Empire of the Seas

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


In the era of Pax Britannica the Royal Navy won most of its battles while riding at anchor, in showing the flag on distant seas, and in undertaking a myriad of gunboat actions or of landing parties on faraway coasts. In the long history of British statecraft, it had been a tacitly accepted rule that the operation of British sea power was to be felt in the enemy’s rather than in British waters. “The hostile coast was regarded strategically as the British frontier, and the sea was looked upon as territory which the enemy must be prevented from invading.”1 Acceptance of this led to blockades and to watching the enemy’s movements. Having a navy stronger in number of ships or in general efficiency than that of the hostile nation was a British necessity. This was an accepted British policy. As a force for mobilization in time of need, the British Navy had no rival on the world stage.


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  2. Andrew D. Lambert, The Crimean War: British Grand Strategy against Russia, 1853–1856 (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 1990) gives more specifics about maritime strategy and the defeat of Russia. The Ottoman Empire was the beneficiary.Google Scholar
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© Barry Gough 2014

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  • Barry Gough

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