Reinventing Maritime History

Margarette Lincoln and Nigel Rigby look forward to Maritime History Week in July.

In the introduction to his magisterial six-volume book, The Royal Navy (1897), W.L. Clowes complained that the emergence of naval history as a serious subject for research had up to then been held back by an endless sequence of hagiographies and accounts of naval battles. These were fine on a popular level but, he argued, sea power was more than tactics and heroes. Although its importance had been ignored by the academic establishment, sea power was at the centre of a proper understanding of the history of Britain and, indeed, of civilisation itself (the two terms were used nearly synonymously at the time). In order for this despised Cinders to become Cinderella and take her rightful place at the academic ball she had to reinvent herself. 

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