chapter  14
18 Pages

Naval Ideology and Its Operational Impact in Eighteenth-Century Britain

WithRichard Harding

Throughout the eighteenth century, there was a deeply entrenched ideological commitment to naval power in Britain. Despite engagement in major continental wars and great disappointments in naval affairs, this belief in British naval power remained undimmed. The experience of domestic politics and international diplomacy since the 1640s had provided foundations for an ideological position that proved resistant to deviations, shocks, and dissonance. Over the course of the century, operational successes provided reinforcement for this ideology. It was not unchanging nor unchallenged; nor was it without uncomfortable paradoxes. Nonetheless, its overall coherence gave it a robustness that limited the attraction of any competing ideological position and ensured that enormous resources were made available over the long run to create a naval power that fulfilled the ideological claims made for it.