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The Genesis of the Naval Profession

The emergence of the professional naval officer was related both to the necessities of naval warfare and to the structure of society on land. Originally warships were manned by two separate sets of commanders - gentleman soldiers skilled in fighting, and ’tarpaulins’ of humbler social origin skilled in navigation and the manual skills of sailing. Elias traces the onboard conflicts between them, from Drake’s famous insistence that the gentlemen ’haul and draw’ with the sailors, to the gradual merging of the two hierarchies by the end of the eighteenth century. The innovation of the midshipmen - boys of gentle birth who both learned the manual skills of the sailor and received the education of a gentleman - gave crucial advantage to the British Royal Navy over the French and Spanish, in which the greater rigidity of social barriers ashore prevented a similar solution afloat. Planned but never completed by Elias, this book has been reconstructed from his mainly unpublished typescripts.

184 pages | © 2007

History: British and Irish History

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Table of Contents

Norbert Elias (1897-1990) Editors’ Preface Introduction - Elias’s Studies of the Naval Profession by Rene Moelker and Stephen Mennell Gentlemen and Tarpaulins Tensions and Conflicts The Development of the Midshipman Achieving Maritime Supremacy FRAGMENTS - The Growing Costs of the Naval Establishment - Elizabeth and Cromwell Compared On Institutions The Last Act - Elias’s Scenario For a Play about Drake and Doughty Textual variants Bibliography Index.

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