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

Written by Rachel on 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.

Dan Snow

Presenter Dan Snow stands with the National Maritime Museum/Greenwich Palace behind him.

The Matthew

Aerial of the Matthew (a reconstruction of a Tudor ship) at sea off Ilfracombe in the Bristol Channel.

Dan Snow

Presenter Dan Snow in the Painted Hall of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. It shows the ornate ceiling on which the stern of a 19th Century British warship is painted.


1 Comments so far ↓

  1. jane griffith says:

    I was very pleased to see that there going to be a series on the Royal Navy and I have very much enjoyed it. I very excited that the Battle of the Saints was included as my 3xgt grandfather was aboard the Valiant (having joined as a landman) by a strange quirke of fate we had visited the carribean on a cruise in December 2009 and visit St Lucia where the Valiant was anchored (according to the ships log) at Gros Islet before being signalled to join the fleet. A truly thrilling and nostalgic trip for me. My ancestor evetually moved through the ranks to become a Lieutenant as did his son. I have researched their careers at the national archives and have become very interested in the Royal Navy for the period 1760-1836. So thank for you a brilliant programme.