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There was a ‘standing Navy’ in Tudor times, whereas the Army was an occasional thing, dating back from the ‘feudal levies’, which were bands of trained soldiers brought to the Sovereign’s service as occasion dictated by the barons and knights of the realm. This is the theory behind why ‘the Navy is the Senior Service.’

The history of the British Army spans over three and a half centuries and numerous European wars, colonial wars and world wars. From the late 17th century until the mid-20th century, the United Kingdom was the greatest economic and imperial power in the world, and although this dominance was principally achieved through the strength of the British Royal Navy, the British Army played a significant role.
In peacetime, Britain has generally maintained only a small professional volunteer army, expanding this as required in time of
war, due to Britain's traditional role as a sea power. Since the suppression of Jacobitism in 1745, the army has played little role in British domestic politics (except for the Curragh mutiny), and, other than in Ireland, has seldom been deployed against internal threats to the state (one notorious exception being the Peterloo Massacre).
The fencibles (from the word defencible) were British Army regiments raised in the United Kingdom and in the colonies for defence against the threat of invasion during the Seven Years' War, the American War of Independence and French Revolutionary Wars in the late 18th century. Usually temporary units, composed of local volunteers, commanded by Regular Army officers, their role was, as their name suggests, usually confined to garrison and patrol duties, freeing the regular Army units to perform offensive operations.

The Army has been involved in many global international conflicts, including the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War and the two World Wars. Historically, it contributed to the expansion and retention of the British Empire.

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