The duke was joined in May, and at Portsmouth, by 40 French ships under the comte d'Estrees, a soldier and noble who had been made an admiral late in life.
D'Estrees, who was stationed with his squadron at the south end of the line, went to sea on the port tack, heading to the S.E.
He was supplied with 54 ships and was joined early in the year by d'Estrees with 27.
On the 28th of May Rupert and d'Estrees, believing that De Ruyter was too much afraid of their superior numbers to venture to sea, sent in a squadron of light vessels and fire-ships to attack him, but he took the offensive at once, scattering the light squadron, and falling with energy on the restof the fleet, which, not being in expectation of a vigorous assault, was taken at a disadvantage.
Two naval demonstrations were made by France during the reign of Louis XIV., one by Abraham Duquesne in 1682, and the other by Marshal Jean d'Estrees in 1688, but these repressive measures were too intermittent to produce a durable effect.
In 1605 Conti, whose first wife Jeanne de Cdeme, heiress of Bonnetable, had died in 1601, married the beautiful and witty Louise Marguerite (1574-1631), daughter of Henry duke of Guise and Catherine of Cleves, whom, but for the influence of his mistress Gabrielle d'Estrees, Henry IV.
In June 1598 he left Holland and proceeded to Paris, where on the 10th of April 1 599 he saw the body of Gabrielle d'Estrees lying in state.