The United Kingdom and the world from 1815 to 1914
The 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland' was officially created on 1st January 1801, with the union of the Kingdom of Great Britain (England + Scotland, created in 1707) and Ireland, becoming hitherto an independent kingdom whose ruler was the British monarch. On 18 June 1815, nine days after the signing of the Final Act of the Congress of Vienna, the victory of Coalition forces over Napoleon at Waterloo, first put an end to the period of the wars against revolutionary France. For the United Kingdom, this date also marks the time of its accession to global rule: its role, especially financially, in these wars was critical: its military power was visible, both on land (the Duke of Wellington , who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo) and offshore (Trafalgar, in 1805, saw the victory of Admiral Nelson on the Franco-Spanish fleet). At the Congress of Vienna, he managed to overcome his conceptions of a Europe based on the balance of power. 1815 for the UK, represents the beginning of an apogee century in international relations.
Problem: Winston Churchill's aphorism, which between Europe and the 'high seas', his country would always choose. The Churchillian theory speaks of 'three circles' which are concentric (Empire, the English speaking world, the rest of the world) and are supposed to summarize, once and for all and in descending order of importance, the scale of British diplomatic preferences. When did the UK fall into the path of global decline?
In 1815, the British Navy (Royal Navy) was the biggest fleet with 214 line vessels and 792 frigates, manned by 140,000 sailors; it outperformed its French rivals by far French (50 vessels of the line and 50 frigates ), Russian (40 vessels of the line) or North American (10 vessels, at most).
This powerful fleet was in fact built throughout the eighteenth century, with successive conflicts (War of Spanish Succession, 1702-1713; War of Austrian Succession, 1740-1748; Seven Years' War, 1756-1763; American War of Independence, 1776-1783) granted increasingly important theaters of naval operations. Its failure in the American Revolution was more attributable to its isolation from a French Spanish-American coalition than to any weakness in the Navy.
So decisive battles were fought at the sea for the survival of Britain: Trafalgar, 21 October 1805 but the campaign of 1 August 1798, the Battle of Aboukir, where Bonaparte was made "prisoner" of Egypt, ruined his plan for domination of the Levant, and thus, the route to India.
In the late French wars, the British colonial empire differed markedly from what it was twenty years ago: India and, more generally, Asia, is now the center of gravity, even if the possessions of the New World, Canada and the Caribbean, were clearly far from negligible.
In addition, the UK received the Congress of Vienna strategically important territorial gains: the islands of Heligoland in the North Sea, Malta and the Ionian Islands in the Mediterranean, Dominica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago in West Indies, Dutch Guiana, Ascension Island, Cape Town, Isle de France (Mauritius), Seychelles, Maldives and Lakshadweep, or Ceylon.
Tags: British Navy, American Revolution, War of Spanish Succession
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