The changing nature of the Royal Navy

What was the Age of Sail?
A period where naval warfare was dominated by cannon-firing steamships
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What were the aims that drove the technological advancement of the Royal Navy?
Decisively destroy Britain's seafaring rivals; then expand trade, diplomacy and exploration
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What was the Royal Navy in 1763?
Designed to destroy a similar fleet in pitched battles
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What were notable examples of British successes?
The decisive victories against the French at Lagos and Quiberon Bay
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How did naval tactics during the Age of Sail differ from those of the medieval period?
The main objective had been to sail alongside ships so that soldiers could board them
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What were the new naval tactics?
Sailing ships carried rows of cannons; aimed to sink or disable their enemies
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What was broadside?
The simultaneous discharge of guns mounted along on the side of a warship
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What sort of ships were victorious during the Age of Sail?
Those that had bigger guns, could fire their guns faster, could manoeuvre during battle to avoid the enemy's broadside
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What did success in battle depend upon?
Well-constructed ships that combined speed and powerful guns; sailed by well-drilled crews who were proficient at gunnery and sailing
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How did fleets approach the enemy in battle?
In a long line
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What were the advantages of this?
Reduced the exposure of vulnerable bows and sterns to enemy fire
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What is another advantage of this?
Avoided friendly ships firing on each other; none of their broadsides would be facing each other
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What was the final advantage of this?
It improved the speed and effectiveness of signalling by flags between the admiral's ship and the rest of the fleet
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What was true of this?
Battles were often indecisive if neither fleet could gain a positional advantage
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What were British captains and admirals trained to adopt?
Hyper-aggressive tactics
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What was an example of where this was successful?
The 1805 Battle of Trafalgar
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What was the main ship involved in pitched battles?
The ship of the line
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What was the ship of the line?
A ship that was strong enough to take its place in the line of battle
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How would strength be defined?
Speed or firepower
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What was used in the Royal Navy to rate ships?
Categories such as first, second, third or fourth rate
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What were first rate ships like?
Multiple gun decks and 80-120 cannons; however these were less manoeuvrable
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What was the backbone of the fleet?
The third rate ships with between 64 and 80 cannons on two gun decks
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What proportion of ships of the line did these make up?
76% of all ships of the line in 1794 and 80% in 1814
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What was the most common design?
Stolen from the French design
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What happened between 1763 and 1805?
The Royal Navy steadily outpaced its rivals
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What was a notable setback?
The American War of Independence
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What was Britain's greatest naval success?
The 1805 Battle of Trafalgar
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What happened at the Battle of Trafalgar?
The British decisively beat a Franco-Spanish fleet
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What were the issues with British ships?
The extra firepower and gun decks were achieved by sacrificing manoeuvrability as well as speed
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What issues did this create?
Made them dangerous to sail near the shore; were often unable to catch more lightly armed warships
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What were frigates?
Fifth and six rate ships known as frigates
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Why were frigates good?
They were smaller and more maneouvrable, and were able to sail closer to the shore
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What role did frigates serve?
Searched out enemy shipping
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Why were young captains attracted to frigates?
There were fortunes to be made in prize money for a successful frigate
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What did Captain Cochrane achieve on the frigate Speedy?
He captured or destroyed a total of 53 French ships over a period of 13 months
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What was also true?
Despite the superiority of British shipping, other nations used frigates against British shipping
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Between 1777 and 1790, how many frigates did the French build?
The French built 59 fast frigates
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How did the Royal Navy finish the Napoleonic Wars?
In 1815 with 214 ships of the line and 792 frigates
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How many operational ships of the line did the British have in 1835?
The British had 58 operational ships of the line
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What maintained British naval supremacy at this time?
The British Navy retained the ability to rebuild quickly and was able to retain supremacy over the world's oceans
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Why else was Britain able to maintain hegemony?
Royal Navy had more advanced ships and was able to produce them more quickly than any other naval power
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What culture did this lead to?
The Admiralty did not want to develop ships that would upset this beneficial position
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What major issue did this lead to?
Many naval innovations were first developed by rival powers; were quickly adopted by rival powers to prevent their fleet becoming obsolete
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What was the Kent in 1794?
An experimental steamship
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Where were steamships initially used?
Areas where sailing ships did not have room to navigate using wind
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What did this mean was the first success of the Age of Steam?
Opened previously inaccessible inland areas to naval forces
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What was it not used to do?
Disrupt the established order of frigates and sailing order of the line
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What major invention affected the Age of Steam?
The invention of a more powerful propeller screw propulsion in the late 1830s
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Why was steam strategically advantageous to the British?
Steam engines could be used in battle for greater maneuverability; allowed movement in any direction without reliance on the wind
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When were the first British and French steam-propelled frigates launched?
They were launched by Britain in 1843 and France in 1845
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What did the French realise?
The potential of steam-powered battleships more quickly than the British
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What did they launch?
The 90-gun Napoleon in 1850; capable of reaching 14 knots (26 km/hour)
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What did this signal for the British?
The end of 35 years of low cost naval supremacy for the British
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What did this represent the beginning of?
A naval arms race that would exist between the major powers until the outbreak of the First World War
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What did France do during the 1850s?
Poured money into equipping their fleets with steam in the 1850s; built ten new steamships and converted 28
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What did Britain do during the 1850s?
Built 18 new battleships and converted 41
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What was other evidence of new technology?
The Napoleonic Wars had been won at sea by ships with cannon firing round shot
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Why were these used?
These weapons had high trajectories and were used for bombarding towns and fortifications
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How did the British respond when the French began to fit their warships with these guns?
The Royal Navy quickly began to do the same
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What was true about these guns?
They could easily destroy wooden ships; there was concern about the damage these would do in warfare
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How did the British attempt to counter these new weapons?
Iron plates were fitted as armour to new ships
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What was the first ironclad ship?
La Gloire in 1859
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What did the British bring along in 1861?
HMS Warrior in 1861
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What demonstrated the power of ironclads against conventional wooden ships?
Their use in the American Civil War
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What followed?
All major navies abandoned the production of unarmoured wooden warships
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What had happened by the late 19th century?
These ships became obsolete as steam engines, armour plating and naval guns
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What did battleships become as a result?
Bigger, heavier and more reliant on their engines
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What was significant about HMS Devastation?
Sails were abandoned with the ship
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What were the specifications of this ship?
It was 87 metres long; was armed with two 35 ton guns; protected by hull armour 250-300 mm thick
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Why did the rise of steamships make supply ports vital?
They carried tonnes of coal, as such could not undertake lengthy sea voyages
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What did this mean?
Without friendly deep-water ports at which to stock up on coal, it would not be possible for the ships to undertake lengthy sea voyages
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What did the end of the Age of Sail eliminate?
The main advantage the Royal Navy had - the superior seamanship of the Navy's sailors
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What was becoming increasingly true?
The technical superiority of the ship was far more important than the skill of the crew
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From the 1870s onwards, what would determine naval strength?
The size and quality of the ships produced, not the number of seamen
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What did this development allow?
Nations with a limited maritime power but an advanced industrialised economy
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What did Britain have to work hard to maintain?
The two power standard and naval supremacy
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Hold on a second, what the hell is the two power standard?
The Royal Navy should be as strong as the next two navies combined
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What did the Admiralty argue?
By rapidly expanding the Navy and ensuring a commitment to maintaining naval supremacy was maintained in law, Britain's navy would be so unassailable other powers would be deterred from naval expenditure
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What did Britain commit to in the Naval Defence Act 1889?
Ten battleships, 42 cruisers and 18 torpedo gunships by 1893-94
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At what cost?
£21.5 million
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What did Britain believe?
This would save money in the future by expanding the fleet now
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Why were they wrong?
France and Russia increased their joint production to 12 battleships, 2 more than Britain
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Who else did this?
Germany and the USA
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Who was John Fisher?
Become Lord of the Admiralty in 1904
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What did he do?
Introduced a modernisation programme
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What did he do strategically?
He immediately scrapped 154 older warships; restructured Britain's fleets around the world so that the largest and most modern ships were centered in Europe
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What was his intention?
End the arms race by producing warships that were so technologically advanced no other navy could challenge them
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What was HMS Dreadnought?
A ship so advanced it made all other battleships obsolete
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How did the other powers react?
Powers like Germany, the USA and Japan started to produce their own dreadnoughts
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What was the status of the Royal Navy as the world approached the First World War?
The Royal Navy was still by far the most powerful military force in the world, but it did not enjoy the same global dominance as it had in 1815
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Why did the Navy have an association with trade in the 18th century?
Founded upon the Navy's continual need for sailors
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What was life like for the average sailor in the Royal Navy?
Notoriously tough; cramped living conditions and harsh discipline
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What was pay like?
The same as being a servant and a landowner's home
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What did all of this mean?
No-one wanted to join the Navy
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What did this lead to?
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What was impressment?
Forcible recruitment into the Navy; press gangs roamed British ports offering gold, getting sailors drunk or simply kidnapping them
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Where did the majority of impressments occur?
At sea where the navy had the power to pull over civilian ships
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Why was a large merchant navy encouraged?
The burden of impressment was felt less if the navy drew its manpower from civilian ships
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What was the blue water policy?
Navy protected the seas for the merchantmen, as well as capturing foreign merchants during wars
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What did this mean?
The seas were safe for British merchants and dangerous for other nations' merchants
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How many merchant ships did the Royal Navy capture in the Seven Years' War?
1,165 French merchant ships
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What did this do?
Significantly impacted French merchant shipping while helping British merchant shipping
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What was then expected of merchant shipping?
It was expected to provide thousands of men to the Navy
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What else helped the Navy?
Trade profits to the Exchequer increased; indirectly funding the Navy
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How did government policy aid this?
The Navigation Acts of the 1660s, which mandated that trade between Britain and its colonies must be carried on British ships
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How did the Royal Navy aid Britain's commercial interests?
Suppressing slavery, forcing unfriendly powers to trade, maintaining a network of naval supply bases
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What was the slave trade by the late 18th century?
The slave trade was the biggest and most lucrative trade route for British shipping
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How many ships left British ports annually on the long triangular voyage between Europe, West Africa and the West Indies?
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What was the relationship between slavery and the British government?
The slave economies of the West Indies were an important source of income; the Exchquer needed income to finance wars with France
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Why did Britain need money to finance wars with France?
Fleets were dispatched to the West Indies as France and Britain vied for dominance in the region
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What was the cost of this?
Britain lost thousands of men to combat and disease
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What had supporters of slavery argued about the slave trade?
The slave trade was the "nursery" of the Royal Navy
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Due to the large numbers of sailors recruited to the Royal Navy from sailing ships
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What made this argument less persuasive?
Britain was losing thousands of men defending West Indian slave economies
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Of men leaving Britain on slaving voyages in 1785, how many returned?
Of the 5,000 men; only 2,329
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What began to be undermined?
The perception that the Royal Navy and the slave trade were mutually dependant
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What had the Royal Navy become following 1807?
The enemies of the slavers
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What was the position of the Royal Navy immediately following abolition?
Few resources could be spared to enforce the new legislation
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What was created in 1808?
A new squadron to stop the transatlantic slave trade
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What was done?
Two ships were used to patrol 5,000km of West African coastline
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What also suggests that the Admiralty did not view the suppression of slavery as being a priority?
In 1821 there were six ships in the squadron, by 1831 this had only risen to seven
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What, counterintuitively, actually happened?
The number of slaves being shipped across the Atlantic increased from 80,000 in 1800 to 135,000 in 1830
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Why was the West Africa squadron not a desirable posting?
Long periods at sea, no welcoming cities, mosquitoes, disease and constant equatorial heat
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What changed after the Napoleonic Wars?
During the Napoleonic Wars, Royal Navy ships could board and seize enemy ships at will; once there was peace in Europe, engagements were strictly regulated
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What did the change mean?
Slave ships could operate with impunity by carrying papers and flying the flag of nations that Royal Navy ships were not entitled to seize
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What was evidence that these challenges were overcome over time?
Squadron grew to 32 warships in 1847
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What did successive foreign secretaries achieve?
Used Britain's strong diplomatic position to create a series of treaties which allowed the Royal Navy to board and seize slaving ships
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What restrictions still applied?
The navy could only act if slaves were being carried
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What was an example of what this led to?
Spanish slavers Regulo and Rapido threw 150 chained slaves overboard in 1831 while being chased by the Royal Navy
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What did abolitionist foreign secretary Lord Palmerston allow?
Royal Navy was allowed to act with impunity against ships from weaker countries like Portugal and Brazil, but regulations had to be followed with American and French ships
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What did the Navy begin to use in the 1840s?
Paddle steamers which could follow slaving ships down inaccessible waterways
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What did the paddle steamer HMS Hydra achieve?
Captured four slave ships between 1844 and 1846
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What did slavers begin to receive?
Small clipper ships, with large sails designed for speed
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What were clippers deliberately designed to do?
Break British blockades and outrun British ships of the line
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What was the effect of this?
Put the West African squadron at a disadvantage until some were captured
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What was a notable example of one of these?
The famous Black Joke, which captured 11 slavers in a single year
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Between 1810 and 1860, how many slaves did the Royal Navy free?
Captured and freed about 150,000 slaves
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What must be remembered, however?
The Navy was not successful in stopping the slave trade; the freed slaves only represented about 10% of the slaves shipped to North America in this period
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What ended the slave trade?
The abolition of slavery in the Americas, effectively eliminating the market for slaves
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Where was slavery still active?
Africa's East Coast
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What was the Royal Navy able to do in East Africa, however?
Apply pressure on the sultan of Zanzibar to end his lucrative slave market
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In the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, what could be said about the decline of slavery?
The reduction in demand for slaves was more important in achieving abolition than efforts to target the trade at sea
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What was the most significant source of income for Britain?
The trade route linking China, the East Indies, India and England
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What created problems in the Indian Ocean?
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During the Napoleonic Wars, what damaged British shipping?
French privateers based at Isle de France attacked shipping
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How many ships did Robert Surcouf capture in his profitable career?
He captured over 40 prizes, including 16 in a single 1807-1808 expedition
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When was Isle de France captured?
1810; the island was renamed Mauritius and became a naval base
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What was the threat from Arab pirates?
They continued to threaten shipping from the Red Sea to Bombay
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When were the earliest treaties with the Imam of Mocha and the Sultan of Aden?
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What happened in 1820?
Mocha was bombarded until the Imam accepted a commercial treaty
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What happened to Berbera between 1827 and 1832?
It was blockaded until compensation was obtained for an attack on British shipping
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What was true about the Strait of Malacca?
It was a hotbed of piracy; a large fleet of up to 100 pirate ships operated in this area
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What were these ships able to do?
Capture even large European merchantmen
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What made suppression of piracy in this area become an increasing priority for Britain?
Growing opium sales in China
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What did the EIC agree with the Dutch in 1824?
To divide the area and introduce naval patrols
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What helped to reduce piracy levels but could not remove them completely?
The introduction of a naval squadron based at Singapore
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What had operated out of the Barbary States of Tunis and Tripoli since the 16th century?
Pirates and slavers
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What was true about these forces?
They were well armed and organised enough to capture European shipping as well as undertaking coastal raids
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How many Europeans are estimated to have been captured between the 16th and 19th centuries?
1-1.25 million
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What happened to these prisoners?
They were enslaved or ransomed, the Beys (leaders of the Barbary states) got rich off a 10% share
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Why didn't the Beys attack British shipping?
The Royal Navy was strong enough to intimidate the Beys into leaving British shipping alone
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What had the Royal Navy done to Tripoli in 1675 and Algiers in 1682?
Royal Navy fleets secured treaties after bombarding these cities
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What did France do to Algiers and Tripoli in the 1680s?
Bombarded it three times to secure French shipping
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Who were still vulnerable?
Less powerful states without large fleets
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What was evidence of this?
The American government paid $1 million in ransom to the Barbary states in 1795
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Why had Britain formerly been reliant on the Barbary states?
It sourced supplies from the Barbary states during the wars with France, by 1815 it was the dominant force in the Mediterranean and able to resupply from a peaceful Europe
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What did Admiral Pellew secure?
Treaties with the Beys of Tunis, Tripoli and Algiers
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What happened to sour the relationship?
200 captured Corsicans, Sardinians and Sicilians were massacred on the Algerian island of Bona
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What did Exmouth do in the same year?
Returned with a larger fleet and bombarded Algiers, firing over 50,000 cannonballs and sinking over 40 vessels
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How did the Bey of Algiers respond?
Capitulated; paying £80,000 in ransom money and freeing 3,000 slaves
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When was piracy eliminated?
1830, when France conquered Algiers
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What made this a significant moment in world affairs?
It showed that Britain was willing to use the might of the Royal Navy to protect foreigners under British protection
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What did the term Pax Britannica mean?
A Latin term for "British peace"
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What was this?
The period 1814 to 1914 where there was reasonable stability in Europe
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What could the Seven Years' War be described as?
The world's first truly global conflict
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Why did this affect British shipping?
The reliance on ships of the line became problematic in such a long distance conflict
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What made these ships ill suited to unknown coastal waters?
The deep keels and long sides of the ships
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What was the Scilly Naval Disaster of 1707?
Four warships and 1,550 men were lost due to a navigation error
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What did this prove to the British?
The importance of good naval charts and good organisational skills
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Between 1803 and 1815, what proportion of ships lost ran aground rather than being hit by enemy gunfire?
223 of the 317 ships of the Royal Navy
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What did the Admiralty give high priority to?
Expeditions that focused on mapping and exploration
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What was the Admiralty receptive to in 1768?
A proposal by the Royal Society for an expedition to the Pacific
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What was the Admiralty interested in?
Laying claim to new lands; Royal Society was interested in the transit of Venus to measure the distance between the earth and the sun
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What was Captain James Cook successful in?
Circumnavigating the globe between the years 1768 and 1771
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What was the importance of Cook's voyage?
If cleanliness and fresh food were maintained, an expedition could remain at sea for three years and not lose an unacceptable number of men
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What did it prove about cartography?
Cook, using a duplicate of Harrison's watch, was able to produce charts of the Pacific Ocean that remained in use until the 20th century
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Which new lands did Britain lay claim to as a result of Cook's voyage?
Laid claim to new British lands in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific
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What was Cook's legacy across the empire?
Journeys of exploration became more common, Royal Navy captains were often required to map uncharted waters
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What did the Admiralty establish in 1795 that showed the growing importance of exploration?
The Hydrographic Office, which aimed to collate reliable charts
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What did the Hydrographic Office particularly focus on?
Unfamiliar waters where the Royal Navy was beginning to operate
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What was the British Navy's main focus from 1763 to 1815?
The destruction of France and its allies
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What did the British do during the wars with France?
Seized remote and unimportant ports around the world
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What did these become after the defeat of France?
The Navy seized the most important ones as bases to act against French aggression
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What was also true following 1815?
The Navy reduced in size and naval expenditure fell
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During this period, what characterised the government's approach to empire?
Promotion of free trade and limited intervention characterised the government's approach to the empire
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What became the Navy's main role in the absence of European rivals?
Ensuring that the world's sea lanes were secure for British merchant shipping
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What meant that the supremacy of the Navy was no longer guaranteed?
The growth of European powers and technological advances
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What did politicians and colonial officials link to Britain's dominant position in world affairs?
The control of key territories and a large navy
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What had formerly been Britain's key motivations for acquiring new territories?
Cost and profit
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What replaced them?
Extending British naval power across the globe; obtaining strategic advantages against Britain's rivals
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Why was control of Gibraltar vital?
The Anglo-French power struggle was its height; port was a point where British ships could enter the Mediterranean; separated French Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines
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What did the last point mean for Britain?
Britain created a major obstacle for France in moving their warships between their main ports
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What was the other port that aided with these objectives?
Minorca; which helped British ships in blockading the port of Toulon
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How did Britain end up in possession of Gibraltar?
Captured in 1704 from Spain during the War of Spanish Succession
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How had Britain ended up in possession of Minorca?
Claimed this in 1708 during the same war
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When did Spain formally cede these territories?
1713; to secure Britain's withdrawal from the war
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What was the issue?
The territories were precariously held; France held Minorca during the Seven Years' War; Spain had tried to recapture Minorca for a period during the Seven Years' War
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What can be used to demonstrate the importance with which Britain viewed Gibraltar and Minorca?
The execution of Admiral Byng in 1757 when he decided not to attack the French fleet at Minorca
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What remained a key priority for the French and the Spanish?
Recovering territory from Britain
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What provided an ideal opportunity?
The American War of Independence
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Why was the Royal Navy in a bad position?
Funding for the Royal Navy had been progressively cut; many of its ships of the line were rotting and poorly built
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What was true in 1778?
It was rapidly rebuilding, yet its forces were spread around the world
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How did the French fleet manage to get through the Strait of Gibraltar?
Slipped through before war was declared
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Why did this fatally undermine the British position in North America?
Having a fleet at Brest and supported by a growing number of American privateers; the French could now meet British naval strength in the Atlantic
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What deteriorated Britain's position even further?
France secured Spain's entry into the war in return for supporting the Spanish reconquest of Minorca and Gibraltar under the Treaty of Aranjuez in 1779
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How many ships of the line did France and Spain have in 1779 compared to the Royal Navy?
F & S: 121 ships of the line; RN: 90
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What did the Dutch joining the coalition mean?
They now had 137 ships to Britain's 94; Britain was outgunned around the world, including the English Channel
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What seemed inevitable?
Britain would lose control of Minorca and Gibraltar, shutting the Navy out of the Mediterranean
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What happened to Gibraltar in 1779?
Blockaded by sea and surrounded by land in 1779, leading to a food shortage among the garrison
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How did Britain view supplying Gibraltar?
They viewed it as a priority, sending supply ships supported by warships in 1780, 1781 and 1782
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Why were the blockading Spanish fleet unable to prevent its resupply?
The poor sailing of its inexperienced crews and adverse winds blowing them out of position
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Why did General Murray surrender his garrison in February 1782?
The British garrison barricaded itself within the fortress of St Philip's Castle as soon as the Franco-Spanish fleet landed; lack of fresh food led to scurvy
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In Gibraltar, why were the British able to hold out?
There were enough gardens behind British lines to prevent fatalities from scurvy; although the disease broke out multiple times
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What did the French and Spanish do?
Mounted a major assault on Gibraltar; with over 5,000 men on "floating batteries" supported by 18 ships of the line
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How long was the garrison able to hold out for?
Until the end of 1783
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What does this show?
The importance of such a strategically placed port for the Royal Navy
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What was the importance of Gibraltar between 1792 and 1815?
Provided a vital staging post for British fleets in the Mediterranean, for example by resupplying Nelson's fleet before Trafalgar
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Who did Ceylon originally belong to?
The Dutch
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How did they acquire it?
After multiple wars with the Portuguese, the French and the Kingdom of Kandy
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Why was Ceylon so important?
With its trading ports of Trincomalee and Colombo, it was one of the only sources of cinnamon in the world
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What had the British East India Company been doing?
Trying to cultivate it in India from 1767, but Ceylon remained the main producer until the end of the 18th century
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What happened in 1794?
The Dutch royal family were pressured into ordering Dutch colonies to surrender to British forces for "protection"
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What happened next?
A ship of the line, HMS Suffolk, was dispatched with a frigate to capture Ceylon
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What had happened in the Netherlands which left the Dutch governor in a difficult position?
The French set up a puppet government in the Netherlands
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What happened next?
The Dutch settlements surrendered and a British governor was installed; commercial aspects of the colony were left to the British East India Company
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What did the capture of Ceylon yield?
Around £300,000 of money in goods, as well as the acquisition of the cinnamon plantations, making this a profitable venture
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What demonstrated the importance of Ceylon to the British?
It was retained in the 1802 Treaty of Amiens, unlike other Dutch colonies
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What did the Kingdom of Kandy hope for?
The British would cede some of the coastline to them to conduct overseas trade, didn't happen, warfare broke out
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What did the British think?
British gov't had no appetite for a war in a distant colony, instructed its governors to make peace with Kandy without conceding any territory.
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What did Britain instruct its governors to do?
Make peace with Kandy without conceding any coastal territory
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Who was Governor Brownrigg?
An ex-soldier with "imperial ambitions"; supported a group of nobles against the king in 1815
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What did Brownrigg impose?
The Kandyan Convention
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What did this do?
Kandy became a self-governing protectorate required to pay a tribute to the British coastal colony
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What happened in 1817-18?
There was a rebellion against this arrangement; brutally suppressed by Brownrigg who authorised the seizure of land and burning of villages
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What followed this?
The whole of Ceylon was annexed as a British crown colony; with successive governors concentrating on establishing a road and rail network
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What was the economic significance of the Dutch colony of Cape Town?
None, except it was a stopping point between Europe and the East Indies
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Why was this position strategically valuable?
A naval fleet could prevent enemy shipping from sailing between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, a major trade route
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What had the British attempted to do during the American War of Independence?
In 1781 sought to take the colony, but were prevented from doing so by the French who had fortified it
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Why did the British then take this colony in 1795?
The Royal Navy were in the ascendancy, so seized strategic colonies that these nations couldn't hold
249 of 304
What exactly happened in Cape Town?
Soon after France had conquered the Netherlands, a British fleet under Sir George Elphinstone demanded the colony surrender itself for "safekeeping"
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When was Cape Town returned to the Dutch?
Peace of Amiens 1802, when it was returned to the Dutch
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Why did Britain re-take Cape Town?
To prevent French troops landing there
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Why did the British intervene in Malta?
Had been taken by Napoleon in 1798, rebelled against the French and asked the British for help
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What was significant about Malta?
The British did not initially regard the island as being strategically significant
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What did Britain agree to do in 1802?
Leave Malta until war recommenced in 1803
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By 1815, what meant that Malta was sufficiently useful to be retained?
Its deep water port and welcoming local population meant that it was sufficiently important to be retained
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What meant that Malta became a major naval base?
The opening of the Suez Canal, which placed it on Britain's main seaway to India
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What were the Falkland Islands used for from 1766 until 1828?
They were used by South Atlantic sealing ships
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What happened in 1828?
The ex-Spanish colonies of Latin America (the United Provinces) authorised a European merchant named Luis Vernet to found a colony there in 1828
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Why was Vernet's colony not a success?
The only valuable resource on the island was its sealing colonies, these were rapidly being depleted by British and American sealers
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What did Vernet do that Britain viewed as a threat?
Confiscated three American sealing ships in 1831, taking their captains for trial in Buenos Aires
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How did Britain reassert its dominance over the Falklands?
Sent a single ship to reassert British sovereignty
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Why had Aden been significant before now?
It had been an important trading entrepot during the Middle Ages, bringing spices from India to the markets of Egypt and Arabia
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When did British interests in Aden begin?
1798, with Napoleon's invasion of Egypt, a British fleet docked for several months
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Why did a small number of government ministers think that a British base in the area was necessary?
To prevent a French advance through Egypt or a Russian expansion through Persia
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What did Sir Robert Graves think?
India could only be protected by seizing "places of strength" to protect the Indian Ocean
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What led to Aden's growing relevance?
A steamship route to Suez would help to secure British interests in the region
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What did the government agree to do?
Pay half the costs for six voyages per year and the EIC board approved the purchase of two steamers in 1837
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What did the EIC begin to do in 1829?
Search the Arabian coast for a coaling station
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Yet what did Lord Auckland say?
Any East India Company involvement should be peaceful and negotiated with local rulers
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What did Stafford Haines suggest to Grant?
Aden should be occupied on the basis that the sultan was little better than a pirate
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What did the sultan's forces do?
Plundered the merchantman Duria Dowlat after it ran aground
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What arguably led to this decision?
A sense of racial and cultural superiority; yet also a desire to make examples of those who challenged British dominance
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Which probably bears greater urgency?
The latter, as there were many rival powers growing at this time
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What did Haines' mandate say?
Secure satisfaction for the Duria Dowlat and to negotiate the use of a coal depot
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What did he demand in negotiations with the sultan?
Full British occupation of the port
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What did Haines use to claim that a treaty had been agreed?
A letter from the sultan of dubious merit
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What was the reaction to Grant's proposals?
Lord Auckland was reluctant to fight a war for a port with no commercial significance, Grant's arguments were more persuasive in London
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What did Farish (Grant's deputy) do in 1838?
Sent two frigates and 700 men to Aden
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What was significant about this?
He did this without the approval of the government in London; but did have support from Hobhouse in private letters
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What were the EIC forced to do?
Presented with a fait accompli, had to accept their new territory
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What was Haines left with?
A remote port which was valued neither by the government nor by the EIC
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What did Aden not become?
A major crossroads of trade routes
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What did Haines do?
Ran up a deficit of £28,000 before being recalled to Bombay and tried for fraud and embezzlement in 1854
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What ultimately made Aden a boom town?
The opening of the Suez Canal
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What was significant about the seizure of Aden?
Its seizure was the logical extension of the new imperial thought
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What was this?
A new way of thinking, whereby the seizure of territory was justified in order to protect existing territory rather than to seek additional profit
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By the 1870s, what had become mainstream in the Conservative Party?
Palmerston's view of imperialism: which asserted British interests and values
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Who characterised this new imperial thought?
Prime Ministers like Disraeli and Lord Salisbury, who supported both increased naval expansion and territorial expansion
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Why was Russia considered the primary threat to Britain?
It was out of reach of the Royal Navy and expanding rapidly into Central Asia with the conquest of Tashkent (1865), Bukhara (1868)
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What was the Liberal Party under Gladstone committed to?
Less government expenditure and limited overseas intervention
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How did Disraeli extend Britain's interests overseas?
Purchased shares in the Suez Canal in 1875, which was widely popular with the public
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How did Disraeli aim to limit Russian expansion?
Support powers bordering Russia, including Afghanistan in the east and the bankrupt Ottoman Empire in the west
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Why was Turkish defeat in the Russo-Turkish War dangerous to British interests?
It would give Russia open access to the Mediterranean, as well as the ability to close the Black Sea to British shipping
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What did Disraeli persuade Parliament to do?
Approve £6 million for the navy and army for war
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What happened in 1878?
The Ottomans surrendered to the Russians, signing a peace treaty which ceded the Balkans to Russia
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Why did Disraeli secure Cyprus?
So that Britain could monitor Russian expansion in the Mediterranean
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What else did the island provide?
Another link in the chain of British ports on the route to India and a base from which the British could intervene in Egypt if necessary to protect the Suez
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What was technically the legal position of Cyprus?
Leased to Britain by the Ottomans; yet in reality Britain held control
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What did the acquisition of Cyprus represent?
A change in Britain's imperial policy from liberal economics to acquiring colonies simply to constrain the territorial ambitions of other powers
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What did Disraeli follow this with?
The annexation of the Transvaal in 1877; the invasion of Afghanistan in 1878 and the conquest of Zululand in 1879
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What left Gladstone (Disraeli's successor) vulnerable to criticism?
At a time when most European powers were seeking to expand, Disraeli scaled back British intervention
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What did Lord Salisbury do?
Expanded British territorial influence, most notably in Africa
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What had occurred by 1889?
Huge spending increases on the Royal Navy had become common as the Conservative Party capitalised on the popularity of expansionist imperial policy
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Card 2


What were the aims that drove the technological advancement of the Royal Navy?


Decisively destroy Britain's seafaring rivals; then expand trade, diplomacy and exploration

Card 3


What was the Royal Navy in 1763?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What were notable examples of British successes?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


How did naval tactics during the Age of Sail differ from those of the medieval period?


Preview of the front of card 5
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