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Title: The military engineer Frà Antoine Etienne de Tousard (1751-1813) : a loyal hospitaller or traitor?
Authors: Brincat, Fleur
Keywords: Military engineering -- Malta -- History -- 18th century
France -- History -- Revolution, 1789-1799
Malta -- History -- French occupation, 1798-1800
Issue Date: 2014
Abstract: This study is divided into four chapters as follows: Chapter 1 introduces the period during which Antoine Etienne Tousard sojourned on Malta. The political ordeal faced by the Order of St John, following the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, caused a schism with France. Therefore, this chapter succinctly explains the impact of the French Revolution on the Order and introduces Grand Master de Rohan’s diplomatic campaign, towards which Tousard contributed. It also introduces Antoine Etienne de Tousard and his family roots. Chapter 2 traces the military education and training of Antoine Etienne at the École de Mezieres and the changes that his engineering corps experienced pre-and-post revolution. Tousard’s employment in this service-arm of the French army was crucial for his decision making in the final years of the Order on Malta. In addition, this chapter discusses the manner with which Tousard was invited to serve on Malta in 1791, his military contributions to the Order and Malta, including his best piece of defensive bulwark, (Fort Tigné) and the novel fortification design which he borrowed from his contemporary General Jean Le Michaud d’Arçon. While it brings out Tousard’s connection with this celebrated general, the chapter queries why a military engineer, who dedicated himself to the defence of the Order, was accused of being a traitor to the same Order. The answer to this is approached in chapter 3. Chapter 3 describes Tousard’s reluctance to prolong his stay on Malta and his difficulty in returning to France. Tousard’s diplomatic work under de Rohan is explained and considered as Tousard’s display of loyalty towards his Order at a time of great political turmoil. It also relates the engineer’s involvement in the defence of the island a few weeks prior the Republicans’ arrival and his seemingly negative attitude before the capitulation of the island. The chapter also analyses documented proof, both from primary and secondary sources that have cast doubt on Tousard’s loyalty to the Religion. It also, briefly, outlines Tousard’s military career and contributions to the French army following his departure from Malta. Chapter 4 deals with Tousard’s final years, including his highest achievements, his family tragedy, and his demise in Hamburg. It is then followed up by a conclusion regarding the allegations of Tousard’s treachery to the Order. The presence of Antoine Etienne de Tousard in the archives of the Order of St John, conserved at the National Library of Malta in Valletta is rather limited. He is mentioned in the minutes of the Order’s Congregation of War records, the petitions to the Order, the proofs of nobility, and in a few Library Manuscripts- apart from secondary sources which have included him in accounts of the loss of Malta. Historical studies on hospitaller fortifications, particularly those by Dr. Stephen C. Spiteri, have also referred to Tousard as an important contributor to the military architecture of late eighteenth-century Malta. For this reason, most of my supportive research has been conducted in Parisian archives, namely, the National Archives in Paris and Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the military archive at the Chateau de Vincennes in the section Armée du Terre, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France at the François Mitterrand and the Richelieu sites, as well as, the Bibliotheque Mazarin. The personal collection of one of Antoine Etienne de Tousard’s descendants, Bruno Revol, has also been crucial for the compiling of Tousard’s biographical details, portraits, and family roots. Unfortunately, a number of Tousard’s memoires and reports are only referred to without being quoted from extensively, owing to the prescribed word limit of this dissertation. As a military engineer, Tousard drew up numerous plans of his fortification works, however, only a handful are presented in this work as most of his plans (particularly those he executed in his later campaigns) have not, as yet, been traced.
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2014
Dissertations - FacArtHis - 2014

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