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Admiralty. The relationship of a highly skilled professional service with civilian control is bound to be difficult. With the navy, problems were multiplied by the very high cost of building and maintaining a fleet, which caused acute tensions when the era of the dreadnoughts coincided in the 1900s with demands for democratic welfare provision; together with the fact that until recently communications were so difficult that great discretion had to be allowed to the man on the spot. In 1798, before the critical battle of the Nile, the cabinet did not know where Nelson's fleet was in the Mediterranean, and Nelson did not know where Napoleon was.

Until a permanent royal navy came into being, organization did not need to be elaborate. A commander was appointed for the campaign, after which most of the vessels, being converted merchantmen, returned to their home ports. The first admirals were appointed in the late 13th cent., and in the 14th the custom grew up of naming one to command north of the Thames, one for the south and west. But Henry VIII made a considerable effort to strengthen naval power. In 1540 Lord Bedford was named lord admiral and in 1545 a Council for Marine Causes was established—the genesis of the Navy Board, the four commissioners having specified duties and fixed salaries. Buckingham, Charles I's favourite, was made lord high admiral and after his murder in 1628 the office was put into commission, largely to save money. This arrangement, with a 1st lord of the Admiralty, became permanent after 1708. Only between 1827 and 1828 was the office of lord high admiral revived, for the duke of Clarence (the future William IV), and the experiment was not an unmitigated success. The growing importance of the navy in the 17th cent. was underlined by the fact that the lord high admiralship was taken at the highest level—by James, duke of York, 1660–73, Charles II himself 1673–84, and Anne's husband, Prince George of Denmark, 1702–8. In 1673–9 the 1st lord was Prince Rupert, cousin to the king: it is understandable that when, in 1877, the post went to W. H. Smith, eyebrows were raised.

The Navy Board took responsibility for administration and implementation, the Admiralty Board for appointments and strategy. Though a recipe for friction, this dual system survived for two centuries and presided over some of the navy's most glorious victories. The fleet to which Charles I had devoted considerable care deserted him at the Civil War. The Commonwealth regime abolished both boards, but found it necessary to replace them with commissioners of the Admiralty and naval commissioners, under whom the navy, particularly with Blake's leadership, acquitted itself well. Charles II in 1660 restored the old order and was fortunate enough to find in Samuel Pepys a remarkably capable civil servant, first as clerk of the acts and then as secretary to the Board of Admiralty. The same efficiency was scarcely maintained in the 18th cent. and the great victories were won more by tactics, morale, and personnel than by administration. Since the 1st lord was always a politician, often with no experience of the sea, professional naval advice came from a 1st sea lord, under a variety of names.

The dual system came to an end in 1832, again partly as a measure of economy, when Sir James Graham brought the Navy Board into the Admiralty structure and redefined channels of responsibility.

In the 20th cent. the degree of autonomy built up by the Admiralty was weakened by a number of factors—spiralling cost, an acceleration of technological change, and, not least, after 1945, by the remarkable shrinking of the navy itself. Winston Churchill as 1st lord and Fisher as 1st sea lord both convulsed and improved the navy before 1914. In 1931, for the first time since 1709, the 1st lord was briefly not a member of the cabinet, and in 1964, after a great run-down of the navy in the wake of the Second World War, the post of 1st lord was discontinued. In a unified Ministry of Defence the spokesman for the navy was the chief of naval staff and 1st sea lord. Ironically, the grandiose Admiralty Arch was completed in 1911, when the first challenge to British naval supremacy was becoming apparent.

David Denis Aldridge; and Professor J. A. Cannon


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From the beginning, St. Petersburg's docks and associated administrative building, collectively known as the Admiralty, had been an essential part of the city's existence. The shipyard was built by Peter the Great in 1704, and in the 1730s Ivan Korobov added the central gate and golden spire. By 1806 plans submitted by Andreian Zakharov for reconstruction of the large, and by then, decrepit complex had been approved. Zakharov had attended the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg and studied extensively in France and Italy. Although he died in 1811, long before the completion of the building in 1823, no significant changes were made in his design.

In reconstructing Korobov's partially destroyed Admiralty, Zakharov expanded the length of the facade from 300 meters to 375. In addition there were two perpendicular wings almost half that long extending to the river. From the perspective of the Neva River, the complex consisted of two pishaped buildings, one within the other. The inner building served the Admiralty dockyard, which it enclosed on three sides, while the outer contained

administrative offices. The Admiralty end-blocks, facing the Neva River, are among the most successful neoclassical attempts to achieve a geometric purity of structure.

The main facade, overlooking a large square (now a park), is marked in the center by a grand arch, flanked by statues of nymphs supporting a globe, sculpted by Feodosy Shchedrin. Above the arch, a sculpted frieze portrays Neptune handing Peter the Great the trident, symbol of power over the seas. The corners of the central tower support statues of Alexander the Great, Ajax, Achilles, and Pyrrhus. The tower culminates in a spire resting on an Ionic peristyle, the cornice of which supports twenty-eight allegorical and mythological statues representing the seasons, the elements, and the winds.

The remarkable power of the Admiralty building derives from Zakharov's ability to create visual accents for an immensely long facade. The simplicity of the surfaces provided the ideal background for large, rusticated arches and high-relief sculpture, thus converting a prosaic structure into a noble monument.

See also: architecture; st. petersburg


Brumfield, William Craft. (1993). A History of Russian Architecture. New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hamilton, George Heard. (1975). The Art and Architecture of Russia. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books.

William Craft Brumfield


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ad·mi·ral·ty / ˈadmərəltē/ • n. (pl. -ties) 1. the rank or office of an admiral.2. Law the jurisdiction of courts of law over cases concerning ships or the sea and other navigable waters (maritime law).3. (Admiralty) the department of the British government that once administered the Royal Navy.