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Empire of the Seas

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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Corporal Punishment Foreign Station Prize Money Retirement Scheme Naval College 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Cyprian Bridge, Sea-Power and Other Studies (London: Smith Elder, 1910), 51–52.Google Scholar
  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
  3. 2.
    The reference is to Christopher Cradock in Geoffrey Bennett, Coronel and Falklands (London: Pan, 1967), 15.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    C.J. Bartlett, Great Britain and Sea Power, 1815–1853 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1963);Google Scholar
  5. also Gerald S. Graham, The Politics of Naval Supremacy: Studies in British Maritime Ascendancy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), 108–110.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Much of what follows derives from Michael Lewis, The Navy in Transition: A Social History, 1814–1864 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1965), and by the same, A Social History of the Navy, 1793–1815 ([1960] London: Chatham, 2004).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Theodore Ropp, The Development of a Modern Navy: French Naval Policy, 1871–1904 (Annapolis, Naval Institute Press, 1987), 44.Google Scholar
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  9. Reforms in the cadet training ship Britannia may be followed in Commander E.P. Statham, The Story of the “Britannia” the Training Ship for Naval Cadets with Some Account of Previous Methods of Naval Education, and of the New Scheme of 1903 (London: Cassell, 1904).Google Scholar
  10. 9.
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  11. 14.
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  12. 15.
    Geoffrey L. Lowis, Fabulous Admirals and Some Naval Fragments (London: Putnam, 1957), 11.Google Scholar
  13. 16.
    John Winton, Jellicoe (London: Michael Joseph, 1981) is a good introduction,Google Scholar
  14. but see also A. Temple Paterson, Jellicoe (London: Macmillan, 1969).Google Scholar
  15. On the Victoria-Camperdown collision and problems of communications at sea during manoeuvres (or in battle), see Andrew Gordon, The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1996), especially 155–294.Google Scholar
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    For a recent analysis, see Denver Brunsman, The Evil Necessity: British Naval Impressment in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013).Google Scholar
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    See, for an introduction, Denver Brunsman, The Evil Necessity: British Naval Impressment in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013), 249–251.Google Scholar
  19. 27.
    Information from Eugene Rasor, 16 October 2011. For more details, see Eugene L. Rasor, Reform in the Royal Navy: A Social History of the Lower Deck, 1850 to 1880 (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1976).Google Scholar
  20. 29.
    Arnold Wilson, SW Persia: A Political Officers Diary, 1907–1914 (London: Oxford, 1941), 208.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Barry Gough 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Gough

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