Renau D'Elisagaray, Bernard

, an able naval architect, was born in 1652, in Beurn, descended from the ancient house of Elisagaray in Navarre. The count de Vermandois, admiral of France, engaged his services in 1679, by a pension of a thousand crowns; and his opinion concerning the construction of ships was preferred to that of M. Duguesne, even by that gentleman himself. In consequence of this, Renau received orders to visit Brest and the other ports, that he might instruct the ship-builders, whose sons of fifteen or twenty years old he taught to build the largest ships, which had till then required the experience of twenty or thirty years. Having advised the bombardment of Algiers in 1680, he invented bomb-boats for that expedition, and the undertaking succeeded. After the admiral’s decease, M. Vauban placed M. Renau in a situation to conduct the sieges of Cadaquiers in Catalonia, of Philipsburg, Manheim, and Frankendal. In the midst of this tumultuous life he wrote his “Theorie de la manoeuvre des Vaisseaux,” which was published 1689, 8vo. The king, as a reward for M. Renau’s services, made him captain of a ship, with orders that he should have free access to, and a deliberative voice in the councils of the generals, an unlimited inspection of the navy, and authority to teach the officers any new methods of his invention; to | which was added a pension of 12,000 livres. The grand master of Malta requested his assistance to defend that island against the Turks, who were expected to besiege it; but the siege not taking place, M. Renau went back to France, and on his return was appointed counsellor to the navy, and grand croix of St. Louis. He died Sept. 30, 1719. He had been admitted an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences in 1699. He has left several Letters, in answer to the objections raised by Huygens and Bernouilli against his Theory abovementioned. He was a man of reflection, read little, but thought much; and, what appears a greater singularity, he meditated more deeply when in the midst of company, where he was frequently found, than in solitude, to which he seldom retired. He was very short, almost a dwarf, but adroit, lively, witty, brave, and the best engineer which France has produced, except M. de Vauban. 1