empire of the seas

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BBC – BBC Two Programmes – Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World, Sea Change

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Episode 4: Sea Change

In the last of this four-part series, historian Dan Snow explores the ups and downs of a climactic century in naval and British history.

Dan Snow aboard yacht in Valetta Harbour.

Rapacious and ruthless, the 19th-century Navy used ‘gunboat diplomacy’ to push British interests further afield than ever before. It was control of the sea rather than her land empire that was the key to Britain’s growing wealth.

Technological advances saw Britain and France engage in an arms race over battleships. While Britain’s navy appeared to be winning, the meritocracy fostered in Nelson’s time was slowly being eroded by an entrenched hierarchy which smothered any spark of initiative among its sailors.

When Germany emerged as a new threat, modernising admiral Jackie Fisher was called to reform the Navy. Fisher believed in peace through deterrence and had plans for a huge new battleship – the Dreadnought.

When war finally came, the British and German fleets clashed off Jutland in 1916. But the outcome was not the knock-out blow the British public wanted. Britain emerged from World War I victorious but broke, and no longer able to maintain by far the world’s largest fleet. In time, other nations eclipsed her. It was the end of centuries of naval supremacy.

via BBC – BBC Two Programmes – Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World, Sea Change.

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BBC – BBC Two Programmes – Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World, High Tide

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Episode 3: High Tide

In the third programme in this epic four-part series on how the Navy has shaped modern Britain, Dan Snow sheds light on the evolution of Nelson’s Navy in the late 18th century. It was the most powerful maritime fighting force in the world, with highly trained crews and ambitious officers. He explores the national enterprise which supported it, and explains how the empire it helped create put Britain on the path to war with France.

Through the stories of naval heroes like Captain Cook, naval administrators like Charles Middleton and of course Admiral Nelson, Snow explores the elite training, the growing naval meritocracy and the years of tough experience which created a ruthless and professional ‘Band of Brothers’. He looks at the impact of innovations such as the copper bottoming of the navy’s ships and the introduction of a new tax – income tax – to pay for the fleet.

Pushing back the boundaries of the known world, the navy’s highly trained crews and ambitious officers laid claim to a burgeoning empire, but at a huge price. By 1800, Britain had been dragged into the greatest sequence of wars the nation had ever seen.

via BBC – BBC Two Programmes – Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World, High Tide.

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BBC – BBC Two Programmes – Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World, The Golden Ocean

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Episode 2: The Golden Ocean

Historian and sailor Dan Snow presents the second episode in this four-part series examining the remarkable story of how the country’s greatest institution – her Navy – has shaped her history. In The Golden Ocean, Snow charts the period from 1690 to 1759 and reveals how England – soon to be Britain – and her Navy rose from the depths of military and economic disaster to achieve global supremacy.

In 1690, France ruled the waves and the Royal Navy was in tatters. King William III had taken England into a disastrous war against the most powerful country in Europe. If England was to survive, it needed a new Navy, one capable of carrying the taking the fight to its enemies anywhere in the world.

To achieve this would require a national effort unlike anything that had been seen before. King William III’s determination to achieve mastery of the seas unleashed a chain reaction of revolutions in finance, industry and agriculture which reshaped the landscape and created the country’s first great credit boom. Fifty years before the Industrial Revolution, the Royal Navy became the engine of global change, propelling Britain into the modern world.

It had the desired effect at sea. By 1759, French forces around the world were capitulating to Britain’s superior Navy. For the first time in her history, Britannia really did rule the waves.

via BBC – BBC Two Programmes – Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World, The Golden Ocean.

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The Weekend’s Television: Empire Of The Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World, Fri, BBC2The Legacy of Lawrence of Arabia, Sat, BBC2 – Reviews, TV & Radio – The Independent

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Snow’s history began with ripping yarns of adventure at sea, of surprise attacks and raids by Barbary pirates on the unprotected fishermen of Cornwall (whose indignation at slavery seemed to be considerably sharper when it was they who ended up in fetters in the cargo hold). But it concluded with a kind of paragon of bureaucracy – Samuel Pepys, whose reforms of naval administration helped transform the Navy from a lucrative source of government peculation into something like a fighting force. Pepys never swashed a buckler in his life, but he was, in his way, one of our great naval heroes. Snow himself makes a pretty good presenter here, incidentally – a Boy’s Own type, happy to shimmy up the ratlines for a panoramic long-shot and gaze wonderingly out at the far horizon, as if dreaming of a Eldorado of foreign-territory sales.

via The Weekend’s Television: Empire Of The Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World, Fri, BBC2The Legacy of Lawrence of Arabia, Sat, BBC2 – Reviews, TV & Radio – The Independent.

BBC – BBC Two Programmes – Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World, Heart of Oak

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Episode 1: Heart of Oak

Historian Dan Snow charts the defining role the Royal Navy played in Britain’s struggle for modernity – a grand tale of the twists and turns which thrust the people of the British Isles into an indelible relationship with the sea and ships.

Heart of Oak opens with a dramatic retelling of 16th and 17th-century history. Victory over the Armada proved a turning point in the nation’s story as tiny, impoverished England was transformed into a seafaring nation, one whose future wealth and power lay on the oceans. The ruthless exploits of Elizabethan seafaring heroes like Francis Drake created a potent new sense of national identity that combined patriotism and Protestantism with private profiteering.

At sea and on land, Snow shows how the Navy became an indispensable tool of state, weaving the stories of characters like Drake, God’s Republican warrior at sea Robert Blake, and Samuel Pepys, administrator par excellence, who laid the foundations for Britain’s modern civil service.

With access to the modern Navy and reconstructed ships of the time, Snow recounts the Navy’s metamorphosis from a rabble of West Country freebooters to possibly the most complex industrial enterprise on earth.

via BBC – BBC Two Programmes – Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World, Heart of Oak.

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Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World – Friday 15 January – Programme Details – Radio Times

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Friday 15 January
9:00pm – 10:00pm
BBC2
1/4 – Heart of Oak

Dan Snow loves sailing. And history. So it makes perfect sense for him to chart the history of the British Navy, starting just over 400 years ago when our tiny nation defeated the mighty Spanish Armada and Britannia pretty well ruled the waves. Snow hops from the bridge of a modern battleship to a punt on the River Cam to the crow’s nest on a replica Tudor ship to the deck of a small yacht, passionately describing great sea battles as well as events from the darker chapters of our maritime story. The navy, he says, transformed our sense of national identity, our culture and our democracy. As this four-part series appears to have been so well researched, who would argue? There’s a relentless tide of facts and details: in the mid-17th century, England spent 25 per cent of its national budget on the navy; the heroic Francis Drake was initially a slave trader; diarist Samuel Pepys overhauled the navy’s administration, laying the foundation for our civil service. And – interestingly, although not vital to include in a naval history – Pepys had a penchant for sex orgies.

via Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World – Friday 15 January – Programme Details – Radio Times.

Dan Snow’s New Series About the Navy

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Empire Of The Seas – Heart Of Oak

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Empire Of The Seas – Heart Of Oak Ep 1/4
Friday 15 January
9.00-10.00pm BBC TWO

For centuries, the Royal Navy has strived to help make Britain one of the world’s great maritime superpowers. In Empire Of The Seas, historian and avid sailor Dan Snow goes beyond battle tactics to reveal a surprising naval history. The series reveals an indelible bond between seafarers and the people of Britain and charts how the Navy shaped modern Britain.

In the first part of this landmark series, Dan uncovers the defining role the nascent Navy played in Britain’s emergence onto the world stage. He explores the Navy’s metamorphosis, from a rabble of Tudor West Country freebooters and a few Royal ships, to a recognisably modern institution.

Beginning with a dramatic re-telling of 16th and 17th-century history, Dan looks at how victory over the Armada proved a turning point in Britain’s national story. England was transformed into a seafaring nation whose source of future wealth and power lay on the oceans.

Ships poured out of England. They founded the Colonies and the beginnings of what would become Britain’s future Empire. In 1652, General at Sea Robert Blake produced the Navy’s first ever set of regulations, which offered a blue print for structure and discipline at sea that would later be applied through all areas of government.

By the time of the Restoration, the Navy took up 25 per cent of the national budget and was the country’s largest industrial enterprise – but it was also a chaotic mess. Dan reveals the man who turned it around, Samuel Pepys. His vivid diary reveals a man who was a genius organiser. He overhauled the Restoration Navy, introduced exams, stamped out corruption and ultimately laid the foundations for Britain’s modern civil service.

Despite Pepys’s innovations, the question of how the Navy was funded and controlled continued to create ongoing divisions between the King and Parliament. As trouble loomed on the political front, the Navy’s key role in the Glorious Revolution cemented its place as a central pillar of state.

Empire of the Seas

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Empire Of The Seas
Friday 15 January BBC TWO

“Are we at peace, or at war?” the French sea captain called to his British counterpart. The reply, says historian Dan Snow, was emphatic: “At peace! At peace!” Moments later, the French ships, bound for their colony in Canada, were shattered by a devastating broadside. It was 1755 and this “naked act of aggression” heralded the first truly world war.

The Seven Years War, Dan Snow explains in Empire Of The Seas, his four-part history of the Royal Navy for BBC Two, was nothing less than a battle for global supremacy. The two nations fought wherever their interests clashed and the outcome changed the world for ever, writes Programme Information’s Tony Matthews.

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BBC – Empire Of The Seas

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

For centuries the Royal Navy has strived to help make Britain one of the worlds great maritime superpowers. In Empire Of The Seas, a Timewatch series, historian and avid sailor Dan Snow goes beyond the battle tactics to reveal a surprising history.Travelling across the oceans and with unique access to the modern fleet, Dan examines the impact of the Royal Navy on society, from its role in the foundation of the Bank Of England to the creation of a model for the civil service.The series unearths rarely seen manuscripts and records, and reveals the hidden human stories behind the famous battles. Offering a fresh perspective, Empire Of The Seas tells a fascinating story of how Royal Navy ships on the high seas have inspired the people of Britain.

via BBC – Empire Of The Seas.