By the middle years of the nineteenth century, there seem to have been few places on the globe where British and French commercial, colonial, or religious interests could not clash; and thanks to the extent and flexibility of their sea power the two rivals were able to support these interests with naval force virtually wherever there was enough water to float a warship. The Crimean War brought the British and French navies, the most technologically advanced in the
world, into alliance after many years of common hostility. It was a period of enormous technological innovation and development, witnessing the transition from sail to screw, and the birth of the
ironclad.In this extensively researched and thorough study, C. I. Hamilton traces the technological development of both British and French navies and analyses the political and diplomatic policies which formed the backdrop to the naval history of the period 1840-1870. Dr Hamilton compares the two navies in a variety of important ways: their recruitment and training systems, dockyard facilities, naval administrations, strategy and tactics. His book makes a noteworthy
contribution both to naval history and to our knowledge of Anglo-French relations in the nineteenth century.
'a scholarly study of Anglo-French naval rivalry over a period in which it exercised a powerful, at times a dominant influence on both the domestic and foreign policy of the two nations ... C. I. Hamilton's impressive mastery of public and private archives on both sides of the Channel is only the start of it, for this is a book that unites strands of history which are usually studied separately.'
Times Literary Supplement
'a wonderful exposition of an important but often overlooked subject ... It is attractively written and covers every conceivable aspect ... his footnotes reveal that he has actually achieved an impressively even balance between the two sides of the Channel.'
Paddy Griffith, French History, Vol. 8, No. 3, 1994
'At last we have a first class study of the Anglo-French naval rivalry of the mid-nineteenth century ... he has applied his mastery of the archival resources of both nations to the subject in its entirety ... This is a major work, one which opens up a largely neglected field. The arguments advanced are challenging, and shuld serve to promote discussion of a subject which has long been dominated by old standards. There have been few more important naval
books published in this last year.'
Andrew Lambert, King's College, London, Mariner's Mirror
'a fascinating account of the long-standing Anglo-Rench rivalry at sea ... This is an exceptional book that propels naval history into the mainstream of historical endeavour. It is well-written, well-organized, and impeccably researched. Anglo-French Naval Rivalry is an instant classic of the new naval history, and required reading for anyone interested in Anglo-French relations in the period.'
Keith Neilson, Royal Military College of Canada, Canadian Journal of History, August 1994
'ambitious book ... The amount of material on building policies, personnel and actual ship construction is impressive. The research in archives, relevant literature and in private papers is extensive. Thus the volume has real value in the sense that it traverses all the sea lanes of naval historical exploration and has added a few shoals to light up the comprehensive chart. This book is rich in helpful information.'
Donald M. Schurman, The Northern Mariner, Vol. IV No. 3, July 1994
`Hamilton's scope is commendably broad. Hamilton has drawn on an impressibe array of sources, both French and British, in assembling his study. This work makes valuable contributions to our understanding of the composition and structure of the French and British navies during the period'
International History Review
`...a most important work'
The Bulletin of the Military Historical Society
`A comparative study of the naval policies of Britain and France in the mid-nineteenth century by an author as well equipped to deal with the French point of view as is C.I. Hamilton in his Anglo-French Naval Rivalry, 1840-1870 ... is most timely. Hamilton's distinctive contribution to this reappraisal of what might have been considered an exhausted theme comes from his rare mastery of the considerable French sources, primary and secondary, a deep
understanding of the general hsitory of the period, and strong empathy with the French way of doing things ... a highly informative and authoritative piece of research and writing.'
Bryan Ranft, EHR, June 1996