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  • Naval Leadership in a ‘Fleet in Being’: The Spanish Navy and ‘Armed Neutrality’ in the Mid-Eighteenth Century

    Catherine Scheybeler

    Chapter from the book: Guimerá A. & Harding R. 2017. Naval Leadership in the Atlantic World: The Age of Reform and Revolution, 1700–1850.


    This chapter explores Spanish naval strategies from the perspective of its command structures, defensive policy and naval leadership. It explains how a policy of armed neutrality was forged by the Marqués de la Ensanada for Ferdinand VI with the navy used for diplomatic value deploying an inherited structure based around the three Naval departments of Ferrol, Cádiz and Cartagena. This practical clear command system also had to contend with privateers and was steered by an additional code the Ordenanzas … which all senior officers were obliged to have and to follow. Control over naval commanders from the Court was strict and extended to fighting at sea which was necessary in respect of conflicts with the Barbary States. These conditions still left leadership capabilities an important factor when neutrality was to be enforced in Spanish waters. Detailing the case of the Cartegena xebec squadron action in 1753 off the North African coast, this chapter explains the limits and freedoms permitted in this action. It also considers Spanish naval ideas of seamanship and the Spanish concept of the naval hero concluding that much remains uncertain about this generation of Spanish naval officers.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Scheybeler, C. 2017. Naval Leadership in a ‘Fleet in Being’: The Spanish Navy and ‘Armed Neutrality’ in the Mid-Eighteenth Century. In: Guimerá A. & Harding R (eds.), Naval Leadership in the Atlantic World. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book2.f

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on March 30, 2017