Military history of the United Kingdom

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Defence spending in the UK
The Death of General Wolfe

The military history of the United Kingdom covers the period from the creation of the united Kingdom of Great Britain, with the political union of England and Scotland in 1707,[1] to the present day.

From the 18th century onwards, with the expansion of the British Empire and the country's industrial strength, the British military became one of the most powerful and technologically advanced militaries in Europe and the world. Its navy in particular, with major bases in four Imperial fortresses and coaling stations surrounding the globe, was the world's greatest naval force from the 18th to the mid-20th century. British military declined in the mid-20th century as did those of the traditional European continental powers following the two world wars, decolonisation, and the rise of the United States and the Soviet Union as the new superpowers. However, Britain remains a major military power with frequent military interventions around the world since the end of the Cold War in 1991. The present-day British Armed Forces encompass the Royal Navy, the British Army, and the Royal Air Force.

Britain has been involved in a great many armed conflicts since the union in 1707, on all continents except for Antarctica.

18th century[edit]

19th century[edit]

20th century[edit]

21st century[edit]

List of civil wars[edit]

  1. Jacobite Rebellions (1715–16; 1719; 1745–46) - the last civil war in Great Britain

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Acts of Union 1707, accessed 31 December 2010; Uniting the kingdom?, accessed 31 December 2010; Making the Act of Union 1707 Archived 2011-05-11 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 31 December 2010
  2. ^ James Falkner, The War of the Spanish Succession 1701 – 1714 (Pen & Sword, 2015).
  3. ^ John Sadler, Culloden: The last charge of the highland clans 1746 (Tempus, 2006).
  4. ^ Albert Harkness, "Americanism and Jenkins' Ear." Mississippi Valley Historical Review 37.1 (1950): 61-90 online.
  5. ^ Tom Dunne, "1798 and the United Irishmen." The Irish Review (1998): 54-66 online.
  6. ^ Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison: The British Army in Australia 1788–1870 (1986).
  7. ^ Arthur Bryant, Years of Endurance 1793–1802 (1942)
  8. ^ Arthur Bryant, Years of victory, 1802-1812 (1942).
  9. ^ Jeremy Black, "A British View of the Naval War of 1812". Naval History Magazine (August 2008). 22#5 online.
  10. ^ Timothy J. Stapleton, ed. Encyclopedia of African Colonial Conflicts (ABC-CLIO, 2016). vol 1.
  11. ^ Ian F.W. Beckett, The Great war (2007).
  12. ^ "First British troops arrive in Somalia as part of UN mission". The Guardian. May 2, 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Cargo bomb plot: SAS hunting al-Qaeda in Yemen". the telegraph. 2 November 2010.
  14. ^ "UK and US spend millions to counter Yemeni threat". the independent. 30 October 2010. Archived from the original on 2022-05-14.
  15. ^ Thomas Colley, "What's in it for Us: Responses to the UK's Strategic Narrative on Intervention in Libya." RUSI Journal 160.4 (2015): 60-69.

Further reading[edit]

  • Black, Jeremy. Britain as a military power, 1688-1815 (Routledge, 2002).
  • Black, Jeremy. A military history of Britain: from 1775 to the present (2008)
  • Chandler, David, and Ian Beckett, eds. The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Army (1994)
  • Colley, Thomas. Always at War: British Public Narratives of War (U of Michigan Press, 2019) online review
  • Fortescue, J. W. A history of the British army (19v 1899–1930) online
  • Higham, John, ed. A Guide to the Sources of British Military History (2015) 654 pages excerpt
  • Holmes, Richard. Redcoat: the British soldier in the age of horse and musket (WW Norton & Company, 2002).
  • Usher, George. Dictionary of British military history (A&C Black, 2009).