All the Seas of the World: The First Global Naval War, 1739–1748

Volume 1, 1739–1745

Albert C.E. Parker

First integrated history of the naval operations of the wars of Jenkins's Ear and early years of War of the Austrian Succession at sea (1739-46), from documents and published accounts of all participating nations, correcting the errors and omissions in histories based on only one country's sources.
Date Published :
February 2023
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
From Reason to Revolution
Illustration :
c 109 tables & orders of battle, 38 maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781915113931
Pages : 636
Dimensions : 9.75 X 6.75 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


The War of Jenkin’s Ear was fundamentally about silver. Silver was the only commodity that Asians would exchange with Europeans for their spices, tea, porcelain, and silk, but most of the world’s silver was produced in Spanish America. Anyone who wished to trade in the Far East first had to trade with Spanish America. But Spain, like Britain, had a closed imperial trading system, with only limited legitimate opportunities for trade by British merchants. Attempts by Spanish authorities to prevent ‘smuggling’ were highly resented in Britain, especially since Spain was regarded as a country of weak, incompetent cowards. When an agreement to settle the resulting disputes foundered in 1739, Great Britain declared war on Spain.

The resulting conflict, named much later after an incident in which a British merchant captain had lost an ear to Spanish customs enforcers, was perforce a maritime war: neither country was in a position to launch a military campaign on its opponent’s home territory. The war featured the first incursion by a European state navy into the Pacific Ocean to attack enemy ships and ports and the largest European amphibious expedition so far to the West Indies, resulting in thousands of dead British soldiers and sailors at Cartagena (now in Colombia). Meanwhile, Spanish involvement in the war that had begun over Austrian territory in December 1740 led to extensive British naval operations in the Mediterranean in support of Austria. By 1744, France, unofficially at war with Britain in Europe since 1741 declared war on Britain in February 1744 and sent a fleet into the English Channel to cover an invasion of England. At the same time, the French fleet based at Toulon sortied in conjunction with a Spanish squadron to attack the British Mediterranean fleet. By 1745, British American colonists were attacking a fortified French port on Cape Breton Island (now in Nova Scotia), and the British home fleet was working hard to interdict French attempts to ship men, money, and weapons to support an uprising in Scotland.

All the Seas of the World sheds new light on all aspects of the naval operations of the Spanish, British, and French navies in all theaters of the war which lasted from October 1739 to October 1748. Volume 1 covers naval battles and campaigns from 1739 to 1745, including notable single-ship actions as well as campaigns by fleets and squadrons, in the Bay of Biscay, the English Channel, Mediterranean, the West Indies, and the Pacific Ocean in detail, with full orders of battle for all engagements as well as some campaigns that ended without fighting. The study exposes errors in previous accounts based on only one side’s documents, including convoys and fleets that never existed, overestimates and exaggerations of opposing forces and casualties, and misunderstandings of enemy plans and intentions. Use of a wide range of sources reveals naval campaigns omitted from previous literature, such as the extensive Spanish response in the Pacific to the expedition commanded by George Anson, the success of the Spanish navy in carrying and escorting shipments of silver from America, and the strategically successful Spanish sea borne supply operation for their army in Italy.

Volume 1 includes nearly 40 maps showing long-range fleet and squadron movements and the maneuvers of individual ships in fleet, squadron, and single-ships actions, many of them never previously charted. Over 100 tables list the ships assigned to fleets, stations, and squadrons or present at major battles, compare the size and strength of potential or actual opposing forces, list operations or movements over time, or provide detailed information about the ships taking part in notable battles.

About The Author

Albert Parker earned his PhD in history at Washington University, St Louis, Missouri. During a career as a sample survey research professional, he pursued naval history as an avocation. He has been investigating the naval campaigns of 1739–48 for over 20 years. He is also the author of essays on Bourbon seaborne support for the 1745 Jacobite uprising in Scotland and on Spanish naval operations, 1732–1750 that will be published in forthcoming Helion collections, and of a pending study of naval operations in the Russo-Swedish War of 1741–43.

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