Work of the Fellows: Edited Volumes

An Imperial State at War: Britain from 1689 to 1815

Stone, Lawrence (Fellow, 1990-91; Fellow, 1991-92), ed.

London: Routledge, 1994

From the publisher's description:

The imperial construction of Britain in the eighteenth century was a remarkable achievement. From 1689 to Waterloo in 1815, Britain was engaged not only in consolidating the states of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland into a single political unit, but also in defeating all attempts by France to establish political and military hegemony over Europe. It also won and lost one empire in north America, and then went on to conquer a second in the Caribbean and India. AnImperial State at War stresses that this military enterprise was sustained by the highest taxation per capita in Europe, and by an almost unlimited capacity to borrow. It highlights the wholly unprecedented scale of the demand on manpower and money needed to defeat France between 1793 and 1815. What was peculiar about Britain at this period was that it combined a high degree of personal freedom at home, a relatively large electorate and a Parliament which strictly monopolized the power of the purse, with the deployment of massive military might at sea and abroad. What is even more extraordinary was that it was precisely this fiscal power of the Parliament, seized at the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which enabled Britain to borrow on a scale far higher and at aninterest rate far lower than that of France. As a result, Britain was able to win two empires by building and deploying the largest fleet in the world and by hiring the largest number of mercenary troops, many of them from Germany. Professor Lawrence Stone has assembled here an original collection of papers by the most eminent historians on the eighteenth century. An Imperial State at War will provoke renewed debate in the study of the British state and empire


Subjects: History;; British History; Military History; Imperialism; Economic History; British Empire