Seapower States: Culture, Identity and Strategy

Wednesday 25th August 2021

St John’s Place, Lower Road, Bemerton, SP2 9NP


This lecture examines the nature and consequences of being a seapower state, as opposed to continental military power, through a collective analysis of the five seapower great powers, Athens, Carthage, Venice, the Dutch Republic and Britain. It attempt to ascertain what distinguished seapower states from terrestrial peers like Russia, small sea states such as ancient Rhodes and early modern Genoa, and Seaborne Empires like that of Portugal. These five states consciously created seapower identities, exploiting the ideas and experiences of precursors, intellectual debts that were openly acknowledged. As a group they did more to advance trade, knowledge and political inclusion than all their landed peers: they shaped the global economy, and the liberal values that define the contemporary western world. They waged war at and from the sea, achieving remarkable asymmetric leverage as they pursued trade over territory, and shaped progressive inclusive political systems to harness the wealth of the sea to warfare.

Entrance for members is included in your annual subscription. For non-members, entrance is £10 (cash only) at the door. 

Andrew Lambert is Laughton Professor of Naval History in the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London, and Director of the Laughton Naval

History Unit. His work focuses on the naval, strategic and cultural history, the evolution of naval historical writing and the history of technology. His books include: The Crimean War: British Grand Strategy against Russia 1853-1856‘The Foundations of Naval History’: Sir John Laughton, the Royal Navy and the Historical ProfessionNelson: Britannia’s God of WarAdmiralsFranklin: Tragic Hero of Polar Navigation, and The Challenge: Britain versus America in the Naval War of 1812, winner of Anderson Medal of the Society for Nautical Research for the best maritime history book. In 2016 he published Crusoe’s Island: A rich and curious history of pirates, castaways and madness – a study of English insularity and the South Pacific. His latest book, Seapower States: Maritime Culture, Continental Empires and the conflict that has shaped the modern world examines the cultural construction of maritime identity, and won the 2018 Gilder Lehrman Book Prize in Military History.