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In the summer of 1755, the Royal Navy embarked on a mission to make ‘prizes’ of French maritime. By the end of November, the navy had captured 353 French vessels, imprisoned over 7,200 French sailors, and held both as diplomatic tools hoping to sway France to avert a new war. This pre-emptive strike revealed much about the ‘prize industry.’ Admiral John Byng played a starring role in this 1755 Channel Campaign. Yet, less than seven months later, the Battle of Minorca’s outcome became politicised and Byng’s excoriation in the press began unabated. I would argue that ‘prize culture’ played a role in the demonization of Byng, and that the campaign to capture the enemy’s maritime had significant impacts upon the readiness of Byng’s Minorca-bound fleet. The two naval operations were intertwined and yet the historiography on Byng, Minorca, and naval operations in general at the beginning of the Seven Years’ War remains disconnected.


Dr Joseph Krulder is a veteran of the United States Navy and a British historian. He earned his doctorate at the University of Bristol studying under Dr Richard Sheldon and Professor Ronald Hutton. Dr Krulder also worked closely with Nicholas Rogers to produce his recently published book with Routledge, The Execution of Admiral John Byng as a Microhistory of Eighteenth-Century Britain (2021), now in paperback.

This King's Maritime History Seminar will be held online and in-person. For those joining online, the Zoom link will be sent by email two days before the event.

At this event

Alan James

Reader in International History

Event details

Dockrill Room K6.07
Strand Campus
Strand, London, WC2R 2LS