Britannia's Glories

Britannia's Glories

The Walpole Ministry and the 1739 War with Spain

Philip Woodfine

`The War of Jenkins Ear' examined for the first time in a full-length study, looking at the vitality of popular politics and the inner workings of Parliament during the time.
This first full-length study of the 1739 war with Spain, the so-called `War of Jenkins' Ear', looks at both the Spanish and the British side of disputes arising from illicit British trading in the Spanish ports of the Caribbean and the sometimes brutal depredations committed by the Spanish ships licensed to suppress it. It considers the domestic contexts in both countries, including the pressures which bore upon unpopular monarchs and their ministers; in particular, the author demonstrates the vigour with which opposition newspapers vaunted the heritage of British naval power: if ministers only had the political will, it was supposed, Britannia's glories would be revived and she would humble the cowardly popish foreigners of Spain and France. In examining foreign policy in the closing years of the long-lived Walpole ministry, light is also shed on the inner workings of `high politics', and new evidence offered on the development of the cabinet and the important role played by George II. The author concludes that the breakdown of complex and delicate Anglo-Spanish negotiations over the American trade was due not just to British popular outcry over Jenkins' ear but had a variety of causes, including entrenched national principles, and the interplay of individual personalities.
Dr PHILIP WOODFINE teaches in the Department of Humanities at the University of Huddersfield.


Fills one of the last remaining gaps in studies of the Walpole era... his lucidly written study is almost as exciting to read as a thrilller - a major achievement. HISTORY A painstakingly researched, lucid account of the slide to war between the two powers from 1738... A strong and significant piece of scholarship not just on an important episode in British eighteenth-century foreign policy, but on British politics in the final years of Walpole's ministryModern scholarship, fresh perspectives and insights, above all reassess[ing] the impact on Britain without neglecting the Spanish side of the story... an impressive monograph. ALBION [US] A pleasure to find this war has been given the attention it deserves... an excellent case-study of the sources of strength and weakness in mid eighteenth-century British government. BJECS

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