England in the Mediterranean: A Study of the Rise and Influence of British Power within the Straits 1603-1713 - Vol. 2

By Julian S. Corbett | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XXVI
THE NAVAL STRATEGY OF WILLIAM III.

IT is a curious fact, the significance of which it would be as wrong to ignore as to exaggerate, that the period during which England abandoned the Mediterranean coincides exactly with the zenith of Louis XIV.'s power. Within six months from the lowering of the British flag at Tangier, the truce of Ratisbon was signed, which confirmed to France her hold upon the Empire, and is usually taken as marking the culmination of Louis's triumphs. Within a year of the reappearance of a British fleet within the Straits, Namur capitulated, and Louis was facing the first of that series of reverses which brought his empire about his ears.

In dealing with European history from one aspect, nothing is easier than to lose our sense of proportion, to exaggerate the importance of our particular point of view. We have now traced, step by step for nearly a century, the remarkable phenomena that accompanied the interference of the two Northern sea powers in the Mediterranean. We have seen how constantly that interference or its removal seemed to shift the whole action of the stage. We have now to witness the last act of our drama, when those two powers were joined in one, and after ineffectual efforts to baffle the ambitions of France they at last threw the mass of their strength into the Mediterranean and immediately saw the gigantic system of the enemy begin to totter. Many were the forces at work, and

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