"Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves...." The dominance of the British Royal Navy in maritime history is legendary, but this has not always been the case. Various attempts to build and sustain a national standing Navy were attempted by a number of rulers, from Edward the Confessor in the 11th century to Henry V in the 15th century. It wasn't until the Tudor reign (1485 to 1603), however, that a permanent, effective Navy emerged. Until this time the shores of Britain had been susceptible to attack and invasion.
N.A.M. Rodger's compendium on the history of the Royal Navy (the first of a four volume set) reminds us that "the successful navies have been those which rested on long years of steady investment in the infrastructure ... of a seagoing fleet." Emphasizing the important role the Tudors played in building the financial foundation for the Navy, Rodger focuses on the role of Elizabeth I's administration and the amount of money shipbuilding absorbed during her reign. He also traces the evolution of professionalism in the Navy, demonstrating how the rank of naval officer became socially respectable, even though it was not exclusively open to just nobles--indeed, Francis Drake came from an impoverished background--setting a standard that would see the British Navy dominate the oceans for many years.
A fellow in the British National Maritime Museum, Rodger's unique understanding of this history comes across well as he explores a number of themes, ranging from policy and strategy to ship and weapon design. He gathers this information from Anglo-Saxon, Danish, French, Irish, and Spanish sources, carefully weaving these materials into an immense tapestry of incredible depth and scope. In years to come The Safeguard of the Sea promises to be the definitive account of British Naval History long after Britannia has stopped ruling the waves. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 nations 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 on ships, 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. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description