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By Martin Robson

Within the maelstrom of Napoleonic Europe, Britain remained defiant, resisting French imperial targets. This Anglo-French competition used to be, primarily, a politico-economic clash for pre-eminence fought on an international scale and it reached a zenith in 1806-1808 with France's obvious dominance of Continental Europe. Britain reacted speedily and decisively to enforce maritime-based innovations to restrict French army and advertisement earnings in Europe, whereas holding British out of the country pursuits. The coverage is very obvious in family with Britain's "Ancient Ally": Portugal. That nation and, through organization her South American empire, grew to become front line within the conflict among Napoleon's objectives and British maritime defense. laying off new light on British conflict goals and maritime process, this can be a vital paintings for students of the Napoleonic Wars and British political, diplomatic, financial and maritime/military background.

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Extra resources for Britain, Portugal and South America in the Napoleonic Wars: Alliances and Diplomacy in Economic Maritime Conflict (International Library of Historical Studies)

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A number of groups had vested interests in the region, such as shipping agents, sugar plantation owners, cotton manufacturers, financiers and insurers. West Indian merchants had ‘wealth and influence, votes and pocket-boroughs’. Investing in the West Indies was an expensive affair, so the merchants had formed two powerful organisations, the Society of West India Merchants and the Meeting of West India Planters and Merchants, to remind government of the vulnerability of the Islands. 74 INTRODUCTION 15 Alongside those with a direct interest other contemporaries understood the value of the British possessions in the West Indies; and the threat from France.

30 32 BRITAIN, PORTUGAL AND SOUTH AMERICA On 25 September 1806 Commodore Samuel Hood intercepted a French frigate squadron from Rochefort bound for the West Indies and laden with troops, stores, arms, ammunition and provisions, capturing four fine 40 gun frigates, all of which were added to the Royal Navy. 32 In 1807, while blockading Cadiz, Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood expressed concern that the French and Spanish fleets would escape, perhaps heading for the Mediterranean, East or West Indies.

Facilities were available at Genoa, Naples and Sicily but French military success removed the former two, while the latter was always under threat and was of little use against the enemy fleet bases at Cadiz (Spain) and Toulon (France). In 1796 Grenville had thought ‘the defence of H. M. F. M. 53 After the Spanish declaration of war that year, the Admiralty decided the Mediterranean fleet: …be stationed from Cape Finisterre to Gibraltar, making its headquarters at Lisbon, and acting in conjunction with the Portuguese fleet for the protection of Portugal, there keeping up a communication with Gibraltar, and taking every opportunity of annoying the enemy… THE IMPORTANCE OF PORTUGAL 37 The fleet would be ‘placed in the most advantageous manner for the protection of our outward- and homeward- bound trade, and for the cutting up that of Spain’.

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