Map from a collection of material relating to the fear of a French invasion


This map was published the early years of the 19th century and depicts the districts of civil defence that were drawn up to counter the threat of a French invasion. The counties of England are shown grouped together into military regions and distances from English ports to the site of the ‘enemy flotilla’ are clearly shown.

The prospect of invasion by Napoleonic forces was the cause of popular alarm among the British in the early 1800s, whipped up by the dozens of tracts, pamphlets and illustrations depicting the horrors of French rule. The British government responded by quashing internal political dissent, implementing laws designed to restrict the activities of political radicals by outlawing seditious writing. This legislation was complemented by a range of ambitious engineering works designed to fortify the English coastline against French attack. Large fortified ‘Martello Towers’ were built at regular intervals along the coastline to protect the southern counties from enemy action. They were manned by volunteer forces which, by 1800, numbered some 400,000 men.

Full title:
A map intended to illustrate the threatened invasion of England by Bonaparte from [Loyal and patriotic hand-bills, songs, addresses, etc. on the threatened invasion of Great Britain by Buonaparte.]
estimated 1803, probably London
Map / Print / Image
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

Related articles

The fear of invasion

Article by:
Mike Ashley
Visions of the future

In the 19th century, the British feared invasion by the French, terrorists and even aliens. Mike Ashley explains how these concerns were reflected in literature.

The impact of the French Revolution in Britain

Article by:
Ruth Mather
Power and politics

Ruth Mather considers how Britain's intellectual, political and creative circles responded to the French Revolution.

Fire and the sword

Article by:
James Elliot
Town and city, Transforming topography

James Elliot discusses town and city maps from the 17th to the 19th century, and the ways in which they reflect the issues of urban growth.

Related collection items