William IV, the 'Sailor King', reigned for just seven years. Rash and impetuous as a young man, he was sent to join the navy by his father, George III, to bring him to order, but he was overpromoted at an early age and saw his years of active service marked by a series of calamities. He was also notorious for his mounting debts and his long relationship with the actress Mrs Jordan, with whom he had ten children.
Yet, as Roger Knight, one of Britain's foremost naval historians, shows in this concise and perceptive biography, William's bluff, unpolished sailor's manner made him popular with the people. Inheriting the throne amid strikes, riots and the push for parliamentary reform, he helped see the country through the great constitutional crisis of the era. Despite his many flaws, he was perhaps a better king than sailor, leaving the monarchy in a healthier state than when he found it, and enabling the smooth succession of his niece, Victoria.
From Roger Knight, established by the multi-award winning The Pursuit of Victory as 'an authority ... none of his rivals can match' (N.A.M. Rodger), Britain Against Napoleon is the first book to explain how the British state successfully organised itself to overcome Napoleon - and how very close it came to defeat
For more than twenty years after 1793, the French army was supreme in continental Europe. How was it that despite multiple changes of government and the assassination of a Prime Minister, Britain survived and eventually won a generation-long war against a regime which at its peak in 1807 commanded many times the resources and manpower?
This book looks beyond the familiar exploits (and bravery) of the army and navy during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. It shows the degree to which, because of the magnitude and intensity of hostilities, the capacities of the whole British population were involved: industrialists, farmers, shipbuilders, gunsmiths and gunpowder manufacturers. The intelligence war was also central; but no participants were more important, Knight argues, than the bankers and international traders of the City of London, without whom the armies of Britain's allies could not have taken the field.
ROGER KNIGHT was Deputy Director of the National Maritime Museum until 2000, and now teaches at the Greenwich Maritime Institute at the University of Greenwich. In 2005 he published, with Allen Lane/Penguin, The Pursuit of Victory: the life and achievement of Horatio Nelson, which won the Duke of Westminster's Medal for Military History, the Mountbatten Award and the Anderson Medal of the Society for Nautical Research. The present book is a culmination of his life-long interest in the workings of the late eighteenth-century British state.
'Superb' - Spectator
Roger Knight was Deputy Director of the National Maritime Museum until 2000, and now teaches at the Greenwich Maritime Institute at the University of Greenwich. His previous books for Allen Lane/Penguin are The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson, which won the Duke of Westminster's Medal for Military History, the Mountbatten Award and the Anderson Medal of the Society for Nautical Research, and Britain Against Napoleon: The Organization of Victory, 1793-1815.