During the course of the 18th and 19th centuries the British Navy took an age old method of manipulating and dominating an enemy, the naval blockade, and perfected it. The blockade was going to be used by a generation of admirals, captains, and crews in a way that would cause pain, financially, physically and psychologically, on a large swath of the western world, much of it specifically centered on ensuring that Napoleon and his aggressively expansionist France would pay too dear a price if they tried to move off of the European mainland. The British Navy and their continued use of blockades throughout the 18th and into the 19th centuries showed the development of naval power on a scale that had never been witnessed, with entire fleets essentially set upon European harbors in order to ensure that French, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, and other potential enemy ships could not form a united front against the Royal Navy, nor could they threaten British territory, at least directly. As a tit for tat struggle developed between the continent and Britain, this blockade expanded from strictly military in nature and started to include commerce ships as well, initially from belligerents, and finally expanding to any ship that was thought to be doing business with France or one of its subordinates.
Janora, John J.
"Analysis Considering the Significance of the Use of Naval Blockades During the Napoleonic Wars,"
The Exposition: Vol. 5
, Article 1.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.buffalostate.edu/exposition/vol5/iss1/1