Recent challenges to US maritime predominance suggests a return to great power competition at sea, and this new volume looks at how navies in previous eras of multipolarity grappled with similar challenges.

The book follows the theme of multipolarity by analysing a wide range of historical and geographical case studies, thereby maintaining the focus of both its historical analysis and its policy implications. It begins by looking at the evolution of French naval policy from Louis XIV through to the end of the nineteenth century. It then examines how the British responded to multipolar threat environments, convoys, the challenges of demobilization, and the persistence of British naval power in the interwar period. There are also contributions regarding Japan’s turn away from the sea, the Italian navy, and multipolarity in the Arctic. This volume also addresses the regional and global distribution of forces; trade and communication protection; arms races; the emergence of naval challengers; fleet design; logistics; technology; civil-naval relations; and grand strategy, past, present, and future.

This book will be of much interest to students of naval history, strategic studies and international relations history, as well as senior naval officers.

chapter |8 pages


chapter 1|14 pages

French sea power in the Utrecht era

“Balance of power” and the strategic context of Louis XIV’s navy

chapter 2|24 pages

“A brilliant second”

France as a naval great power 1

chapter 4|20 pages

The limits of naval power

Britain after 1815

chapter 5|19 pages

David Lloyd George and the contest for naval mastery

The American challenge

chapter 7|25 pages

A rising power facing multipolarity

Italian naval policy and strategy in the age of fascism

chapter 8|19 pages

Managed decline in an age of multipolarity

The case of the Royal Navy in the interwar period

chapter 10|16 pages

Danish naval evolution in the Arctic

Developments through the unipolar moment

chapter 12|19 pages

China in a multipolar world

chapter |13 pages


Reflections on the Great War at sea