Hanoverian Policy, Clausewitzian Friction, and the Preconditions to British Industrialization

 Aaron Fung

Economic growth is simple; one need only produce more this year than the previous year. This does not mean that economic growth is easy. All attempts to grow an economy are met with challenges, often unforeseen. Carl von Clausewitz says “...the simplest thing is difficult. The difficulties accumulate and end by producing a kind of friction that is inconceivable...” (von Clausewitz, 138) He goes on to define friction as the force that makes the simple difficult. Friction may be brought upon oneself. Friction may also be caused by external forces. The Marine Corps Doctrine FMFM1Warfighting manual says, “...we should attempt to minimize self-induced friction … we must attempt at the same time to raise our enemy’s friction to a level that destroys his ability to fight” (Warfighting). The Industrial Revolution came first to Britain: the Industrial Revolution did not come to France. This essay argues that this occurred because Hanoverian policy minimized friction, as defined by Carl von Clausewitz, within its empire while increasing friction experienced by its enemies, primarily France. The increased friction experienced by Britain’s enemies hampered their ability to threaten British security and interests, allowing the British economy to grow. France, on the other hand, suffered as a result of increased friction experienced, and this prevented an economic take-off.

Britain faced many threats from within its empire. These threats created friction that obstructed the economic growth of Britain. Though in name it was a united, in reality the United Kingdom had trouble politically integrating the kingdoms of Scotland and Ireland. “...while the new regime... successfully maintained a free trade area within England and Wales it took several decades to integrate Scotland politically into a single market and more than a century to incorporate Ireland into a unified kingdom and economy” (O’Brien, 129). Not only were Scotland and Ireland difficult to incorporate, they were the source of much bloodshed and property destruction. “Parliament deposed James II peacefully but his departure from London provoked civil war and considerable destruction of life and property in Scotland as well as Ireland” (O’Brien, 129). This Jacobite opposition to the Hanoverian authority, with its destruction of life and property, increased the friction within the British empire, adversely affecting the stability of the government and the economy. If a functioning market economy were to come about, this Jacobite threat had to be addressed.

In 1745, the Jacobite threat had been engaged and terminated by Hanoverian use of armed force. General Cumberland met and defeated Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite army at Culoden Moor. “...the state slowly became immune to Jacobite sedition and other threats to good order” (O’Brien, 150). This army under the command of Bonnie Prince Charlie was the critical strength of the Jacobite cause; its defeat meant the end of Jacobitism as a serious political force in European politics. Jacobitism had ceased to be a threat to Hanoverian rule. During the eighteenth century, the English government was willing to use armed force to deal with
challenges to the peace. “...manifestations of serious challenges that could not be settled by established local authorities were on the whole quickly and effectively put down by the military forces of the Crown.”(O’Brien, 131) The Hanoverian government became ever more ready to use armed force against its population as the eighteenth century wore on, especially after the American and French Rebellions. In the absence of a modern civilian police force, the use of military force to enforce the laws and peace decreased friction and maintained a secure, stable government and economy. This security and stability within the British Empire were necessary preconditions to economic growth.

However, not all threats came from within the Empire. Across the channel, France remained a threat to British interests. As Hanoverian domestic policy reduced the friction experienced within Britain, it increased the friction experienced by its enemies. By increasing friction to their enemies, their British policy ensured that France’s ability to threaten British interests and security were hampered. “... [France] never ceased to threaten the interests and security of the British economy until after the defeats of Napoleon, first at Trafalgar and finally at Waterloo (Black 1986)” (O’Brien, 136). France threatened British interests, both with ambitions of invasion as well as its trade. The critical strength of the Hanoverian government in facing the French threat was the British naval supremacy of the seas. Not only did the British navy protect Britain and British commerce, but it also indirectly engaged with French land troops. Carl von Clausewitz observed the power of British naval domination against the French land forces during the Napoleonic Wars::

England dominates the sea; France must, therefore, be extremely sensitive about her whole Atlantic coast and she must keep some forces to defend it. However weak their coastal defenses might be, they make her frontiers three times as long and hence she must withdraw substantial forces from the theater of war. If England has 20,000 to 30,000 landing troops available to threaten France, they might perhaps immobilize two or three times as many French; and this would involve not only troops but also money, guns, etc., for the fleet and coastal batteries (von Clausewitz, 768).

The mere potential of the English navy to land its troops on the beaches of France was enough to tie down a disproportionate amount of French resources in t he defense of an invasion that may never come. The anxiety of a potential British invasion force landing anywhere on the French coast contributed to the friction France experienced. “Naval power forestalled, repelled and protected the British Isles from invasion and provided its capitalists with the security required to invest in the long-term future of their economy and Empire” (O’Brien, 141). Britain, as an island nation, is difficult to invade; British naval domination made it nearly impossible to invade. Nearly impossible to invade, but not absolutely impossible, as the French landing of 1,000 troops in Ireland in 1798 proved. In addition, Britain was the center of an Empire, with commercial interests on the continent. Naval power alone would not be sufficient to secure British security and interests. “...seapower alone would not be sufficient to preserve the security of the realm, to safeguard the Empire or even to protect Britain’s growing share of the world trade” (Baugh 1983, 1-46; 1988, 1-58)”(O’Brien, 138).This meant Britain had to supplement its naval strategy with a commitment of ground forces. In general, Britain opted to “...retain troops at home in case enemy soldiers managed to land on English beaches” and preferred the flexibility of hiring mercenary forces on short notice (O’Brien, 139). This allowed Britain to inflict damage upon its enemies’ forces without a heavy commitment of its own forces. British strategy could respond more quickly to opportunities and threats while minimizing the risk to Britain. This increased friction to the enemy at the cost of government tax money, rather than British lives and resources. With this strategy, Britain could control key positions on the continent, protecting British trade with the continent and its realm. This strategy increased friction experienced by France, hampering their ability to threaten British interests.

By both decreasing the friction within the British Empire and increasing the friction amongst British enemies, namely the French, the British economy was secure and stable, free from the anxieties of armed conflict. “Naval power forestalled, repelled and protected the British Isles from invasion and provided its capitalists with the security required to invest in the long-term future of their economy and Empire” (O’Brien, 141). But not only the long-term future of the economy and Empire, but also British inventors’ ability to innovate was protected, as commercial innovation is difficult in an unstable environment. Trade benefited as well, as the British naval power protected British commerce. “In addition, the course of British trade was much less irregular [than France’s trade], because it did not suffer as much from the wars.”(Crouzet, 148). The Empire enjoyed free trade within and Britain continued to enjoy commercial relations with the continent as, “Before 1805 no great power emerged on the mainland of Europe capable of obstructing the kingdom’s trade with the continent”(O’Brien, 150).Because of Hanoverian projection of military power and British naval dominance of the seas, British commerce remained relatively untouched by war.
The French economy, on the other hand, suffered as a result of Hanoverian policy. While the British economy was protected from the effects of the wars of the eighteenth century, the French economy suffered. For example, French trade suffered:

“At first, French trade... grew at a rate similar to the English, but after about 1735 it accelerated sooner and faster, doubling in value in under twenty years....But this spurt was cut short by the Seven Years War, during which French trade was driven off the seas by the Royal Navy and fell 50 percent., while English trade continued to grow.” (Crouzet, 148).

English trade remained unaffected by war, while French trade experienced disastrous results. The friction inflicted upon the French economy was most felt in the area of trade. Indeed, Crouzet argues that the French economic growth rates differed very little from English economic growth rates. Indeed, Crouzet argues that “...France was not disastrously behind, and the Industrial Revolution might have taken off there with only a few years’ delay in relation to England. But the ‘national catastrophe’ which the French Revolution and the twenty years war meant to the French economy would intensify the discrepancy and make it irremediable.” (Crouzet, 173). Crouzet thinks that if only France could have avoided Revolution and Napoleonic wars, that it would have experienced its own slightly later Industrial Revolution. Because of the self-induced friction opposed to the economic growth of the French economy, in the form of armed conflict and revolution, a French industrial take-off was obstructed.

Arguably, none of the the individual obstacles to economic growth was alone enough to prevent French industrialization. Rather, it was the friction caused by Hanoverian policy as well as self-induced friction within the French kingdom. On the other hand, Hanoverian policy reduced friction within the British Empire while increasing the friction experienced by its enemies, particularly France. The friction experienced by Britain’s enemies crippled their ability to threaten British interests and security. This allowed a secure British economy to grow relatively free from anxiety of serious disruption. The French economy, because of the friction from within and without, experienced severe enough disruption to prevent it from experiencing an Industrial Revolution.

Clausewitz, Carl Von. "Book 1 Chapter 7." On War. New York: Knopf, 1993. 138-40. Print.

United States of America. United States Marine Corp. FMFM1: Warfighting. By Captain John Schmitt and General Alfred M. Gray. Clausewitz.com. Web. 3 May 2011. .


  1. Do you have a thesis here, or are these just your notes?

  2. Thank you for reading my blog Shanna!

    Fair question.

    The last third of the 1st paragraph is intended to be thesis, from "This paper argues..." to the end of the paragraph.

    Sorry if that was confusing, and I hope that clears things up.

    And thank you for reading my post.

  3. I thought as much, but there's a lack of agency throughout that made me wonder why you weren't naming names. Bonnie Prince Charlie and Napoleon, yes, but you speak of the army and navy as if they were autonomous beings. It would be a much more compelling article if you named some agents. And perhaps offered some counterarguments.

    I enjoyed it, though. I knew in a vague way that British foreign policy ensured their ascendency throughout the era, but to hear it slanted using Marine Corp doctrine was a very interesting take, thank you.

    Is this paper already submitted?

  4. This response has been broken up into 2 parts

    Part 1:


    Wow! Thank you for the thoughtful comment! I honestly did not expect anyone to actually read this post, much less comment on it, so thank you for taking an interest!

    I was trying to push myself with this paper, to go beyond my comfort zone, and go beyond my peers' efforts for that matter, so I do accept I may have made many errors.

    I'll try to answer you as best I can.

    I will first explain some assumptions I made about my audience, and then address your criticism.

    I recognize I had written this for an audience with a certain amount of knowledge that would be redundant if I stated it; I made certain assumptions about my audience's knowledge of the economic history.

    Some of those assumptions

    1. I am concerned not just with British ascendancy, but BRITISH INDUSTRIALIZATION. Specifically, why did the Industrial Revolution come to Britain rather than France.

    I argue that because of Hanoverian policy of reducing domestic friction and increasing friction for Britain's enemies, it helped set the preconditions to British industrialization,

    My paper concentrates on France and Britain, but it is even more compelling to ask why not the Netherlands, or Asia.

    This may be a flaw in my paper, if that was not clear.

    2. Did you study history or economics in university? I get the feeling you probably did study one of them.

    This was intended as ECONOMIC history where larger forces of history and economics are the concentration.

    Many factors are traditionally ignored, especially by hard-core economists, such culture and individual human actors.

    These culture and individuals are considerations for historians, but it really depends on who the historian is, and even then the focus tends to be on more impersonal forces.

    Indeed, my own professor has accused me in the past of basing my arguments on fuzzy cultural arguments.

    My professor's claim to fame is utilizing hard-core empirical data and statistical analysis to explain economic phenomena.

    However, as I am writing as an historian, I am willing to give individual human actors and culture a little more consideration.

    Still, my focus is on broader historical dynamics that can be abstracted and analyzed.

    On a related note, economic historians tend to shy from analyzing power projection, which is one criticism my professor gave about my thesis. We'll have to see if my gamble worked.

  5. Part 2 of 2:

    Your criticism and my response:

    1. Lack of agency

    I assume you mean human agency.

    As I stated above, my intent was to concentrate on the broader trends of history rather than individual human actors, specifically Hanoverian military policy's decreasing of domestic friction and increasing of friction abroad, primarily in France.

    I am more interested in human agency as a collective historical dynamic.

    As such, the army and navy are interpreted as individual factors, with the purpose of pursuing Hanoverian policy objectives; individual human actors are irrelevant in this analysis.

    However, I intended to describe the army and navy as a tool of Hanoverian policy, not as autonomous forces.

    Even Napoleon and Bonnie Prince Charles Stuart are only symbols of a greater collective historical dynamic (Jacobite opposition the Hanoverian Policy or the French Revolution).

    Collective historical forces that can be abstracted and analyzed.

    2. lack of counterarguments

    This is fair criticism.

    I can only say it was outside the scope of my relatively short paper, which I recognize as insufficient.

    I can, however, provide some counterarguments off the top of my head, and my answers to them:

    A. Why didn't Spain or Portugal have an industrial revolution, as they both divided the world into large empires.

    I know this has been written about, and I think this is outside the scope of my paper.

    B. What of French military power? Afterall, they had the largest army in Europe.

    One thought that comes to mind to be explored: the difference between an island nation with a strong navy, being relatively safe versus a continental power with an army.

    C. I know I made a lot about British use of mercenaries. But this was quite common in this time.

    I would argue that it was the combination of being a safe island nation, protected by the strongest navy in existence at the time; their use of mercenaries was either offensive or protecting outposts on the continent; they never used mercenaries to defend from invasion.

    D. I think one tough counterargument would have to be the effects of warfare on economic growth.

    Crouzet shows that in spite of France's conflicts and warfare, its economic growth matched Britain's; it is just that France's economy had a terrible 17th century which put it behind England. In addition, Britain's minor advantages gained a critical mass that led to a take off of its industry.

    In fact, Crouzet nearly argues that an Industrial Revolution would have occurred in France had France not experienced the French Revolution.

    I answer that Hanoverian policy was an important factor in those minor differences between France and England that led to, what Crouzet calls, critical mass that jump started the intense growth of British industry.

    I would also answer that new research from after Crouzet's article shows that the British Industrial revolution wasn't as revolutionary as was once thought, but was actually rather gradual.

    Concluding remarks

    Thank you for reading my post!

    I'm glad you thought my use of the Warfighting manual interesting.

    I thought it was rather clever beginning my paper with Marine Corps doctrine. Interestingly, their Warfighting manual can be read as a concise distillation of many of von Clausewitz's ideas, hence why I use both the Warfighting manual and Vom Kriege to define "friction."

    As I said, I accept that this is an imperfect essay, as I was trying to go be a little more creative and push beyond my limits and those of my peers.

    You have to crack some eggs to make an omelet.

    I hope you find this response sufficient.

    Aaron Fung

  6. Very sufficient, thank you. It's interesting how things play out in history, isn't it? Britain had unrest, as well, and there are substantial weaknesses to an island nation, which would have become apparent when the industrial revolution gained momentum: foodstuffs. As more and more of the workforce went to factories, crops could have become a critical issue-- and yet it didn't (quite).

    I remember writing a paper in uni on how the ideals of the American revolution caused the French revolution because all the young nobles tacitly supported the idea of a meritocracy, realizing too late that the pendulum swings both ways. It was a rather cheeky paper, as I recall.

    If you read Neetch and von Clausewitz, have you tried Sun Tzu and Miamoto Musashi? And don't forget Machiavelli. I like him a lot better for tactics than strategy, and I don't like him at all for diplomacy, but his notes on dealing with enemies are insightful

    Also, you need a subscribe to comments button so I don't get busy and forget about our conversation. It's pretty interesting.

  7. Musta missed Part One. Yes, I studied history. Specifically, I was interested in Historical Socio-Linguistics, how semiotics shaped language, which shaped culture, which shaped history. The interplay between language, culture and semiotics is fascinating, but unfortunately has very little real-world application, except in diplomacy, perhaps. I mean semiotics not only in terms of cultural lore, tropes, schemas and other forms of self-identification, but also in terms of figurative language which are so deeply embedded in the language (for instance, you know your car "runs" but I'll bet it rarely occurs to you that it does not *actually* perambulate) that they unconsciously form associations that are not present in other cultures.

    The fact that this is intended as an economic paper clears up many perceived weaknesses. Please forgive my criticisms.

    I am fairly uncomfortable with your professor's position. His positions based on statistical data are no doubt unassailable, but many an unassailable conclusion fails in the face of reality; such is the legacy of the Sophists.

    Cultural arguments are indeed fuzzy, but the actions of people *must* be interpreted as those of people, with human motivations and drives, and as far as I'm concerned, economic theory is too simplistic. But. That's as may be.

    I like your counterarguments. I sympathize with your inability to be properly thorough. The shorter the paper, the smaller I made my thesis, but, then, I did have a tendency myself towards "making the weaker argument the stronger", which requires quite a few more words than when you don't have to break down assumptions.

    You could argue that England, being an island, had more resources per square mile. Basically, their overhead is lower. All other things being equal, (assuming that none of the colonies were an economic drain) England did not have to spread its resources as thin as any other European country. Except the Low Countries, I suppose, but you could argue with them that they weren't large enough to get to critical mass. France is massive, Spain only slightly less so, and furthermore, I'll bet you could make the argument that shifting from Catholicism to Protestantism not only introduced a very sober, industrious work-ethic, but streamlined institutional bureaucracy somewhat. But, again, you slide into cultural factors.

    I do think Crouzet is right that France would have been right on Britain's coattails if not for the Revolution.

    If you're looking for a nice place to hang out, I'll recommend another blog. The author is one of my close friends, but I trust that hasn't made me too biased. theonetrueblog.blogspot.com.
    If you are as thoughtful there as you are here, you will be very welcome. The post on argumentative theory on Sunday might be of interest to you.

    Enjoying our exchange, thank you.

  8. Shanna, this is becoming quite a discussion. I'm finding it very stimulating. Thank you for reading!

    BTW. you aren't the Shanna that is following me on twitter, are you?

    Your comments made me think of 8 points:

    1. You studied Semiotics? I have at best a cursory knowledge of it, as Ferdinand de Saussare has come up in my studies, mostly his signifier and signified.

    On a slightly less academic level, I have studied a few languages and can understand your point about figurative speech being embedded in language. For example, in Gaelic languages (I took a semester of Welsh) it always seems stuff happens to you, rather than you actually being an active agent in the world. Similarly, Russian does not really have a good word for "boyfriend/girlfriend" as until recently there were only "suitors". Now that gives a slightly different bias to dating. :-)

    To be fair, Russian has adopted the English word so “boyfriend” is now “boifrind.”

  9. 2. On the point of the population migrating to factory work. Actually, the agricultural sector experienced an equal, if not greater, rate of growth than industry. This is among the reasons the term "Industrial Revolution" is not taken as seriously as it once was; much of the economic growth in the British economy was NOT in industry. Of course, many have argued that, although this is true, the important innovations occurred in industry that would eventually become key to Britain's economic growth in the 19th century.

    3. I'm not certain I could argue Britain had more resources per square foot than others.

    The is a very involved debate, and I could point you to relevant scholarship, if you are interested.

    Interesting you bring up the Low Countries, as my one of my professor's claims to fame is describing the Low Countries, specifically why the Netherlands failed to industrialize in spite of the fact that it was in many ways AHEAD of Britain (higher wages, democratic institutions of a republic, highly developed capitalist economy, energy resources, capital resources such as the first investment banks, strong commercial trade, etc).

    In many ways, the Netherlands is actually more modern than Britain. And that is actually a large part of Professor De Vries's thesis: the Netherlands was the first modern economy, but not the first industrial economy.

    What this means is that a nation could industrialize without many of the attributes that had previously been thought necessary to be modern (supportive institutions, democracy, capitalism, etc). Modern examples would be the USSR, and perhaps contemporary China.

    4. I have read Sun Tzu and Machiavelli. I read the Prince long ago, in high school, so I don't remember it too well. Sun Tzu I think complements Clausewitz; where von Clausewitz defines and creates a philosophy of war, Sun Tzu is in many ways more actionable.

    For example, the Marine Corps' Warfighting manual combine's Clausewitz's Center of Gravity (schwerpunkt) with Sun Tzu's Critical Vulnerabilities (Sun Tzu's phrase is "[be like water and] avoid strength, attack weakness.")

    However, I have yet to read Musashi.
    . .

    5. The ideals of the American Revolution were Enlightenment ideals, many of them originally penned by French nobles. Professor Hesse explains it as folks ready for the new economic system (including nobles) versus supporters of the economic system of the Ancien Regime.

    On a related note, Professor Hesse has written a book about how the American Revolution was actually bloodier than the French Revolution; the French had better propagandists (Jacque-Louis David for example) and played up each high profile execution (they killed a king!).

    6. Shifting from Catholicism to Protestantism and the protestant work ethic. This interpretation used to be very popular after Max Weber wrote about it.

    Again, fuzzy cultural interpretations, and often contain a tinge of British jingoism; this theory has fallen out of favor, probably for better reasons than that. One would be that the link between Protestantism and industrialization is tenuous at best.

    And again, why Britain and not protestant Netherlands, or Lutheran Prussia?

    Indeed, I would argue this is an example of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

    8. I think that "subscribe by email" link below may be a link to subscribe to comments, but I'm not certain.

    Yea, I think I may migrate my blog over to wordpress and get all those fancy widgets.

    Thank you for the link to your friend's blog. From what I've seen so far it looks interesting.

    And thank you for reading and taking the time to comment! I really appreciate it.

    Aaron Fung

  10. PS. I forgot to mention, I will be posting a cultural interpretation of the causes of the Industrial Revolution soon, with a different take on British industrialization than this post.

  11. Yes, that is me on twitter. I saw you at Havi's site and followed you home. I daresay you got a very different impression of me there than you did here.:)

    At any rate, you mustn't consider me any kind of an expert at linguistics-- I said it was my area of interest, not expertise. I left university before the final year of my degree. That's another story altogether. So it's kind of you to suggest extra reading, but I find it very difficult to get my hands on scholarly works. Science blogs are going a long way toward scratching that itch, but to really explore things you either need 80 pages, or three people and an equal or greater number of wine bottles....

    I had some friends come to visit me last weekend and it was nice to talk about neurobiology and tyrannosaur group dynamics and autodidactism and self-directed learning.

    Funny you should mention the PHEPH fallacy; I was thinking the other day that all historical studies began from that point, from which we attempted to justify our conclusions. But it's more of a fun little puzzle for a rainy afternoon, not one worthy of actually deconstructing.

    I have been enjoying our discussions, so you don't have to keep thanking me :) Its lonely and boring the first few months of blogging. In fact, the Vile Scribbler found ME in the nascent days of my own blog, and knowing he would read it made my writing much stronger.

    Can't wait to see your new paper. If you'd like to visit more in depth, you can email me as well. See you around...

  12. oh, excellent. Subscribing does subscribe me to comments. Now you know for sure.

  13. Interesting you mention self directed learning and autodidactism, as I've been thinking of this subject. It seems we are all autodidacts to some extent, and I think it is important to learn more effectively on our own.

    I'm not certain I would agree that historical study necessarily begins from the post hoc fallacy; it depends on your methods.

    One could begin with a thesis and support it with evidence. This may be in danger of the post hoc fallacy.

    However, one could begin instead with empirical data, or other evidence, and proceed from there.

    I'd say a greater danger to historical studies is the fallacy of composition and division; is this anecdote representative of the group, and is this collective generalization (about say about the "average" subject of the king of France) valid?

    The post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy is an obstacle in most academic fields, hence the scientific idiom correlation is not causation.

    This is the purpose of the scientific method; to correct for the post hoc fallacy.

    Similarly in history, there are methods, albeit less scientific, that correct for such fallacious reasoning.

    However, the study of history is not science (none of the "social sciences" are) and therefore must necessarily have less stringent logical requirements.


Please email me at aaronfung.contact@gmail.com