1st Edition

Navies in Multipolar Worlds From the Age of Sail to the Present

Edited By Paul Kennedy, Evan Wilson Copyright 2021
    278 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    278 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.


    Paul Kennedy


    Evan Wilson

    1. French Sea Power in the Utrecht Era: "Balance of Power" and the Strategic Context of Louis XIV’s Navy

    Alan James

    2. "A Brilliant Second": French Hybridization as a Great Power

    Brian C. Chao

    3. British North Atlantic Convoys, 1812–14, and the Subsequent Rejection of the Convoy System

    Roger Knight

    4. The Limits of Naval Power: Britain after 1815

    Evan Wilson

    5. David Lloyd George and the Contest for Naval Mastery: The American Challenge

    John H. Maurer

    6. Japan’s Transition from a Maritime to a Continental Security Paradigm, 1928–1941

    S.C.M. Paine

    7. A Rising Power Facing Multipolarity: Italian Naval Policy and Strategy in the Age of Fascism

    Fabio De Ninno

    8. Managed Decline in an Age of Multipolarity: The Case of the Royal Navy in the Interwar Period

    G.H. Bennett

    9. The Shifts in Global Naval Power, 1936–1946

    Paul Kennedy

    10. Danish Naval Evolution in the Arctic: Developments through the Unipolar Moment

    Timothy Choi

    11. Multipolarity, Navies, and the Post-Cold War World

    Geoffrey Till

    12. China in a Multipolar World

    Hu Bo

    Afterword: Reflections on the Great War at Sea

    John H. Maurer


    Paul Kennedy is J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History at Yale University, USA.

    Evan Wilson is an Assistant Professor in the John B. Hattendorf Center for Maritime Historical Research at the US Naval War College.

    “Multipolar Worlds is an important correction to the fallacy that either multipolarity or complexity are new elements in maritime strategy. At a time when the world’s navies are struggling to understand the strategic and technological challenges they face, these essays provide insights into the historical and contemporary role of seapower that will be of value to decision makers at many levels.”-- RADM (ret.) James Goldrick, RAN