John Bull s’en va t’en guerre

John Brewer

  • Wars and Revolutions: Britain 1760-1815 by Ian Christie
    Arnold, 359 pp, £17.50, June 1982, ISBN 0 7131 6157 4
  • Augustan England: Professions, State and Society 1680-1730 by Geoffrey Holmes
    Allen and Unwin, 323 pp, £18.50, November 1982, ISBN 0 04 942178 6

Eighteenth-century states were built for war. Their largest organisations were armies and navies, the bulk of their taxes funded the armed forces, and their heroes were the leading soldiers and sailors whose valiant deeds attested to the power of the armigerous nation. War was the norm, peace an aberration – a pause when the great and little powers drew breath and prepared to continue the fight. Thus the period from the Glorious Revolution to the end of the Napoleonic wars was one of almost unmitigated hostility between England and France. Both nations mobilised an ever-growing war machine in the struggle for European supremacy and hegemony on three continents.

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