BookPick: The British Navy in the Baltic
The Baltic is not usually popularly associated with activities by the Royal Navy – yet it was arguably the most vital sea highway to Britain in the last few centuries. This book covers the activities of the British navy in the Baltic Sea from the earliest times until the twentieth century. It traces developments from Anglo-Saxon times, through the medieval period, when there were frequent disputes between English kings and the powerful Hanseatic League, through the seventeenth-century wars with the Dutch, and Britain’s involvement in the Northern Wars in the early years of the eighteenth century.
Of particular interest to me was the major period of British involvement in the Baltic during the Napoleonic Wars, when the British navy fought the Danes, Napoleon’s allies, and was highly effective in ensuring Sweden’s neutrality and Russia’s change of allegiance. I have long held Sir James Saumarez in high regard (I believe he was unfairly overshadowed by others during the period) and both his 1808 expedition and later involvement up to 1815 are appropriately covered.
As well as discussing specific British naval actions in the Baltic the author looks at the impact of patterns of trade, wider international politics, and geographical factors such as winter sea ice and the shallow nature of the Baltic Sea, revealing a continuing fascinating and complex strategic interplay between political and commercial imperatives.
John D. Grainger is the author of numerous books, including Dictionary of British Naval Battles and The First Pacific War: Britain and Russia, 1854-56.
The Boydell Press is to be congratulated on another fine publication, as is the Swedish Society for Maritime History and the Sune Ortendahl Foundation for their support in bringing this book to fruition.