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Politics and the NationBritain in the Mid-Eighteenth Century$
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Robert Harris

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199246939

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199246939.001.0001

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Britain and France and the ‘Empire of the Seas’

Britain and France and the ‘Empire of the Seas’

(p.102) CHAPTER THREE Britain and France and the ‘Empire of the Seas’
Politics and the Nation

Bob Harris

Oxford University Press

This chapter reconstructs debates about foreign affairs and Britain's participation in war during the mid-18th century. It explores the ways in which the country's shifting military and international fortunes were registered in public debate in this period, as well as the ways in which different elements of the political nation responded to these wars. War and rivalry with France became an unfolding drama on to which Britons projected their hopes and anxieties not just about the standing and identity of their nation, but also deeper-lying concerns about the state of society, the political system, overseas trade, popular morals, and religion. The Seven Years War was not just about whether Britain would remain, or fulfil her destiny as, a great power; it was also a war in which fears about the morals and courage of the landed elites pressed hard on contemporary perceptions of the conduct of Britain's military forces; it was a war too in which Scotland particularly, but also Ireland, sought to demonstrate their value and contribution to the cause of Britain and British power overseas.

Keywords:   Britain, Seven Years War, France, foreign affairs, political nation, overseas trade, religion, morals, elites, military forces

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