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By Andrew D. Lambert

From the guy defined via Amanda Foreman as 'one of the main eminent naval historians of our age' comes the tale of the way this country's maritime strength helped Britain achieve unprecedented dominance of the world's financial system. informed throughout the lives of ten of our such a lot outstanding admirals, Andrew Lambert's booklet spans Elizabethan occasions to the second one international conflict, culminating with the spirit which led Andrew Browne Cunningham famously to claim, while the military feared he might lose too many ships, 'it takes 3 years to construct a boat; it takes 3 centuries to construct a tradition'.

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3 The year before Nelson was born, Edmund Burke defined the sublime as anything that, when contemplated, inspired terror – the strongest of human emotions. 4 Kant’s conception offers a compelling explanation of what happened to Pierre de Villeneuve on the morning of 21 October 1805. Transfixed by the steely glare of Nelson’s remaining eye, paralysed by the grandeur, the simplicity and the power of his design, Villeneuve froze – immobilised by the awful majesty of British naval power for the second time in his career.

This was the formation used by the treasure fleets that he administered and his admirals escorted. Their mission was to rendezvous with the Duke of Parma on the Flemish coast, not to win a sea battle or to launch an invasion. The Armada was an amphibious transport convoy, not a battle fleet, and Medina knew better than anyone that the safe and timely arrival of the convoy was the only measure of success. He would ensure the formation was held at any cost, eventually hanging a captain who broke ranks.

Improved sailing rigs and construction methods allowed ships to grow so that they could carry enough guns to be effective. These developments were timely, for the usurpation of 1485 left the Tudor dynasty vulnerable to European-backed claimants to the throne. A navy was needed to assist shore defences. Henry VII built two great ships, and expected rather more of his admirals. His son built a big fleet, and used it for war and diplomacy. They were the founders of the modern naval mission – and of a permanent navy.

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