Archive for January, 2010

TV/Books: “Empire of the Seas” – brief review and book tip


Dan Snow continues his Epic journey and he sheds light on the evolution of Nelson’s Navy in the late 18th century. Britain’s Navy was the most powerful in the world, with highly trained crews and ambitious officers. However, by the end of the century they would once again face their rival, France, to fight for Britain’s security, way of life and identity.

Click here for full synopsis. Please also see my previous entry.

In episode three, Snow explains the importance of Britain’s business in the Caribbean, how sugar trade etc. kept the country prospering; he doesn’t skirt around the issue of slavery, and we learn whom we have to thank for the income tax. He also manages to explain the complicated ties between politics, economy and military, and while his enthusiasm for the navy is obvious, he still keeps enough distance to be critical.

Still, I thought this was the weakest episode of the series – it could be summed up with “Dan Snow sails a lot, and Nelson saved the world.” One mention of Rodney, one mention of Jervis and, as usual, none of Collingwood. And how about the casualty numbers? While Snow described rather drastic and colourful “the slaughterhouse” (good on him, war at sea wasn’t romantic), but over 3500 lives were lost on both sides during the Battle of Trafalgar. That’s one of those “details” which shouldn’t have been left out.

You can watch the past three episodes of “Empire of the Seas” on BBC iPlayer.

A tie-in book to the TV series is now available as well, written by Brian Lavery:


I’ve placed my order and will review the book in time. As soon as I know when the DVD becomes available, I’ll keep you posted.

30 January, 2010 at 12:08 pm 2 comments

Garrow’s Law – second season? And contest reminder

“What are you working on at the moment, Mr. Marchant?”

“The next series of ‘Garrow’s Law’…”

Click on the link above to read the complete interview with writer Tony Marchant. Please note that this is not an official confirmation by the BBC that a second season of “Garrow’s Law” has been commissioned, but it sounds very, very promising – is William Garrow back in business? We sure hope so – hide the ladies, lock up the judges and order hair extensions!

Talking about “Garrow’s Law”: there’s still time for you to participate in our contest and win the DVD of the first series. Just send an email to

joyful_molly at

and answer the following question:

“What is the name of Mr. Garrow’s courtroom nemesis?”

A) Tweety
B) Silvester
C) Daffy

Deadline: 4 February, 2010, midnight GMT.

Please read the following rules before you send off your mail.


1. By participating in this contest, you confirm that you have read, understood and accepted the rules.

2. You have to be at least 18 years old to participate.

3. Please be fair: only send in one mail per person.

4. No cash pay-out of your prize.

5. No correspondence will be held over the outcome of the contest.

6. If you are the winner, you’ll have to provide us with your name and address.

7. We’ll send your prize out asap, but have no influence on the speed of your local postal services.

8. Should, for any reason beyond our control, one of the prizes not be available, we’ll replace it with a different prize of the same value.

29 January, 2010 at 9:57 am 2 comments

TV Tip: “Empire of the Seas”, BBC2, Fridays 9pm – 10pm


“Empire of the Seas” is a four-part series by the BBC about the Age of Sail and the role of the Royal Navy from past to present. Finally a programme suitable for old tars and land lubbers alike; you really don’t need to be an expert to enjoy this fascinating history lesson. Bonus points: there’s a refreshing lack of glorification; while respecting the achievements of the seafarers of past centuries, the dark aspects of “ruling the seas” are pointed out as well.

Last Friday’s episode, “Hearts of Oak”, covered the early days of the navy up to the late 17th century. Tonight and next Friday, focus will be on the 18th and 19th century.

So if you ever wondered what the heck I’m geeking out about here, now’s your chance to see for yourself. Click the links below for the press releases on the individual episodes:

15.01.2010: Heart of Oak
For centuries, the Royal Navy has strived to help make Britain one of the world’s great maritime superpowers. In Empire Of The Seas, historian and avid sailor Dan Snow goes beyond battle tactics to reveal a surprising naval history. The series reveals an indelible bond between seafarers and the people of Britain and charts how the Navy shaped modern Britain.

22.01.2010: The Golden Ocean
Dan Snow continues his epic journey examining how the Navy shaped modern Britain and, in this week’s second episode, reveals how 18th-century Britain and the Navy rose from the depths of military and economic disaster to achieve global supremacy.

29.01.2010: High Tide
Dan Snow continues his Epic journey and he sheds light on the evolution of Nelson’s Navy in the late 18th century. Britain’s Navy was the most powerful in the world, with highly trained crews and ambitious officers. However, by the end of the century they would once again face their rival, France, to fight for Britain’s security, way of life and identity.

05.02.2010: Sea Change
Dan Snow explores the ups and downs of a climactic century in British Naval history in the final episode of the series, from thriving Victorian Britain to the early 1900s and the brink of defeat.

22 January, 2010 at 8:31 pm 4 comments

Resource: Battle of the Nile – The Crocodile Sword

Admiral James Saumarez, 1st Baron de Saumarez (one of Nelson’s “Band of Brothers”), was wounded during the Battle of the Nile while still captain. You’ll be glad to hear that no Saumarezes were harmed during the production of the “Antiques Roadshow” on Guernsey.

The “Antiques Roadshow” is one of my guilty pleasures. Due to lack of attic I’ll never find a treasure in an old shoebox, but it’s fun to see other people’s reactions when that “ugly old vase in the garden shed” turns out to be made in the 15th century and is worth a fortune.

“Congratulations! This vase is worth £ 20’000 at least!”
“Oh. Jolly good.”

But I admit, the best moments are when some pretentious snob learns that the “guaranteed authentic jerry of Henry VIII.” he bought for insane money on ebay turns out to be an Italian flowerpot dating back to the 50ies. One of my favourites was the rather snippy lady, descendant of one of Nelson’s captains, who turned up with a plate supposed to be “part of Nelson’s victory service”. Alas – it was a French piece, produced to celebrate – well. The less we know, the better. Where was I? Ah yes, Captain Saumarez.

Nelson was presented by his captains (the “Crocodile Club”) with a special sword, commemorating the victory of the Battle of the Nile. It was a beautiful piece, with a hilt in the shape of a crocodile. Copies were made  for the various captains, and luckily for us, the current Lord de Saumarez brought the one of his anchestor along when the Antique Roadshow set up its tents in Guernsey, on the family’s former estate, Saumarez Park (which is now owned by the state).

The sword is a masterpiece. The greyish-bits on the blade used to be bright blue. I was glad to hear the family has no intention to sell it, despite an estimated value of £ 150’000 – £ 200’000. Personally, I think that pieces of historical importance like this one should either stay with the family or in a museum, not in the safe of a collector. So two thumbs up for the Saumarez-family, and thanks for sharing it with the public. You can watch the episode of the Antique Roadshow for another 2 days here.

Have you seen our new blog yet?
2010 – Admiral Collingwood’s year

19 January, 2010 at 12:19 am 3 comments

New Blog: 2010 is Admiral Collingwood’s Year.

A tribute to Admiral Lord Collingwood on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his death at sea. Don’t expect scientific essays, though – it’s a “spin-off” of this blog here.

All through 2010, you’ll find updates on events, quotes, historical fact, trivia, book reviews and more.

I hope you’ll find the new blog interesting and entertaining.

Just click the banner!

13 January, 2010 at 9:52 pm Leave a comment

Urgent charity-appeal: Earthquake in Haiti

I’d like to ask everybody who can spare a quid to help and support those who try to get some sort of order in the terrible chaos and devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti. People are in desperate need for help.

The following organisations will take your donations:



Thank you.

13 January, 2010 at 12:53 pm Leave a comment

Garrow’s Law DVD contest: correction of deadline and event date

It’s difficult not to get bonkers with all that snow piling up, means: of course the deadline for the


is 4 February, 2010, not 2009. And the evening with Tony Marchant at Herfordshire University is also scheduled for 2010. I’ve corrected the previous entry, thanks to everybody who pointed out the typo.

And yes, you can participate no matter where you live. The Joyful Molly sails anywhere, even to Mars. Just consider that the DVDs are Region 2 / PAL, so if you don’t have a code free DVD player or computer, you might not be able to watch them.

Ooops... wrong date.

11 January, 2010 at 9:40 pm Leave a comment

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Four Ghost Stories from the Age of Sail

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Love, Suspense and Sarcasm in the Age of Sail

Adventure and Romance

Tribute to Admiral Lord Collingwood on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his death at sea

2010 is the year to celebrate a great man.


Royal Navy, general 18th century history, biographies, books, art etc.

Same entries as on wordpress, but with additional RNotC fandom content (icons, updates on fanfic, meta etc.) and discussion.


Maintained by Mark Pallis, Legal and Historical Consultant on the BBC show

Reproduction and historic knitting inspired by original garments, objects and patterns from the past.

Being one amateur historian's exploration of the 18th and 19th centuries.

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