Caribbean: The Changing Tide of War

Captains, you will notice that in the game ships of different nations are constantly battling each other out in the open sea. This captures the political mood in the Caribbean during the time frame of the game – 1770s-1840s- where the political conflicts in Europe impacted upon the colonies in the West Indies and North America. During the game’s time period, the United States’ navy was still in the process of its early development, but the other European powers were in the region in full force.

To re-cap the shifts that took place, consider how these conflicts affected the alliances that were already in place then:
From 1775 to 1783 the American War of Independence was a key variable factor that contributed to changes in alliances: Britain was at war with its colonies in North America, but in 1778 France officially declared that it would support the Americans and send troops to aid the American revolutionary army. In 1779 Spain joined in the fray as well; and in 1780 Holland declared its support for the American revolutionaries too. Britain, therefore, found herself fighting not only the Americans but also France, Spain and Holland.

Following the American War of Independence, the next major trauma that impacted upon political life in the Caribbean was the French revolution: After the execution of France’s King Louis XVI (1793), the whole of Europe declared war against revolutionary France,for fear that revolutionary republicanism might overthrow the other monarchies in Europe; and it was France’s turn to be isolated. During the beginning of the revolutionary wars France was battling against the navies of Britain, Spain and Holland – not only in Europe, but all over the world, including the Caribbean theater of war. (There was then the additional worry that French republicanism might inspire the slaves in the Caribbean to rise up- I will add a note on this later…)

But then with the early success of the French revolutionary army and the rise of Napoleon, much of Western Europe would later become part of Napoleon’s European empire, and so alliances changed, yet again: Spain and Holland would eventually become part of the French empire, and it was Britain’s turn to fight alone, against the combined armies and navies of France, Holland and Spain.

So while sailing in the Caribbean, dear captains, don’t forget that you are living and playing in a world that was fraught with danger, political intrigue and suspense. The fate of those living in the Caribbean then was closely tied to the political developments taking place in Europe thousands of miles away, and this was proof that ‚globalisation’ was already a reality long before the word ‚globalisation’ became trendy, as it is today. Enjoy sailing Captains!


(Image: The Battle of Trafalgar, by Louis-Philippe Crepin. Source: open media)