The Emergence of Britain's Global Naval Supremacy

November 2010
8 black and white, 26 line illustrations
392 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Library eBook
Boydell Press

The Emergence of Britain's Global Naval Supremacy

The War of 1739-1748

Richard Harding

Discusses the lessons which Britain learned in the war of 1739-48 which, when applied in later wars, brought about Britain's global naval supremacy.
The British involvement in the war of 1739-1748 has been generally neglected. Standing between the great victories of Marlborough in the War of Spanish Succession [1701-1713] and the even greater victories of the Seven Years War [1756-1763], it has been dismissed as inconclusive and incompetently managed. For the first time this book brings together the political and operational conduct of the war to explore its contribution to a critical development in British history during the eighteenth century - the emergence of Britain as the paramount global naval power.
The war posed a unique set of problems for British politicians, statesmen and servicemen. They had to overcome domestic and diplomatic crises, culminating in the rebellion of 1745 and the threat of French invasion. Yet, far from being incompetent, these people handled the crises and learned a great deal about the conduct of global warfare. The changes they made and decisions they took prepared Britain for the decisive Anglo-French clash of arms in the Seven Years War. In this misunderstood war lie some of the key factors that made Britain the greatest naval power for the next one hundred and fifty years.

RICHARD HARDING is Professor of Organisational History and Head of the Department of Leadership and Development at the University of Westminster. He is the author of numerous articles and books on naval history and is currently Chairman of the Society for Nautical Research.

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Table of Contents

The Route to War, 1738-9
Mobilisation and the Outbreak of War, June - October 1739
The Opening Moves, October 1739 - January 1741
The Widening War and the Fall of Sir Robert Walpole, January 1741 - February 1742
Shifting Focus: The Growth of the Continental Commitment, February 1742 - December 1742
The Continental Commitment, January 1743 - February 1744
War with France and the Crisis of the Worms Policy, February 1744 - December 1744
Rebellion and the End of the Flanders Policy, January 1745 - December 1745
Europe and America: the Critical Balance, January 1746 - December 1746
Newcastle's War: The End in Europe and America, January 1747 - October 1748
Conclusion: The Peace and British Naval Power


A great addition to the literature on European conflict from 1739 to 1748. INTERNATIONAL HISTORY A work of the first importance, which will become the standard text on the British side of the war. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NAUTICAL ARCHAEOLOGY

his fine book undoubtedly will stand for a long time as the pre-eminent secondary source on a major, complex conflict that gets ignored too often. INTERNATIONALL JOURNAL OF MARITIME HISTORY

An excellent, one volume reappraisal of British conduct in the war that ensnared Europe and North America between 1739 and 1748. [Harding's] grasp of the administrative side of the war is unrivalled. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF HISTORY

A well-written and informative book with a finely-balanced interpretation that is likely to stand the test of time. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

Harding writes in his clear, easy style and makes a compelling case that some key lessons were learned from this forgotten war. THE NAVY REVIEW

This major contribution to the rewriting of eighteenth-century British history bringing together the political and the operation conduct of the war is a must read for anyone interested in the history of the Royal Navy in the Age of Sail. NORTHERN MARINER

A valuable contribution to the study of the 18th-century Royal Navy. Recommended. CHOICE

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