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‘[B]ut he refus’d to go, calling me old dog with many more base ill names': Insubordinate officers in the Royal Navy at the turn of the eighteenth century - 1 June 2022

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In the past, historians have investigated indiscipline aboard ship in the age of sail primarily with respect to seamen, not officers, focussing on mutinies understood as collective uprisings of the ratings against their superiors. In this event, a new research perspective will be introduced by moving insubordinate officers into the centre of attention.

By discussing cases found in courts martial records from c. 1680-1720, it will be shown that the recalcitrant behaviour of those who were expected to uphold order aboard could pose a serious challenge to those in command. The event will ask which constellations were likely to lead to acts of insubordination by officers, which approaches to resolve such conflicts senior officers tried before asking for a court martial, and how captains and admirals acting as judges in courts martial evaluated such cases. Set into a wider research framework, an investigation of disobedient officers promises to offer new insights into ‘governance afloat’ (Cheryl M. Fury) in the long eighteenth century.

Speaker biography

Patrick Schmidt is a student of early modern history. His research comprises the history of craft guilds, dis/ability history, and, recently, maritime history. He obtained his doctorate at the University of Giessen and his habilitation at the University of Rostock where he currently teaches.


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Event details

1 June 2022