This book covers a slightly less familiar period of military history – the War of the Spanish Succession and its immediate successors, in a period when the Royal Navy didn't rule the seas (although as the text makes clear many politicians and commentators appear to have believed it did).
Don't expect any great detail on the actual maritime expeditions of the period. The focus here is very much on the British domestic political scene. That doesn't mean that there is no coverage of the naval expeditions of the period, but it isn't the main purpose of the book.
One reason for this is the relative ineffectiveness of the Royal Navy in this period, at least compared to public expectations. The political debate looked back to the perceived glories of Elizabethan naval warfare, and forward to the perceived benefits to be gained from possible naval expeditions (in particular from the seizure of the Spanish silver convoys from the New World). That also indicates an novel aspect of this period – much writing on British naval warfare in the age of sail covers periods when France was the main enemy, but here Spain features much more heavily.
The key questions asked here are: who was in favour of maritime expeditions; what did they expect to get out of them; how realistic were those expectations; what impact did these agitations have on actual British naval policy; how successful were those expeditions that did take place and what were the limits on those expeditions. We are taken into the heart of a series of political debates, with the players on each side often changing their views as they fell in and out of power. These are key questions, and as a result this is a valuable addition to the literature on naval warfare.
1 - English Expansion into Spanish America and the Development of a Pro-maritime War Argument
Part 1: Pro-maritime War Arguments during the War of the Spanish Succession
2 - The Idea of Economic Advantages of Maritime War in Spanish America
3 - Pro-maritime War Arguments and Party Politics
Part 2: Impact on Reality
4 - Impact on Reality: Naval Policy
5 - Impact on Reality: Legislation
6 - The South Sea Company and its Plan for a Naval Expedition in 1712
Part 3: Pro-Maritime War Arguments After 1714
7 - Pro-maritime War Arguments during the War of the Quadruple Alliance and Anglo-Spanish Conflict of 1726-29
8 - Changes in Naval Policy after 1714: From Conquest to Security of Trade
Author: Shinsuke Satsuma