The Oxford Companion to British History

By John Cannon | Go to book overview


nabobs, a corruption of the Urdu nawab, a governor or nobleman, was the fashionable term for men who had returned from India with ample fortunes, and often a taste for lavish living and political advancement. They were satirized by Samuel Foote in a highly successful play, The Nabob, put on at the Haymarket in 1772. Well-known nabobs included *Clive, Sir Robert Fletcher, General Richard Smith, Sir Francis Sykes, and Paul Benfield.


Najerá, battle of, 1367. This engagement, fought in northern Spain, contributed much to the renown of *Edward, the Black Prince. He had intervened in Castile to assist Peter II (the Cruel), deposed by his half-brother, Henry of Trastamara. The victory on 3 April restored Peter to power. Within two years, however, Trastamara had regained the throne, this time with French help, and the Black Prince, having never received the financial reward Peter had promised, was forced to increase taxation in his principality of Aquitaine to cover the cost of his Spanish expedition. The battle is also known as Navarrete.


Namibia. After much missionary activity, South West Africa was annexed by Germany in 1884. After the First World War, the territory was administered as a mandate by South Africa. In 1966 the United Nations ended the mandate but South Africa retained control in the face of an increasing guerrilla war, waged by the South West Africa People's Organization. In 1990 the territory became independent and a SWAPO government was established. Much of the area is barren and the population is sparse. The main economic activity is the extraction of diamonds, uranium, and copper.


Nanking, treaty of, 1842. The first * Chinese War 1839,-42 originated when the Chinese authorities seized and destroyed large quantities of opium, which British merchants were importing. After sporadic military and naval actions, the Chinese emperor agreed to open up trade, pay compensation for the loss of the opium, and cede * Hong Kong. Queen Victoria wrote that ' Albert is very much amused at my having got the island of Hong Kong.'


Nantwich, battle of, 1644. Throughout the Civil War, Charles I entertained excessive hopes of assistance from Ireland. In the summer of 1643 he negotiated an armistice with the catholic Confederacy, permitting a number of Irish royalists to cross to England. Lord *Byron, holding Chester for, the king, sought to organize them and in January 1644 was laying siege to Nantwich. He was attacked on 24 January by Sir Thomas *Fairfax and Sir William Brereton, and though he got his cavalry away, lost most of his new infantry, killed or captured.


Napier, Sir Charles James ( 1782-1853). Soldier. Napier was commissioned into the army at the age of 12 thanks to the patronage of his cousin and namesake, Charles James *Fox. He served in the Peninsular War ( 1808-11) and in the American War ( 1812-14). From 1819 to 1830 he was a military resident in Greece and was offered command of the Greek liberation army, which he declined for reasons of penury. In 1839 he was appointed military commander of the north of England during the chartist revolt. In 1841 he accepted a lucrative Indian staff appointment and, amidst considerable controversy, provoked the conquest of Sindh from which he made £50,000 in loot. He announced his victory with the famous signal 'Peccavi' ('I have sinned'). He left India in 1847 but returned in 1849 as commander-in-chief of the Indian army. However, he clashed with the governor-general, Lord *Dalhousie, and resigned in 1851.


Napier, John ( 1550-1617). Mathematician. Napier invented logarithms, greatly simplifying calculations involving multiplying and dividing. As Kepler put it, he doubled the life of astronomers (by halving the time they took numbercrunching). He was 8th laird of Merchiston. Educated in France and then at St Andrews, he published his Mirifici logarithmorum canonis desctiptio in 1614, with tables and explanations. The basic principle was to reduce multiplication to addition by using powers: thus 102X103=105. In the course of 20 years' work, he came up with the base 10 for logarithms, so that the examples above would be 2, 3, and 5. In 1617, he published Rabdologia, describing 'Napier's bones', or rods calibrated logarithmically; as developed into the slide rule, this was essential in science and engineering until the electronic calculator was invented.


Napier, Robert, 1st Baron Napier ( 1810-90). Soldier. Napier was born in Ceylon and almost all his career was in India. Entering the Bengal Engineers in 1826, he was twice wounded in the 1840s in the * Sikh wars, and was wounded for a third time while defending * Lucknow in the *Indian mutiny of 1857. He was knighted in 1858. He served in the * China War and in 1867 commanded an expedition to Abys-


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The Oxford Companion to British History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Ppreace vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Note to the Reader xii
  • A 1
  • B 71
  • C 149
  • D 273
  • E 318
  • F 363
  • G 399
  • H 445
  • I 503
  • J 523
  • K 541
  • L 553
  • M 602
  • N 666
  • O 701
  • P 717
  • Q 782
  • R 785
  • S 831
  • T 907
  • U 941
  • V 951
  • W 960
  • Y 1008
  • Z 1015
  • Subject Index 1034


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