England's chief pride and interest, of course, lay in her navy. The royal navy has probably enjoyed a longer record of power and success than any other fighting organization in history except the Roman army. England maintained it on a two-power basis, ordinarily keeping it as large as the combined forces of the French and Spanish Bourbons, who might always be expected to join forces. It consisted during the eighteenth century of three or four hundred vessels, about a hundred of which belonged to the important category known as ships-of-the-line or line-of-battle ships Counterparts of our modern battleships, they were used in squadrons or fleets to fight the major battles.
(from A History of England and the British Empire)