Towards a transnational history of the eighteenth-century british navy
The “long” eighteenth-century British Navy is the subject of a vast and growing secondary literature. Almost all of it, however, has an exclusively national focus. This would not be problematic, given the Navy’s character as a national institution, were it not for the fact that many seamen serving in it – likely at least 14% of crews in foreign stations – were not British or Irish. This article suggests that integrating them into the study of the Navy can significantly affect several ongoing historiographical debates, for example on the modalities of naval recruitment, or on the quality of life in the service, as well as, more predictably, discussions of seamen’s patriotism. The aim is to propose the Navy as an example of how a transnational perspective can be enlightening even in the most unlikely historical context.