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The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, Vol 1: 660-1649 Paperback – 7 Oct 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, Vol 1: 660-1649
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  • The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649-1815
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  • The Wooden World: Anatomy of the Georgian Navy
Total price: £49.94
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Product details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140297243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140297249
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 139,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

"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. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

Review

From the reviews of The Wooden World:

‘The fullest, brightest and altogether most readable picture that I know of the Royal Navy that beat the Spanish and French navies in the Seven Years’
War.’
Richard Hough, Daily Telegraph

‘This excellent book, both scholarly and readable, gives us a new approach to the 18th-century British Navy, which helps to explain its historic achievement and illuminates the society of which it was a characteristic and resounding expression throughout the world.’
A. L. Rowse

‘A deeply satisfying book firmly based on new evidence but highly readable; it is enlivened by a multitude of startling and hilarious incidents, recounted with style and wit, and a whole gallery of amazing characters, from ratings to admirals.’
John Kenyon, Observer

-- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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By Tony Watson VINE VOICE on 21 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read Professor Rodger's excellent 'Wooden World' I was expecting much of the same and was not disappointed - this is an impeccably researched and erudite alternative history of England and its French dominions, which puts the naval element into full perspective .
Absolutely chock-full of notes and references, this nontheless flows as well as any historical novel, highlighting the hitherto unseen good and bad points of the various rulers of the day, and the key role that naval support provided, giving a new slant on history and politics. There are more twists and turns to the story than any TV soap could possibly invent.
What comes across loud and clear is the futility of war: the waste of money and resources in the pursuit of expansion is illustrated by the singular lack of success by all parties to make any substantial territorial gains - French, Dutch, Flemish, Scots or Scandinavian.
Imbedded in the politics is a reasoned overview of the development of the ship; from longboat and cog, through galley, hulk and caravel to the rise of the 3-masted ship-rigged vessel which came to dominate naval warfare in the following 200 years. The gradual change from supply and support vessel to an active ingredient of the war machine develops as technology improves, and the viability of funding a navy become more financially and logistically sound.
As one might expect from a work of this scope, the text is rounded off with a conclusion condensing the preceding 1000 years into a précis with the author's informed slant. There are 5 appendices (chronology, ships, fleets, pay & officials), a large reference, glossary, abbreviations and a huge bibliography.
For a complete overview of the mediaeval history of the British Isles, you can't go far wrong with this excellent book. Then read the follow-up - twice as large, covering a third of the time. *****
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Format: Hardcover
Though numerous books have been written about the battles, ships and heroes of the Royal Navy, surprisingly few have been written about the "naval history" of Britain - that is, the role that sea power has played in shaping its history. To rectify this, N.A.M. Rodger has written this book, the first of what is projected to be a three-volume history of Britain's sea power from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day.

Britain's beginnings as a naval power were hardly auspicious. For centuries, most English kings eschewed maintaining a standing naval force, preferring to rely instead on conscripting merchant ships in time of need. That this was possible was due in part to the nature of naval warfare during the Middle Ages, which was largely an extension of land warfare; battles consisted of the crews of opposing ships engaging in hand-to-hand combat, almost always in the shallows or just off the coast. Yet Rodger notes that naval power was invaluable in granting mobility to an attacking force, a fact that was lost on most medieval English kings. Of their ranks, Rodger sees only Richard I and Henry V as understanding the value of sea power, and he credits both the French and the Castilians for superior strategic thinking in naval warfare during this period.

Though Rodger notes that both naval technology and combat tactics began to change in the 15th century, it was the 16th century that saw the emergence of England as a sea power. This he credits to the creation of an administrative structure to support the navy, a development lacking during the medieval period. This provided support for a standing force that could quickly and effectively be mobilized to deal with naval threats, as it was in 1588 to face the Spanish Armada.
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Format: Paperback
As N.A.M. Rodger explains when he sets sail at the beginning of this book, this is much more than a history of the British Navy - it is a complete naval history of Britain; and the author completes the voyage triumphantly.

I was particularly enthralled by the medieval sections, because the book explodes so many myths, in particular the idea that England was a `sceptred isle', safe from foreign invasion after 1066. In fact, 1066 led to a disastrous decline in English sea-power. In the late Anglo-Saxon period the English were faced with a significant threat from the Vikings and they built a navy commensurate to the threat, though they were not always successful in fighting it off. The Norman Conquest, which put an end to the Scandinavian connection, led to a loss of interest in the sea and there ceased to be a `Royal Navy'. We made do instead with a fleet which was requisitioned and ad hoc. In contrast the French had the foresight to build a proper fleet in Rouen.

With the notable exception of Henry V, the medieval English kings had no appreciation of the importance of naval power; and, as a result of their neglect, England was highly vulnerable to invasion. During the first years of the Hundred Years War, the French exploited this to raid and threaten the English coasts on a regular basis. The English were lucky in that, unusually, their armies were superior, and they managed to gain the initiative.

This story is unfamiliar; but Rodger undoubtedly makes his case. Everything he writes is supported by abundant evidence. As one reviewer commented when this book was first published, the vast bibliography tells us all we need to know about the research and learning which has gone into the writing of it. It is a masterpiece in the true sense of the term; and it is likely to remain the leading authority for many years.

Stephen Cooper
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