Historic Allies and Enemies of Great Britain

Since the Act of Union in 1707, the Kingdom of Great Britain has fought in over 120 wars across a total of 170 countries…

Since the Act of Union in 1707, the Kingdom of Great Britain has fought in over 120 wars across a total of 170 countries. With over 300 years of conflict to look back upon, we’ve decided to crunch the numbers and work out who – historically, of course – are Britain’s traditional friends and foes!

There are a few things to note before we get into the figures. First of all, our data starts from The Great Northern War which although started in 1700 still reflects the first war fought by a united Great Britain.

We have included all major wars from this point, even taking into account the infamous Pig War of 1859, but leaving out the Libyan Intervention of 2011 due to both its multilateral UN resolution and the fact that no ground troops were deployed.

The first map (below) shows the historical allies of Great Britain, perhaps surprisingly showing France as a key ally in a total of 18 wars.

The Historic Allies of Great Britain


The second map shows the historical enemies of Great Britain, again with France taking the top spot with a total of 20 conflicts. Please note that we have excluded World War 2 from Austria’s total due to the fact that it had already been incorporated into the Third Reich in 1938.

The Historic Enemies of Great Britain


For reference purposes, we have included our full breakdown below. Due to ever-shifting country borders we have also included a set of notes to help you understand how we have broken down the data.

Allied Enemy Notes:
France 18 20
Spain 6 9
Netherlands 9 2 Including the Dutch Republic and the Netherlands
Sweden 3 3
Austria 8 1 Including Austra-Hungary, excluding WW2
Portugal 8 0
Russia 9 6 Including the Soviet Union
Ottoman Empire and Turkey 5 4
Germany 3 2 Post unification in 1871
United States 11 3 Including the Pig War of 1859
Canada 6 0 Including the Dominion of Canada, excluding British North America
Argentina 2 2
Brazil 3 0
Australia 6 0
China 1 4
Italy 8 1 Post unification in 1861
Greece 6 0
Belgium 4 0
New Zealand 5 0
Japan 5 1
Finland 0 1
Denmark 4 1 Includes Denmark-Norway

So, as the above figures reveal, Britain’s very best friends include Portugal, Canada, Greece, Australia and New Zealand, with never a cross word spoken… But what did we do to upset Finland? Nothing personal thank goodness; they simply turned to Nazi Germany for military muscle in order to avoid the aggressive overtures of their red neighbour – and our then ally in World War II – the Soviet Union.

Published: 31st January 2015.

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