–1733), French naval commander, was born in Provence, of a family of high standing, in 1656. High-spirited and ungovernable in his boyhood, he ran away from his home, and through the influence of an uncle entered the navy, serving his first campaign in 1675. For a short time he quitted the navy and entered the army, but soon returned to his first choice. He made under D’Estrées the American campaign, and under Duquesne that of Algiers in 1683, on all occasions distinguishing himself by his impetuous courage. The most remarkable episode of his life was his mission to Siam. During the administration of the Greek adventurer Phaulcon in that country, the project was formed of introducing the Christian religion and European civilization, and the king sent an embassy to Louis XIV. In response a French embassy was sent out, Forbin accompanying the chevalier de Chaumont with the rank of major. When Chaumont returned to France, Forbin was induced to remain in the service of the Siamese king, and accepted, though with much reluctance, the posts of grand admiral, general of all the king’s armies and governor of Bangkok. His position, however, was soon made untenable by the jealousy and intrigues of the minister Phaulcon; and at the end of two years he left Siam, reaching France in 1688. He was afterwards fully engaged in active service, first with Jean Bart in the war with England, when they were both captured and taken to Plymouth. They succeeded in making their escape and were soon serving their country again. Forbin was wounded at the battle of La Hogue, and greatly distinguished himself at the battle of Lagos. He served under D’Estrées at the taking of Barcelona, was sent ambassador to Algiers, and in 1702 took a brilliant part in the Mediterranean in the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1706 he took command of a squadron at Dunkirk, and captured many valuable prizes from the Dutch and the English. In 1708 he was entrusted with the command of the squadron which was to convey the Pretender to Scotland; but so effectually were the coasts guarded by Byng that the expedition failed, and returned to Dunkirk. Forbin was now beginning to be weighed down with the infirmities of age and the toils of service, and in 1710 he retired to a country house near Marseilles. There he spent part of his time in writing his memoirs, published in 1730, which are full of interest and are written in a graphic and attractive style. Forbin died on the 4th of March 1733.