I specialise in the naval history of Britain and of other countries, from the 6th century to the present day. I am particularly interested in international comparisons between naval powers, and in internal connections between naval history and other approaches to national history.
The Culture of Naval War, c.1860-1945
From the “Military Revolution” to the “Fiscal-Naval State”
The concept of the ‘military revolution’ has had a long and fruitful historical career.1 In its original
form it is usually attributed to the inaugural lecture of Professor Michael Roberts in 1956, though
a key element of it had been anticipated by the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1918.2
The thesis of Roberts and the numerous scholars who followed him – particularly Geoffrey
Parker who significantly modified both the chronology and the outline of the original concept3
– was that raising the larger and better disciplined armies of the Renaissance era, with their
costly artillery trains, and the bastioned fortifications which were evolved to resist them, presented
contemporary princes with a severe test, differing in quality as well as scale from any which had
faced their medieval predecessors. Those early modern states which succeeded in transforming
themselves into autocratic, centralised monarchies, capable of raising these armies and the revenues
to pay for them, passed the test and became the great powers of modern Europe: Sweden
(Roberts’s special subject), France, Prussia, Russia, Austria-Hungary, possibly Spain. Those
which failed to shake off their archaic medieval representative institutions, those which failed
to strengthen the powers of the crown – like the Dutch Republic, Savoy, Poland-Lithuania, the
Papal States, Venice, the Two Sicilies or Portugal – were condemned to extinction, or at best marginal
irrelevance. A great army was the admission ticket to the great powers’ club, and only a
powerful monarchy could hope to be able to pay for it.
The essays in this volume provide a comprehensive overview of Atlantic history from c.1450 to c.1850, offering a wide-ranging and authoritative account of the movement of people, plants, pathogens, products, and cultural practices-to ...
Deutsch-Englisch Flottenrivalität, 1860-1914
Kein Abschnitt der modernen Geschichte war so schrecklich und so folgenreich wie der Erste Weltkrieg. Und es ist kaum überraschend, dass Historiker dazu neigten, die Ereignisse der etwa 30 Jahre vorher hauptsächlich aus einem einzigen ...
War as an Economic Activity in the “Long” Eighteenth-Century
This essay is dedicated to the memory of Ralph Davis, and my purpose in part
is to revive interest in some of the questions which his generation understood
to be important. Though he died thirty years ago and there are relatively few
now alive who knew him, there can be no maritime historian, above all of
Britain in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, who has not encountered
his works with gratitude and admiration.2 His The Rise of the English Shipping
Industry remains the fundamental history of its subject after almost half a century.
3 He was in many respects a scholar of his times. He believed strongly
that economic history deserved and required a broad lay readership, which he
feared might be driven away by the influence of the social sciences. He disliked
econometrics, “a backyard in which economists endlessly count their
own chickens.”4 He came late to academia, his third career if we count his war
service, and like all of his generation he knew war at first hand. For them the
possible links between war and economic success or failure were obvious. He
devoted his last and most extensive research project to the connections between
foreign trade and the Industrial Revolution and was well aware that both the
Industrial Revolution and the Agricultural Revolution which made it possible have to be located against the background of the repeated wars of Britain’s “long” eighteenth century.
Los bloqueos británicos durante las guerras de la Revolución y el Imperio, 1793-1815
Recent Work in British Naval History, 1750-1815
This is a selective survey of books published over the last ten years or so and bearing on
British naval history in the second half of the long eighteenth century.