Britain: Practising Aggression
Historians have hesitated to connect British officer recruitment, training, and deployment to combat effectiveness, but it is undoubtedly the case that Britain’s emergence as the leading naval power in Europe shaped the course of the eighteenth century. This chapter explores the development, significance, and experience of the lieutenants’ exam, as well as officers’ social backgrounds, promotion prospects, and conceptions of honour. Because of their practical experience at sea, regular opportunities to deploy in wartime, and stiff competition for employment and promotion, British officers developed an aggressive approach naval warfare. The execution of Admiral Byng played a significant role in shaping the ethos of the officer corps.