The War between Britain and France
In the late eighteenth century, battles raged in almost every corner of Europe, as well as in the Middle East, South Africa, the West Indies, and Latin America. In reality, however, there was only one major war during this time, the war between Britain and France. All other battles were ancillary to this larger conflict, and were often at least partially related to its antagonists' goals and strategies.
France sought total domination of Europe. This goal was obstructed by British independence and Britain's efforts throughout the continent to thwart Napoleon; through treaties, Britain built coalitions (not dissimilar in concept to today's NATO) guaranteeing British participation in all major European conflicts. These two antagonists were poorly matched, insofar as they had very unequal strengths: France was predominant on land, Britain at sea. The French knew that, short of defeating the British navy, their only hope of victory was to close all the ports of Europe to British ships.
Accordingly, France set out to overcome Britain by extending its military domination from Moscow to Lisbon, from Jutland to Calabria. All of this entailed tremendous risk, because France did not have the military resources to control this much territory and still protect itself and maintain order at home.
French strategists calculated that a navy of 150 ships would provide the force necessary to defeat the British navy. Such a force would give France a three-to-two advantage over Britain. This advantage was deemed necessary because of Britain's superior sea skills and technology, and also because Britain would be fighting a defensive war, allowing it to win with fewer forces. Napoleon never lost sight of his goal, because Britain represented the last substantial impediment to his control of Europe. As his force neared that goal, Napoleon grew increasingly impatient and began planning an immediate attack.
法国战略家们的算盘是，其海军若拥有150艘军舰，则将足以击跨英国海军。 这样的武力将使法国对英国具有3比2的优势。 这种优势被认为是必不可少的，因为英国人具有超群的海上技能和技术，并且打的是一场防御战争，使它能以少胜多。 拿破仑从未忘却他的目标，因为英国是他统治全欧的最后一个重大的障碍。 随着他的力量越来越靠近这个目标，拿破仑变得越来越不耐烦起来，开始策划立即攻击。