The years 1790 to 1830 saw Britain engage in an extensive period of war-waging and empire-building which transformed its position as an imperial state, established its reputation as a distinctive military power and secured naval preeminence.
Despite this apparent success, Britain did not become a world super power in the conventional sense. Instead, as Professor Collins demonstrates, it operated as an enclave power, influencing or dominating many regions of the world without ever asserting global hegemony. Even in the 1820s, Britain still had to fight to maintain influence, and sometimes struggled to assert dominance on the borderlands of the empire.
By locating naval and military power at the heart of Britain's relationship with the wider world, Bruce Collins offers an insightful reinterpretation of the interaction between military and naval war-making, the expansion of the empire, and the nature of the British regime. Using examples of conflicts ranging from continental Europe and Ireland to North America, Africa and India, he argues that the state’s effectiveness in war was crucial to its imperial expansion and gives new significance to British military conduct in an age of revolution and war.
Table of Contents
Preface and Acknowledgements
Part One: War, empire and British identity
Chapter 1: War and empire: the contested connection
Chapter 2: Britain's militarism
Part Two: The War against Republican France
Chapter 3: Containing France in Europe, 1793-95 Chapter 4: The expanded contest, 1793-97
Chapter 5: The Irish rebellion, 1796-98 Chapter 6: Renewing alliances and positioning for peace, 1798-1801
Part 3: Military imperialism in India
Chapter 7: IndiaMilitary efficiency and Mysore, 1790-92 Chapter 8: Imperial expansionism and Mysore, 1798-99
Chapter 9: Expansionism against the Marathas, 1803-05
Part 4: The War against Napoleon
Chapter 10: The quest for objectives, 1803-08
Chapter 11: The Iberian Peninsular commitment, 1808-13
Chapter 12: Victory in Spain and France, 1813-14
Part 5: Britain's global reach
Chapter 13: The war of 1812
Chapter 14: The Waterloo campaign: lessons learned?
Chapter 15: Completing British paramountcy in India, 1814-19
Part 6 The impact of war
Chapter 16: Instruments of power
Chapter 17: Aristocracy and British military culture
Chapter 18: Interventions overseas, 1820-1830
Chapter 19: Britain as a global power, 1815-30
Bruce Collins is Professor of Modern History at Sheffield Hallam University.
‘This is an admirable survey - comprehensive, clear and readable.’
Brian Holden Reid, Kings College London