Britannia`s Glories - The Walpole Ministry and the 1739 War with Spain

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This first full-length study of the 1739 war with Spain, the so-called 'War of Jenkins' Ear', looks at both the Spanish and the British side of disputes arising from illicit British trading in the Spanish ports of the Caribbean and the sometimes brutal depredations committed by the Spanish ships licensed to suppress it. It considers the domestic contexts in both countries, including the pressures which bore upon unpopular monarchs and their ministers; in particular, the author demonstrates the vigour with which opposition newspapers vaunted the heritage of British naval power: if ministers only had the political will, it was supposed, Britannia's glories would be revived and she would humble the cowardly popish foreigners of Spain and France. In examining foreign policy in the closing years of the long-lived Walpole ministry, light is also shed on the inner workings of 'high politics', and new evidence offered on the development of the cabinet and the important role played by George II. The author concludes that the breakdown of complex and delicate Anglo-Spanish negotiations over the American trade was due not just to British popular outcry over Jenkins' ear but had a variety of causes, including entrenched national principles, and the interplay of individual personalities. Dr PHILIP WOODFINE teaches in the Department of Humanities at the University of Huddersfield.