Two Brothers, a Nation in Crisis, a World at War
David Rutland & Emma Ellis
Based upon the detailed archives held at Belvoir Castle, and drawing on a wealth of primary research, RESOLUTION charts the lives and fortunes of two eighteenth-century aristocratic brothers – Charles and Robert Manners, orphaned sons of the Marquis of Granby and grandsons of the 3rd Duke of Rutland – against a backdrop of the American War of Independence and the political crises that attended that conflict.
Charles’s life follows the preordained course of the older son waiting to inherit, but after Cambridge he risks being considered treasonable and aligns himself with the Whig aristocrats who oppose the war with America. He inherited the dukedom in 1779 and later became Viceroy of Ireland before his claret-fuelled death in 1787.
His younger brother Robert enlists in the Royal Navy and takes part in all the major sea battles of the war. His dogged pursuit of promotion in the face of Admiralty opposition finally bears fruit when he is made captain of His Majesty’s ship Resolution in 1780. The pushy young aristocrat proves to be a respected leader – courageous, honourably ambitious, but always mindful of the welfare of his men. He will not live to enjoy his prize-money, however. He is wounded at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782 as the Royal Navy fights to protect Britain’s Caribbean ‘sugar islands’; and the tetanus that follows takes his life.
RESOLUTION offers the readers the dual pleasure of an atmospherically evoked account of life aboard ship in the eighteenth-century navy, alongside a convincing portrayal of the machinations of British politics at a time of war and national crisis. But it also offers an intimate portrait of the joys, griefs, feuds and pressures of a Georgian aristocratic family wrestling with the critical importance of reputation; the need to preserve the dynasty; the challenge of competing expectations; and the critical role of patronage. And, last but not least, an extraordinary cast of characters drawn from the great and the good of the era – Fox, Chatham, Burke, Sandwich, Pitt the Younger and Wilkes to name but a few – provides a colourful panorama of the world of Georgian high politics.
Signed copies of RESOLUTION will be available via www.belvoircastle.com from 6 April 2017.