Spies Versus Prizes: Technology Transfer Between Navies in the Age of Trafalgar

By Larrie D. Ferreiro, published February 2007

Abstract

Britain, France and Spain shared or stole naval technology in the century before Trafalgar. France preferred industrial espionage; Britain, capturing ships; and Spain, a combination of exchanges and espionage. Jorge Juan y Santacilia (in 1749–50) brought techniques and over eighty skilled craftsmen to Spain, resulting in the ‘construcción a la inglesa’; Henri Louis de Fulque and Armand-Guy-Simon de Coethempren (in 1764–5 and 1785) brought the principles of copper sheathing to France. Britain preferred taking the lines of prizes, for example the Invincible, resulting in the domination of the 74. Thus the Trafalgar ships ‘were not wholly indigenous creations of each nation’; by 1805 ‘the naval industries were already a global marketplace’.

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Filed under: Atlantic | Napoleonic War | English Channel | Other (Eighteenth C)
Subjects include: Navies | Ship Handling & Seamanship | Shipbuilding & Design

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