Elizabethan Sea-Dogs: A Chronicle of Drake and His Companions

Overview

Elizabethan Sea-Dogs
A Chronicle of Drake and His Companions

Life Afloat in Tudor Times

By William Wood

In the sixteenth century there was no hard-and-fast distinction between naval and all other craft. The sovereign had his own fighting vessels; and in the course of the seventeenth century these gradually evolved into a Royal Navy maintained entirely by the country as a ...

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Elizabethan Sea-Dogs (Barnes & Noble Digital Library): A Chronicle of Drake and His Companions

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Overview

Elizabethan Sea-Dogs
A Chronicle of Drake and His Companions

Life Afloat in Tudor Times

By William Wood

In the sixteenth century there was no hard-and-fast distinction between naval and all other craft. The sovereign had his own fighting vessels; and in the course of the seventeenth century these gradually evolved into a Royal Navy maintained entirely by the country as a whole and devoted solely to the national defence. But in earlier days this modern system was difficult everywhere and impossible in England. The English monarch, for all his power, had no means of keeping up a great army and navy without the help of Parliament and the general consent of the people. The Crown had great estates and revenues; but nothing like enough to make war on a national scale. Consequently king and people went into partnership, sometimes in peace as well as war. When fighting stopped, and no danger seemed to threaten, the king would use his men-of-war in trade himself, or even hire them out to merchants. The merchants, for their part, furnished vessels to the king in time of war. Except as supply ships, however, these auxiliaries were never a great success. The privateers built expressly for fighting were the only ships that could approach the men-of-war.

Yet, strangely enough, King Henry's first modern men-of-war grew out of a merchant-ship model, and a foreign one at that. Throughout ancient and medieval times the 'long ship' was the man-of-war while the 'round ship' was the merchantman. But the long ship was always some sort of galley, which, as we have seen repeatedly, depended on its oars and used sails only occasionally, and then not in action, while the round ship was built to carry cargo and to go under sail. The Italian naval architects, then the most scientific in the world, were trying to evolve two types of vessel: one that could act as light cavalry on the wings of a galley fleet, the other that could carry big cargoes safely through the pirate-haunted seas. In both types sail power and fighting power were essential. Finally a compromise resulted and the galleasse appeared. The galleasse was a hybrid between the galley and the sailing vessel, between the 'long ship' that was several times as long as it was broad and the 'round ship' that was only two or three times as long as its beam. Then, as the oceanic routes gained on those of the inland seas, and as oceanic sea power gained in the same proportion, the galleon appeared. The galleon had no oars at all, as the hybrid galleasses had, and it gained more in sail power than it lost by dropping oars. It was, in fact, the direct progenitor of the old three-decker which some people still alive can well remember.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781496107886
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication date: 2/28/2014
  • Pages: 134
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.29 (d)

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