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In a series on the Royal Navy's role in British history, Dan Snow shows how the country came out of military and economic disaster to achieve global supremacy.

Historian and sailor Dan Snow presents the second episode in this four-part series examining the remarkable story of how the country's greatest institution - her navy - has shaped her history. In The Golden Ocean, Snow charts the period from 1690 to 1759 and reveals how England - soon to be Britain - and her navy rose from the depths of military and economic disaster to achieve global supremacy.

In 1690, France ruled the waves and the Royal Navy was in tatters. King William III had taken England into a disastrous war against the most powerful country in Europe. If England was to survive, it needed a new navy, one capable of carrying the fight to its enemies anywhere in the world.

To achieve this would require a national effort unlike anything that had been seen before. King William III's determination to achieve mastery of the seas unleashed a chain reaction of revolutions in finance, industry and agriculture which reshaped the landscape and created the country's first great credit boom. Fifty years before the Industrial Revolution, the Royal Navy became the engine of global change, propelling Britain into the modern world.

It had the desired effect at sea. By 1759, French forces around the world were capitulating to Britain's superior Navy. For the first time in her history, Britannia really did rule the waves.

1 hour



Role Contributor
Presenter Dan Snow
Producer Lisa MacHale
Director Steven Clarke
Executive Producer Dominic Crossley-Holland


  • Fri 22 Jan 2010 21:00
  • Sat 23 Jan 2010 18:00
  • Thu 28 Jan 2010 23:30
  • Thu 1 Apr 2010 02:20
  • Wed 5 May 2010 19:30
  • Fri 25 Mar 2011 01:00
  • Tue 28 Feb 2012 19:30
  • Tue 28 Feb 2012 23:50
  • Fri 28 Sep 2012 19:00
  • Sat 5 Dec 2015 19:00
  • Tue 8 Dec 2015 00:20
  • Fri 10 Nov 2017 00:40
  • Mon 8 Apr 2019 20:00

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