The Shortening of Sail After the Battle of Lowestoft, 3 June 1665

To mark the 350th anniversary of the battle, I’ve been tweeting the key events at the appropriate times during the day. However, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the battle doesn’t lend itself readily to Twitter. After destroying the Dutch flagship during the day’s action – a brief description of which can be found here […]

The Return of That Other Guy

Conference season again. Last week – ‘Statesmen and Seapower’ at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth. This week – Naval Dockyards Society conference at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Next week – hitting my head slowly and repetitively against a wall in yet another attempt to remind myself that agreeing to give papers […]

Saints and Soldiers: The Naming of Stuart Warships, c.1660-c.1714, Part 3.

Time for the third and final part of my discussion of warship naming under the later Stuarts. This topic has generated some interesting discussion, so I hope to return to it one day, particularly as more and more interesting connections keep coming out of the woodwork. For example, and despite the fact that the information […]

Fubbs Yes, Mum No: The Naming of British Warships, c.1660-c.1714, Part 1

The material in this week’s post (to be continued in a fortnight – I’ll be at the Olympic Stadium in a week’s time!) was originally intended as the basis for an article in an academic journal. Two things changed my mind, and made me decide to publish it here instead: firstly, I didn’t really have […]

Solebay 340, Part 3

The Battle of Solebay did little to foster greater unity within the combined fleet. Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of the battle the bitterest recriminations were not those between the British and the French, but those between individual officers in the two fleets. Sir Joseph Jordan and Sir John Kempthorne, Sandwich’s two subordinate flag officers […]

Solebay 340, Part 2

Despite their impressive outward appearance, the French ships simply had no experience of operating in such a large fleet in wartime. Even before d’Estrées arrived at Spithead, King Charles II himself, at a meeting of the Committee for Foreign Affairs, expressed the view that the Duke of York should ‘ripen the Fr[ench] in passage and […]

1665: The Second Blast

In the summer of 1665, while plague was beginning to spread in London, one of the greatest battles of the sailing era took place. The Battle of Lowestoft ‘was one of the most blue-blooded battles of the age of sail. The British fleet was commanded in person by James, Duke of York, Lord High Admiral, heir […]

Captains and Kings

First, apologies for not posting last week. As I mentioned on Twitter, I paid the price for getting too carried away on ‘Quinton 4’, The Lion of Midnight, and typing over 8,000 words in two days with little regard for ‘elf ‘n’ safety’. The result was that I woke up the next morning with a hand […]

Rules of Succession

There’s been much spluttering about the announcement of a change to the royal rules of succession, both to allow elder girls to succeed before younger brothers and to end the prohibition on marriage to Catholics. Indeed, it’s been one of those rare cases of equally loud and indignant spluttering from both left and right – […]