British History/The Continental System
What was the continental system? How did the British face it and how did they survive?
The Continental System was an attempt by the Emperor Napoleon to cripple British trade by blockade. In a decree issued in November 1806 he ordered all countries, not only France's allies but neutrals too, to cease trade with GB and her colonies. The intention was to use his navy to enforce the blockade. But this is where he came to grief. The British responded by authorising a counter-blockade and as the Royal Navy had command of the seas it was able to enforce it whereas the French did not have the ships or manpower to enforce their own blockade. In attempting to enforce it the French expended large sums of money, men and effort all to no avail. Trade with GB continued virtually unaffected whilst French trade collapsed.