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Rule Britannia

It is hard today to envisage the era when the Royal Navy ruled the seas, its cruisers and gunboats policing Britain's worldwide empire and trade, its battlefleet providing the force behind Britain's global power. It was a legendary service carrying an aura of invincibility from its victorious history culminating in Trafalgar even as its ships changed out of all recognition in response to the industrial age, Nelson's 'wooden walls' giving way to steel battleships, destroyers and submarines.

Peter Padfield describes this wholesale transformation and brings the lives of officers and men and the tasks they undertook vividly to the page. This classic account of a uniquely splendid service remains unsurpassed.


“The book is a must for anyone seeking to understand the eminence and the decline of British global power.”

BBC History

“This highly informative and lavishly illustrated volume by a naval historian who is also an experienced sailor describes the Navy’s many tasks and explores the lives and attitudes of the officers and men of a uniquely powerful force.”

The Sunday Telegraph

“Padfield’s book, first published in 1981, and still unsurpassed, shows how the Admiralty maintained supremacy by abandoning tradition. In effect, his book, for all its salty description of Jack Tars scurrying up to the top-gallants, describes a revolution.”

The Guardian

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