Aged 17, a Knight of Malta, he fought his first naval battle on a frigate of the Order of Malta.
At 25 he joined the French Royal Navy, and started an active career, fighting the 1673 campaign on the Sans-Pareil, at the taking of Agosta where he was in command of the Syrene, and later in command of the Sceptre.
He served under Abraham Duquesne during the campaigns of 1676, and became a commander in 1690 during the War of the Grand Alliance. He put his flag on the Soleil-Royal, where it would stay until the battle of La Hougue in 1692. At the Battle of Beachy Head (Victoire de Béveziers), he defeated an Anglo-Dutch fleet, sinking and capturing 15 enemy ships.
On 29 May 1692, at Barfleur, with only 45 ships, he inflicted heavy losses on a 97-ship strong English and Dutch fleet, and forced them to retreat; however, he himself suffered heavy losses after the battle when fire ships attacked the French ships of the line immobilised for repairs in Cherbourg.