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

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

by N. A. M. Rodger, Rodger
     
 

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"[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

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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:
744
Sales rank:
548,601
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.64(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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