The Age of George III

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Pitt at War: Foreign Policy

Pitt had a clear policy and intention: defend Britain and her Empire first, and deal with France in Europe as an incidental.  The principles were:

One result of this was the West Indies campaigns, which killed thousands of troops.

All Britain's military concentration was on the Royal Navy. Britain's 'wooden walls'. Sea power was crucial to Britain's defence. A token army under the Duke of York (the Grand Old Duke of York) was sent to Europe, but Pitt preferred to send subsidies instead of men, to help her allies (cf Chatham).

Pitt negotiated European coalitions to raise armies to fight France on land while Britain used her sea-power to defend European sea routes and blockade France. The French defeated European coalitions on land; Britain defeated the French navy at sea. France was prevented from invading Britain and the Empire, so Pitt's personal objectives were met. The long-term objective i.e. the defeat of France, was not met until Britain put an army in the field, under Wellington.

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Last modified 12 January, 2016

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