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The New International Encyclopædia/Barth, Jean

BARTH, bärt, Fr. pron. bär, or BART, Jean (1651-1702). A French naval hero. He was born at Dunkirk, and at an early age entered the Dutch Navy, but on the outbreak of war between Prance and Holland, he passed over to the French service. As persons not of noble birth could not then obtain the rank of officer in the navy, he became captain of a privateer. In this capacity he displayed astonishing bravery, so that Louis XIV. dispatched him on a special mission to the Mediterranean. He became a terror to the Dutch Navy and a serious menace to the commerce of Holland. On one occasion, with six vessels, he broke through a blockading fleet, shattered a number of the enemy's ships, and convoyed a transport of grain safely into Dunkirk Harbor. His exploits overcame the disadvantages of his birth, and he was made lieutenant and soon after captain in the regular navy. In an action against a superior English force he was taken prisoner, and carried to Plymouth, from which he made his escape in an open fishing-boat to France. His career continued to be a succession of dare-devil exploits carried out with consummate coolness. He cost the English and the Dutch merchants many millions, and their navies many ships. He was later ennobled by the King, but always remained the same gruff, common sailor. Consult: Badin, Jean Bart (Paris, 1867); Landelle, Jean Bart et son fils (Paris, 1874).