Pax Britannica pp 260-285 | Cite as

Recessional: The End of Pax Britannica and the American Inheritance

  • Barry Gough
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


The termination of Pax came with the end of so-called Splendid Isolation and its fateful replacement, the Continental Commitment. That is the comfortable view from our times. Apart from these British-centric reasons, a more powerful explanation comes in the form of the German threat and the unleashing of German power on and over the seas coincident with the events of August 1914. The course of events lay beyond the control of the British Empire once the British Cabinet made the fateful commitment to give an ultimatum to Germany that the independence of Belgium must be respected. A history of the great and tragic conflict that was the ruin of Europe and set in train a whole host of misery, death, revolution, and social and intellectual discord lies outside this book. The naval history of the First World War does not belong in these pages. However, once the dogs of war were unleashed, the Kaiser’s navy enjoyed great success before collapsing in revolution. It raided English towns, attacked British merchant shipping in distant seas, engaged the Grand Fleet at Jutland and nearly won, and mounted a formidable U-boat campaign that was so effective that in early 1917 the first sea lord, Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, held the view that the British could not hang on much longer — though a reversal of fortunes came with the introduction of convoys and the later assistance of US naval units. That time had marked the greatest peril faced by the British Empire.


Slave Trade Falkland Island North Atlantic Treaty Organization British Empire Drone Strike 
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© Barry Gough 2014

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  • Barry Gough

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