This history examines the British Navy as an institution as well as an agent of national policy. It describes actions in war and peace, but also its administrative, political, social, economic, financial and technical history, setting each in the context of the deveolopment of society at large. It is not so much a history of the Navy but a naval history of the country. It also looks at the British Navy in an international context.
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"Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves...." The dominance of the British Royal Navy in maritime history is legendary, but this has not always been the case. Various attempts to build and sustain a national standing navy were attempted by a number of rulers, from Edward the Confessor in the 11th century to Henry V in the 15th century. It wasn't until the Tudor reign (1485 to 1603), however, that a permanent, effective navy emerged. Until this time the shores of Britain had been susceptible to attack and invasion. N.A.M. Rodger's compendium on the history of the Royal Navy (the first of a four volume set) reminds us that "the successful navies have been those which rested on long years of steady investment in the infrastructure ... of a seagoing fleet." Emphasizing the important role the Tudors played in building the financial foundation for the navy, Rodger focuses on the role of Elizabeth I's administration and the amount of money shipbuilding absorbed during her reign. He also traces the evolution of professionalism in the navy, demonstrating how the rank of naval officer became socially respectable, even though it was not exclusively open to just nobles--indeed, Francis Drake came from an impoverished background--setting a standard that would see the British navy dominate the oceans for many years.
A fellow in the British National Maritime Museum, Rodger's unique understanding of this history comes across well as he explores a number of themes, ranging from policy and strategy to ship and weapon design. He gathers this information from Anglo-Saxon, Danish, French, Irish, and Spanish sources, carefully weaving these materials into an immense tapestry of incredible depth and scope. In years to come The Safeguard of the Sea promises to be the definitive account of British naval history long after Britannia has stopped ruling the waves.Review:
From the reviews of The Wooden World:
‘The fullest, brightest and altogether most readable picture that I know of the Royal Navy that beat the Spanish and French navies in the Seven Years’
Richard Hough, Daily Telegraph
‘This excellent book, both scholarly and readable, gives us a new approach to the 18th-century British Navy, which helps to explain its historic achievement and illuminates the society of which it was a characteristic and resounding expression throughout the world.’
A. L. Rowse
‘A deeply satisfying book firmly based on new evidence but highly readable; it is enlivened by a multitude of startling and hilarious incidents, recounted with style and wit, and a whole gallery of amazing characters, from ratings to admirals.’
John Kenyon, Observer
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1997. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0002551284