Assoluta libertà dei mari? L'Impero britannico e la sfida navale degli Stati Uniti

Translated title of the contribution: [Autom. eng. transl.] Absolute freedom of the seas? The British Empire and the US naval challenge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


[Autom. eng. transl.] The keystone on which the British Empire rested between the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was, from the military point of view, the naval hegemony of the Royal Navy. Thanks to such superiority, London had the possibility of controlling the routes of communication with its overseas territories both in times of peace and war. As a result, this was a vital interest both for Britain and for the entire imperial system. Seen in this light, British hegemony acquired a purely defensive profile. However, it was the offensive dimension that gained more prominence with the outbreak of the Great War, in particular with the proclamation of the naval blockade against Germany and the other central Empires. The blockade involved not only the belligerent countries. Beyond the Atlantic, the 'big' neutral, the United States, protested vigorously against London. According to Washington, the blockade penalized not only the Central Empires but also those who, intent on remaining outside the conflict, saw their economies hit by the impossibility of trading with 'traditional' partners involved in the war. Britain's choice to keep the blockade in place despite the vibrant American protests was certainly not easy between 1914 and 1916. On the other hand, the United States represented both a crucial supplier of ammunition and the main financial source for the British . In 1917, Washington's entry into the war, despite a solid cooperation with London, re-proposed those frictions of competitive origin proper to the handover between one country, in this case the United States, which was rapidly growing on the international scene and another, Great Britain with its Empire, in decline, at least relative. The naval blockade had also triggered a competitive mechanism between the Royal Navy and the US Navy, with the former unquestionably standing above the latter in spite of Alfred Mahan's prescriptions, which only a few years earlier had proclaimed the need to make the US Navy the main symbol of US power on the global scene. For the British Empire the greatest diplomatic challenge undoubtedly came with the proclamation of Wilson's Fourteen Points in January 1918. In particular, it was the second principle, the one that stated that "freedom of navigation by sea, outside territorial waters, so in peace as in war "should be" absolute "to arouse the greatest concerns in London. The diatribe on the interpretation of this principle was a matter of constant debate in the relations between the United States and the British Empire throughout 1918 and beyond, so much so that not even the Peace Conference succeeded in resolving the issue.
Translated title of the contribution[Autom. eng. transl.] Absolute freedom of the seas? The British Empire and the US naval challenge
Original languageItalian
Title of host publicationIl 1918. La vittoria e il sacrificio
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Prima guerra mondiale
  • Relazioni anglo-americane


Dive into the research topics of '[Autom. eng. transl.] Absolute freedom of the seas? The British Empire and the US naval challenge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this