For more than twenty years after 1793, the French army was supreme in continental Europe, and the British population lived in fear of French invasion. How was it that despite multiple changes of government and the assassination of a Prime Minister, Britain survived and won a generation-long war against a regime which at its peak in 1807 commanded many times the resources and manpower?
This book looks beyond the familiar exploits of the army and navy to the politicians and civil servants, and examines how they made it possible to continue the war at all. It shows the degree to which, as the demands of the war remorselessly grew, the whole British population had to play its part. The intelligence war was also central. Yet no participants were more important, Roger Knight argues, than the bankers and traders of the City of London, without whose financing the armies of Britain's allies could not have taken the field.
The Duke of Wellington famously said that the battle which finally defeated Napoleon was 'the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life': this book shows how true that was for the Napoleonic War as a whole.
Roger Knight was Deputy Director of the National Maritime Museum until 2000, and now teaches at the Greenwich Maritime Institute at the University of Greenwich. In 2005 he published, with Allen Lane/Penguin, The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson, which won the Duke of Westminster's Medal for Military History, the Mountbatten Award and the Anderson Medal of the Society for Nautical Research. The present book is a culmination of his life-long interest in the workings of the late 18th-century British state.
Veve describes the complete history of the allied occupation, from the peace negotiations and establishment of an occupying force, to the Conference of Aix-la-Chapelle and the departure of the allies. The full range of Wellington's duties and accomplishments are examined, including his inspection of the crucial Dutch barrier fortress renovation program and his decisions regarding troop reductions and the final termination of occupation. Also cited is Wellington's extraordinary management of what was the first multinational peacekeeping operation, his ability to maintain neutrality for the army, and the many years of stability and peace that followed his assignment. This book will be an essential reference work for students and scholars of military history, British history, and political science, as well as for college, university, and public libraries.