Date of Defense
Dr. Kenneth Steuer
With Napoleon's exile and the fall of the French Empire after the Treaty of Fontainebleau the Royal Navy found itself to be at a new pinnacle of power on the high seas. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, a plethora of new techniques for working metal advances in every field would burst forth upon Europe and the Royal Navy and its ships of the line were no exception. Hull design would benefit from advancements in metallurgy, allowing the introduction of iron armor and later steel hulls to counteract the advances in gunnery as the exploding shell developed by inventor Henri Joseph Paixhans replaced the solid shot fired from England's "wooden wall's." Hull size would increase as well, benefiting both from the use of iron and steel as well as new advances in propulsion as ships moved from sail to steam-powered paddle wheels and screw propulsion. Advances in armament would move the cannon from smooth bore to rifle and the method of loading from muzzle to breech. All of these advances would come together to create the warship of the 1870's. The key motivating factor within this military innovation would be the interaction between three of the Great Powers of Europe, Britain, France and Russia, in both peace and war as international rivalry drove home the importance of the new technologies to the normally conservative Royal Navy and the ships of the line.
Elder, Matthew Henderson IV, "From the Ship-of-the-Line to the Ironclad: The Evolution of the Royal Navy from 1815-1870" (2009). Honors Theses. 1251.
Honors Thesis-Campus Only