Recording: The Anglo-Spanish War: Britannia’s First Attempts to Rule the Waves

Professor Beatrice Heuser speaks about the Anglo-Spanish War of 1585–1604 and the politics behind this maritime campaign during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.


When and how did Britannia begin to aspire to rule the waves? The turning point was the Anglo-Spanish War of 1585–1604, when a handful of enterprising courtiers and captains latched on to Thucydides’ idea that sea power presented a strategic advantage. Neither the Queen’s ships nor her fiscal-military infrastructure were up to it during the war, but this is where the ideas were born for what one of the Queen’s advisers would call the British rule of the sea: ‘Thalattokratiá Brettanikē’.

This event is chaired by Dr Catherine Scheybeler, Historian on the Spanish Navy and rare book and manuscript consultant.

About the speaker

Professor Beatrice Heuser is Chair in International Relations at the University of Glasgow. She was previously a professor at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, and the University of Reading. She has also taught at French and German universities (most recently Sciences Po Paris). Her publications include The Evolution of Strategy (2010), Strategy before Clausewitz (2017) and many works on nuclear strategy, NATO and transatlantic relations. Her next major publication, due in March, is WAR: A Genealogy of Western Ideas and Practices (Oxford University Press).


Beatrice Heuser

Senior Associate Fellow

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