The Westminster Model Navy
: Defining the Royal Navy, 1660-1749

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


At the Restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, Charles II inherited the existing interregnum navy. This was a persistent, but loosely defined organization that included a professional community of officers, a large number of warships, and substantial debts. From the beginning Charles II used royal prerogative to define the Royal Navy. In 1661, Parliament created legislation that simultaneously defined the English state and the Royal Navy. These actions closely linked the Royal Navy’s development to that of the English state, and the use of both statutes and conventions to define the Navy provided the foundation for its development in the ‘Westminster Model’.

This thesis considers the Royal Navy’s development from the Restoration to the replacement of the Articles of War in 1749 in five distinct periods. The analysis shows emphasizes both the consistency of process that resulted from the creation and adoption of definitions in 1660, as well as the substantial complexity and differences that resulted from very different institutional, political and geopolitical circumstances in each period.

The Royal Navy’s development consisted of the ongoing integration of structural and professional definitions created both in response to crises and pressures, as well as deliberate efforts to improve the institution. The Royal Navy was integrated with the English state, and became an institution associated with specific maritime military expertise, and the foundations laid at the Restoration shaped how the Navy’s development reflected both English state development and professionalization. In particular, the aspects of the Royal Navy that Charles II and Parliament respectively defined in 1660 provide important context for when first Parliament, then the Board of Admiralty later stepped outside those bounds.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorAlan James (Supervisor) & Andrew Lambert (Supervisor)

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