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Maritime Supremacy and the Opening of the Western Mind: Naval Campaigns That Shaped the Modern World, 1588-1782

By Peter Padfield

In the great wars of modern history, maritime powers have always prevailed over land-based empires, whether Habsburg, Napoleonic, Nazi or Soviet.

In contrast to the rigid hierarchies and centralisation of land-based empires, those nations attaining mastery at sea have been distinguished by liberty, flexibility and enterprise. The seventeenth-century Dutch were the first to achieve naval and trading dominance and, exploring the effects on daily life, industry, art and thought, finance and power politics, Peter Padfield reveals the Dutch in their golden age as the heralds of modern Western society. 

The British took over the Dutch system of naval, trading and world supremacy in the eighteenth century and were, in their turn, displaced by the United States in the twentieth. This book carries the story from the defeat of the Armada in 1588 to the American Revolutionary War and Rodney’s victory.

Maritime Supremacy and the Opening of the Western Mind charts the growth of linked strengths – sea-fighting, trading, financial and constitutional – which made empires so formidable, and reveals how supremacy at sea freed thought and society itself.

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