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Discuss the methods by which Britain became a great power

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The keystone of Britain's power.
  3. The tight relationship between the Throne and the merchants.
  4. The first half-nineteenth century shift.
  5. Industrialization and the glorious revolution.
  6. An early-modernized financial system.
  7. The preservation of balance.
  8. Mahan's historical determinism.
  9. European domination.
  10. Conclusion.
  11. Bibliography.

The very notion of power and by extension the one of great power, have always been elaborate concepts to grasp. Should one study the strength of a nation from a historical perspective, then it appears that the notion of great power could only be defined comparatively. Indeed, it is only in its interaction with others that a nation is, or is not, a great power. Many theorists attempted to determine what places an entity, not especially a political one, in a position of power. From Robert Dahl's emphasis on influence within a decision-making process to James March's stress on power as a control on the outcome of events , the task proves to be demanding. Basically, a large acceptation of the concept seems acceptable here. Britain became a Great Power when she managed to fully integrate the process of decision making among other European Powers, when she influenced their attitude in order to achieve her goals.

[...] Indeed, when Britain stepped out the international stage for a long period, without the ability to intervene when desired, it reinforced continental States at her expense, as underlined by the ?isolation without splendor? of the Restoration monarchy. On the contrary, when Britain intervened to avert a particular State to dominate the continent, she preserved the equilibrium of European forces at her advantage[30]. The Elizabethan intervention against Spain in 1585 is a relevant case in point. Although she was military unprepared, the Queen refused to let Madrid freely assault the United Provinces. [...]


[...] The House of Lords congratulated George I for alliance that opens to us so fair a prospect of an undisturbed succession, an equal balance of power and a flourishing commerce?[34] Whether or not Britain intervened directly into international affairs, she constantly influenced them from the end of the seventeenth century and, in order to do so, she heavily relied on her military Navy. Without falling into Mahan's historical determinism, one can observe that Britain made an efficient use of her geographical condition. [...]


[...] All actives forces seemed directed towards the achievement of economic supremacy, an attitude that made Napoleon describe Britain as a nation of shopkeepers Rare were the countries where State's and private's interests were that related. The Throne promoted private wealth and relied on it when needed. It was in Britain that this idea of national interest blossomed first, during the pivotal period between the Glorious Revolution and the War of the Spanish Succession. Concepts and ideas that will become the basis of the political and economic system of many countries stemmed from Britain, which de facto advantaged her. [...]

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