Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, 660-1649

Overview

"[An] awesomely scholarly study. . . . The importance of this book is not only in its intrinsic interest, or its usefulness as a superb resource, but its demonstration that [Britain's] story cannot be told without a thorough knowledge of what happened at sea."—Alan Judd, Sunday Times [London]
Throughout the chronicle of Britain's history, one factor above all others has determined the fate of kings, the security of trade, and the integrity of the realm. Without its navy, Britain would have been a weakling among ...

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Overview

"[An] awesomely scholarly study. . . . The importance of this book is not only in its intrinsic interest, or its usefulness as a superb resource, but its demonstration that [Britain's] story cannot be told without a thorough knowledge of what happened at sea."—Alan Judd, Sunday Times [London]
Throughout the chronicle of Britain's history, one factor above all others has determined the fate of kings, the security of trade, and the integrity of the realm. Without its navy, Britain would have been a weakling among the nations of Europe, could never have built or maintained the empire, and in all likelihood would have been overrun by the armies of Napoleon and Hitler. Now, for the first time in nearly a century, a prominent naval historian has undertaken a comprehensive account of the history and traditions of this most essential institution. N. A. M. Rodger has produced a superb work, combining scholarship with narrative, that demonstrates how the political and social history of Britain has been inextricably intertwined with the strength-or weakness-of her seapower. From the early military campaigns against the Vikings to the defeat of the great Spanish Armada in the reign of Elizabeth I, this volume touches on some of the most colorful characters in British history. It also provides fascinating details on naval construction, logistics, health, diet, and weaponry. "A splendid book. It combines impressively detailed research with breadth of perception....[Rodger] has prepared an admirable historical record that will be read and reread in the years ahead."—Times [London]

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Editorial Reviews

Geoffrey Parker
"The Safeguard of the Sea," N.A.M. Rodger's breathtaking survey of a thousand years of British naval history, examines the slow process by which the peoples of the Atlantic archipelago learned, forgot and relearned how to use the sea for their defense. -- Geoffrey Parker, New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
A comprehensive thousand-year chronicle of naval history around the British Isles and of the vital importance of sea power in safeguarding a realm that provided an inviting target for marauders. Rodger (The Insatiable Earl, 1994) assistant keeper at London's Public Record Office, notes that England, in the period from the seventh to the ninth centuries, was profoundly vulnerable to penetration from the sea; Vikings, Celts, Danes, Bretons, and others raided without hindrance. Rodger lucidly covers both the tentative British exploration of the sea and the long evolution of seagoing ships, ranging from Viking longboats to the large galleys and caravels of later centuries that combined economy, speed, and maneuverability. Ships were vital to trade, and thus to a nationþs growth. Rodger points out that the sea, once English ships began to patrol it, served as both a defensive barrier and as a highway for trade and exploration. It took a long time, however, for England to effectively make the sea its first line of defense. Many incursions occurred even after the Norman conquest in 1066. Henry V, the first monarch to understand the use of sea power as a primary weapon of war, built a fleet that struck at the heart of French power in Normandy in 1415, finding it more effective than launching an expensive, risky overland campaign. The defeat of the seemingly invincible Spanish Armada in 1588 under Elizabeth I raised Britain to the status of world power. Government-backed piracy against English rivals brought home much revenue, since the sea was regarded as being beyond laws, treaties, and truces. Rodger includes over 250 pages of illustrations, notes, maps, a chronology, exhaustive data onships, a glossary, and a bibliography, creating a kind of pocket reference library about England and the sea in the time period covered. An outstanding reference work, and a considerable scholarly achievement, but not a work recommended for leisurely reading.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393319606
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/1999
  • Pages: 692
  • Sales rank: 888,849
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

N. A. M. Rodger is professor of naval history at Exeter University and a fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of The Wooden World and the highly acclaimed volumes of his naval history of Britain, The Safeguard of the Sea and The Command of the Ocean. He lives in England.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps xiii
Illustrations xiv
Foreword xvii
A Note on Conventions xix
Introduction xxiii
1 The Three Seas: (660-899; Ships 660-1066) 1
2 The First English Empires: (900-1066) 18
3 The Partition of Britain: (1066-1204) 31
4 The Fall of the House of Anjou: (Operations 1204-1266; Administration 1204-1216) 50
5 Ships of War: (Ships 1066-1455) 61
6 The Northern Wars: (Operations 1266-1336) 73
7 Edward III at Sea: (Operations 1336-1360) 91
8 Decline and Fall: (Operations 1360-1410) 109
9 The Chief Support of the Kingdom: (Administration 1216-1420) 117
10 Captains and Admirals: (Social History 1204-1455) 131
11 The End of the Empire: (Operations 1410-1455; Administration 1420-1455) 143
12 Change and Decay: (1456-1509) 153
13 Departed Dreams: (Operations 1509-1523) 164
14 Precarious Isolation: (Operations 1523-1550) 176
15 The Flower of England's Garland: (Operations 1550-1572) 190
16 The Galley and the Galleon: (Ships 1509-1602) 204
17 The Council of the Marine: (Administration 1509-1574) 221
18 The Spanish War: (Operations 1572-1587) 238
19 The Advantage of Time and Place: (Operations 1588) 254
20 The Method of Jason: (Operations 1589-1603) 272
21 The Path to Fame: (Social History: Officers 1509-1603) 297
22 Sailors for my Money: (Social History: Men 1509-1603) 311
23 The Undertakings of a Maiden Queen: (Administration 1574-1603) 327
24 No More Drakes: (Operations 1603-1630) 347
25 The Inward Cause of All Disorders: (Administration 1603-1630) 364
26 A Diamond in his Crown: (Operations and Administration 1630-1639; Ships 1603-1639) 379
27 One and All: (Social History 1603-1639) 395
28 The Fall of Three Kingdoms: (1640-1649) 411
Conclusion 427
Appendix I Chronology 435
Appendix II Ships 473
Appendix III Medieval Fleets 490
Appendix IV Rates of Pay 498
Appendix V Admirals and Officials 504
References 511
Glossary 589
Abbreviations 609
Bibliography 612
Index 663
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