By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Ancient and Modern Ships. - Part 1. Wooden Sailing Ships
Author: Holmes, George C. V.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ancient and Modern Ships. - Part 1. Wooden Sailing Ships" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.














  BY WYMAN AND SONS, Limited, Fetter Lane, E.C.


  To be purchased, either directly or through any Bookseller from
  WYMAN & SONS, Ltd., Fetter Lane, London, E.C.; or
  OLIVER AND BOYD, Edinburgh; or
  E. PONSONBY, 116, Grafton Street, Dublin;
  or on personal application
  at the Catalogue Stall, Victoria and Albert Museum, S.W

  Price One Shilling and Sixpence in Paper Wrapper, or
  Two Shillings and Threepence in Cloth.


An endeavour has been made in this handbook, as far as space and
scantiness of material would permit, to trace the history of the
development of wooden ships from the earliest times down to our own.
Unfortunately, the task has been exceedingly difficult; for the annals
of shipbuilding have been very badly kept down to a quite recent period,
and the statements made by old writers concerning ships are not only
meagre but often extremely inaccurate. Moreover, the drawings and
paintings of vessels which have survived from the classical period are
few and far between, and were made by artists who thought more of
pictorial effect than of accuracy of detail. Fortunately the carvings of
the ancient Egyptians were an exception to the above rule. Thanks to
their practice of recording and illustrating their history in one of the
most imperishable of materials we know more of their ships and maritime
expeditions than we do of those of any other people of antiquity. If
their draughtsmen were as conscientious in delineating their boats as
they were in their drawings of animals and buildings, we may accept the
illustrations of Egyptian vessels which have survived into our epoch as
being correct in their main features. The researches now being
systematically carried out in the Valley of the Nile add, year by year,
to our knowledge, and already we know enough to enable us to assert that
ship building is one of the oldest of human industries, and that there
probably existed a sea borne commerce in the Mediterranean long before
the building of the Pyramids.

Though the Phoenicians were the principal maritime people of antiquity
in the Mediterranean, we know next to nothing of their vessels. The same
may be said of the Greeks of the Archaic period. There is, however,
ground for hope that, with the progress of research, more may be
discovered concerning the earliest types of Greek vessels; for example,
during the past year, a vase of about the eighth century B.C. was found,
and on it is a representation of a bireme of the Archaic period of quite
exceptional interest. As the greater part of this handbook was already
in type when the vase was acquired by the British Museum, it has only
been possible to reproduce the representation in the Appendix. The
drawings of Greek merchant-ships and galleys on sixth and fifth-century
vases are merely pictures, which tell us but little that we really want
to know. If it had not been for the discovery, this century, that a
drain at the Piræus was partly constructed of marble slabs, on which
were engraved the inventories of the Athenian dockyards, we should know
but little of the Greek triremes of as late a period as the third
century B.C. We do not possess a single illustration of a Greek or Roman
trireme, excepting only a small one from Trajan's Column, which must not
be taken too seriously, as it is obviously pictorial, and was made a
century and a half after many-banked ships had gone out of fashion.

In the first eight centuries of our era records and illustrations of
ships continue to be extremely meagre. Owing to a comparatively recent
discovery we know something of Scandinavian boats. When we consider the
way in which the Norsemen overran the seaboard of Europe, it seems
probable that their types of vessels were dominant, at any rate in
Northern and Western European waters, from the tenth to the twelfth
century. From the time of the Norman Conquest down to the reign of Henry
VIII. we have to rely, for information about ships, upon occasional
notes by the old chroniclers, helped out by a few illustrations taken
from ancient corporate seals and from manuscripts. From the time of
Henry VIII., onwards, information about warships is much more abundant;
but, unfortunately, little is known of the merchant vessels of the
Tudor, Stuart, and early Hanoverian periods, and it has not been found
possible to trace the origin and development of the various types of
merchant sailing-ships now in existence.

The names of the authorities consulted have generally been given in the
text, or in footnotes. The author is indebted to Dr. Warre's article on
ships, in the last edition of the "Encyclopædia Britannica," and to Mr.
Cecil Torr's work, "Ancient Ships," for much information concerning
Greek and Roman galleys, and further to "The Royal Navy," a history by
Mr. W. Laird Clowes, and the "History of Marine Architecture" by
Charnock, for much relating to British warships down to the end of the
eighteenth century.

     _January, 1, 1900_.



  INTRODUCTION                                               1






  MEDIÆVAL SHIPS                                            65


  MODERN WOODEN SAILING-SHIPS                              112



  INDEX                                                    161


  FIG.                                                     PAGE

        B.C. _From Dêr-Bahari_                    _Frontispiece_

  2. THE OLDEST KNOWN SHIPS. ABOUT 6000 B.C.                 10




  6. BATTLESHIP OF RAMSES III. ABOUT 1200 B.C.               24

       Kouyunjik (Nineveh)_                                  27

  8. GREEK UNIREME. ABOUT 500 B.C.                           30

  9. GREEK BIREME. ABOUT 500 B.C.                            31

        DECK. ABOUT 550 B.C.                                 32

        600 B.C. _From an Etruscan imitation of a
        Greek vase_                                          34

  12. GREEK MERCHANT-SHIP. ABOUT 500 B.C.                    39

  13. ROMAN MERCHANT-SHIP                                    40

         GALLEYS                                             48


  16. ROMAN GALLEY. ABOUT 110 A.D.                           49


  18. STEM AND STERN ORNAMENTS OF GALLEYS                    52

  19. BOW OF ANCIENT WAR-GALLEY                              53

  20. BOW OF ANCIENT WAR-GALLEY                              54

  21. ANGLO-SAXON SHIP. ABOUT 900 A.D.                       57

  22-26. VIKING SHIP                                         60


  *28. SANDWICH SEAL. 1238                                   71

  *29. DOVER SEAL. 1284                                      72

  *30. POOLE SEAL. 1325                                      75

  31. VENETIAN GALLEY. FOURTEENTH CENTURY                    78

  32. CROSS-SECTION OF A VENETIAN GALLEON                    79

  33. VENETIAN GALLEON. 1564                                 80


  35. ENGLISH SHIP. TIME OF RICHARD II.                      81

  36. ENGLISH SHIP. TIME OF HENRY VI.                        83


  38. COLUMBUS' SHIP, THE "SANTA MARIA." 1492                87

  39. SAIL-PLAN OF THE "SANTA MARIA"                         88

  40. LINES OF THE "SANTA MARIA"                             91

  41. THE "HENRY GRACE À DIEU." 1514. _Pepysian Library,
        Cambridge_                                           93

  42. THE "HENRY GRACE À DIEU." _After Allen_                94

  43. GENOESE CARRACK. 1542                                  96

  44. SPANISH GALLEASS. 1588                                 97

  45. ENGLISH MAN-OF-WAR. ABOUT 1588                        102

  46. VENETIAN GALLEASS. 1571                               103

  47. THE "PRINCE ROYAL." 1610                              105

  48. THE "SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS." 1637                     109

  49. THE "ROYAL CHARLES." 1673                             113

  50. THE "SOLEIL ROYAL." 1683                              115

  51. THE "HOLLANDIA." 1683                                 116

  52. BRITISH SECOND-RATE. 1665                             119

        CENTURY                                             120

  54. THE "FALMOUTH." EAST INDIAMAN. LAUNCHED 1752          124

  55. THE "ROYAL GEORGE." 1746                              127

  56. THE "COMMERCE DE MARSEILLE. 1792                      130

  57. BRITISH FIRST-RATE. 1794                              132

  58.    "        "        "                                133

  59. HEAVY FRENCH FRIGATE OF 1780                          134

  60.       "      "     "                                  135

  61. THE "HOWE." 1815                                      136


  63.  "    "       "         "          "                  139

  64.  "    "       "         "          "                  140

  65.  THE "WATERLOO"                                       141

  66.  THE "QUEEN"                                          143

  *67. THE "THAMES." EAST INDIAMAN. 1819                    144

  *68. THE "THETIS." WEST INDIAMAN                          146

  *69. FREE-TRADE BARQUE                                    148

  ++70. THE "BAZAAR." AMERICAN COTTON-SHIP. 1832            149

          SAILING-PACKET. 1840                              151

  ++72. THE "OCEAN HERALD." AMERICAN CLIPPER. 1855          152

  ++73. THE "GREAT REPUBLIC." AMERICAN CLIPPER. 1853        154

  74. ARCHAIC GREEK BIREME. ABOUT 800 B.C.                  158

The illustrations marked * are published by kind permission of the
Committee of the Egypt Exploration Fund. Those marked + are taken from
"The History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce," and were kindly
lent by Messrs. Sampson Low, Marston & Co., Ltd. Those marked ++ are
reproduced from "La Marine Française de 1792 à nos jours," by l'Amiral






A museum relating to Naval Architecture and Shipbuilding is of the
utmost interest to the people of Great Britain, on account of the
importance to them of everything that bears on the carrying of their
commerce. Every Englishman knows, in a general way, that the commerce of
the British Empire is more extensive than that of any other state in the
world, and that the British sea-going mercantile marine compares
favourably in point of size even with that of all the other countries of
the world put together; but few are probably aware of the immense
importance to us of these fleets of trading ships, and of the great part
which they play in the maintenance of the prosperity of these isles. The
shipping industry ranks, after agriculture, as the largest of our
national commercial pursuits. There is more capital locked up in it, and
more hands are employed in the navigation and construction of ships,
their engines and fittings, than in any other trade of the country
excepting the tillage of the soil.

The following Table gives the relative figures of the merchant navies of
the principal states of the civilised world in the year 1898, and proves
at a glance the immense interest to our fellow countrymen of all that
affects the technical advancement of the various industries connected
with shipping:--


                        |   Total No. of    |   Total tonnage of
           Flag.        | steam and sailing | steam (gross) and of
                        |     vessels.      | sailing-vessels (net).
  United Kingdom        |      8,973        |      12,926,924
  Colonies              |      2,025        |       1,061,584
  Total                 |     10,998        |       13,988,508
                        |                   |
  United States of     }|                   |
  America, including   }|      3,010        |        2,465,387
  Great Lakes          }|                   |
                        |                   |
  Danish                |        796        |          511,958
  French                |      1,182        |        1,242,091
  German                |      1,676        |        2,453,334
  Italian               |      1,150        |          875,851
  Japanese              |        841        |          533,381
  Norwegian             |      2,528        |        1,694,230
  Russian               |      1,218        |          643,527
  Spanish               |        701        |          608,885
  Swedish               |      1,408        |          605,991
  All other             |                   |
    countries           |      2,672        |        2,050,385
  Total                 |     28,180        |       27,673,528

The part played by technical improvements in the maintenance of our
present position cannot be over-estimated; for that position, such as it
is, is not due to any inherent permanent advantages possessed by this
country. Time was when our mercantile marine was severely threatened by
competition from foreign states. To quote the most recent example, about
the middle of last century the United States of America fought a
well-contested struggle with us for the carrying trade of the world.
Shortly after the abolition of the navigation laws, the competition was
very severe, and United States ships had obtained almost exclusive
possession of the China trade, and of the trade between Europe and North
America, and in the year 1850 the total tonnage of the shipping of the
States was 3,535,434, against 4,232,960 tons owned by Great Britain. The
extraordinary progress in American mercantile shipbuilding was due, in
part, to special circumstances connected with their navigation laws, and
in part to the abundance and cheapness of excellent timber; but, even
with these advantages, the Americans would never have been able to run
such a close race with us for the carrying trade of the world, had it
not been for the great technical skill and intelligence of their
shipbuilders, who produced vessels which were the envy and admiration of
our own constructors. As a proof of this statement, it may be mentioned
that, the labour-saving mechanical contrivances adopted by the Americans
were such that, on board their famous liners and clippers, twenty men
could do the work which in a British ship of equal size required thirty,
and, in addition to this advantage, the American vessels could sail
faster and carry more cargo in proportion to their registered tonnage
than our own vessels. It was not till new life was infused into British
naval architecture that we were enabled to conquer the American
competition; and then it was only by producing still better examples of
the very class of ship which the Americans had been the means of
introducing, that we were eventually enabled to wrest from them the
China trade. Another triumph in the domain of technical shipbuilding,
viz., the introduction and successful development of the iron-screw
merchant steamer, eventually secured for the people of this country that
dominion of the seas which remains with them to this day.

Among the great means of advancing technical improvements, none takes
higher rank than a good educational museum; for it enables the student
to learn, as he otherwise cannot learn, the general course which
improvements have taken since the earliest times, and hence to
appreciate the direction which progress will inevitably take in the
future. Here he will learn, for instance, how difficulties have been
overcome in the past, and will be the better prepared to play his part
in overcoming those with which he, in his turn, will be confronted. In
such a museum he can study the advantages conferred upon the owner, by
the successive changes which have been effected in the materials,
construction, and the means of propulsion of ships. He can trace, for
instance, the effects of the change from wood to iron, and from iron to
steel, in the carrying capacity of ships, and he can note the effects of
successive improvements in the propelling machinery in saving weight and
space occupied by engines, boilers, and bunkers; and in conferring upon
a ship of a given size the power of making longer voyages. Here, too, he
can learn how it was that the American clipper supplanted the old
English sailing merchantman, and how the screw iron ship, fitted with
highly economical engines, has practically driven the clipper from the
seas. In fact, with the aid of a good museum the student is enabled to
take a bird's-eye view of the whole chain of progress, in which the
existing state of things constitutes but a link.

Signs are not wanting that the competition with which British shipowners
had to contend in the past will again become active in the near future.
The advantages conferred upon us by abundant supplies of iron and by
cheap labour will not last for ever. There are many who expect, not
without reason, that the abolition or even the diminution of protection
in the United States will, when it comes to pass, have the same
stimulating effect upon the American shipbuilding industry which the
abolition of the old navigation laws had upon our own; and when that day
comes Englishmen will find it an advantage to be able to enter the
contest equipped with the best attainable technical education and



It is not difficult to imagine how mankind first conceived the idea of
making use of floating structures to enable him to traverse stretches of
water. The trunk of a tree floating down a river may have given him his
first notions. He would not be long in discovering that the tree could
support more than its own weight without sinking. From the single trunk
to a raft, formed of several stems lashed together, the step would not
be a long one. Similarly, once it was noticed that a trunk, or log,
could carry more than its own weight and float, the idea would naturally
soon occur to any one to diminish the inherent weight of the log by
hollowing it out and thus increase its carrying capacity; the subsequent
improvements of shaping the underwater portion so as to make the
elementary boat handy, and to diminish its resistance in the water, and
of fitting up the interior so as to give facilities for navigating the
vessel and for accommodating in it human beings and goods, would all
come by degrees with experience. Even to the present day beautiful
specimens exist of such boats, or canoes, admirably formed out of
hollowed tree-trunks. They are made by many uncivilized peoples, such as
the islanders of the Pacific and some of the tribes of Central Africa.
Probably the earliest type of _built-up_ boat was made by stretching
skins on a frame. To this class belonged the coracle of the Ancient
Britons, which is even now in common use on the Atlantic seaboard of
Ireland. The transition from a raft to a flat-bottomed boat was a very
obvious improvement, and such vessels were probably the immediate
forerunners of ships.

It is usual to refer to Noah's ark as the oldest ship of which there is
any authentic record. Since, however, Egypt has been systematically
explored, pictures of vessels have been discovered immensely older than
the ark--that is to say, if the date usually assigned to the latter
(2840 B.C.) can be accepted as approximately correct; and, as we shall
see hereafter (p. 25), there are vessels _now in existence in Egypt
which were built_ about this very period. The ark was a vessel of such
enormous size that the mere fact that it was constructed argues a very
advanced knowledge and experience on the part of the contemporaries of
Noah. Its dimensions were, according to the biblical version, reckoning
the cubit at eighteen inches; length, 450 feet; breadth, 75 feet; and
depth, 45 feet. If very full in form its "registered tonnage" would have
been nearly 15,000. According to the earlier Babylonian version, the
depth was equal to the breadth, but, unfortunately, the figures of the
measurements are not legible.

It has been sometimes suggested that the ark was a huge raft with a
superstructure, or house, built on it, of the dimensions given above.
There does not, however, appear to be the slightest reason for
concurring with this suggestion. On the contrary, the biblical account
of the structure of the ark is so detailed, that we have no right to
suppose that the description of the most important part of it, the
supposed raft, to which its power of floating would have been due, would
have been omitted. Moreover, the whole account reads like the
description of a ship-shaped structure.


The earliest information on the building of ships is found, as might be
expected, on the Egyptian tombs and monuments. It is probable that the
valley of the Nile was also the first land bordering on the
Mediterranean in which ships, as distinguished from more elementary
craft, were constructed. Everything is in favour of such a supposition.
In the first place, the country was admirably situated, geographically,
for the encouragement of the art of navigation, having seaboards on two
important inland seas which commanded the commerce of Europe and Asia.
In the next place, the habitable portion of Egypt consisted of a long
narrow strip of densely peopled, fertile territory, bordering a great
navigable river, which formed a magnificent highway throughout the whole
extent of the country. It is impossible to conceive of physical
circumstances more conducive to the discovery and development of the
arts of building and navigating floating structures. The experience
gained on the safe waters of the Nile would be the best preparation for
taking the bolder step of venturing on the open seas. The character of
the two inland seas which form the northern and eastern frontiers of
Egypt was such as to favour, to the greatest extent, the spirit of
adventure. As a rule, their waters are relatively calm, and the
distances to be traversed to reach other lands are inconsiderable. We
know that the ancient Egyptians, at a period which the most modern
authorities place at about 7,000 years ago, had already attained to a
very remarkable degree of civilisation and to a knowledge of the arts of
construction on land which has never since been excelled. What is more
natural than to suppose that the genius and science which enabled them
to build the Pyramids and their vast temples and palaces, to construct
huge works for the regulation of the Nile, and to quarry, work into
shape, and move into place blocks of granite weighing in some cases
several hundreds of tons, should also lead them to excel in the art of
building ships? Not only the physical circumstances, but the habits and
the religion of the people created a demand, even a necessity, for the
existence of navigable floating structures. At the head of the delta of
the Nile was the ancient capital, the famous city of Memphis, near to
which were built the Pyramids, as tombs in which might be preserved
inviolate until the day of resurrection, the embalmed bodies of their
kings. The roofs of the burial chambers in the heart of the Pyramids
were prevented from falling in, under the great weight of the
superincumbent mass, by huge blocks, or beams, of the hardest granite,
meeting at an angle above the chambers. The long galleries by which the
chambers were approached were closed after the burial by enormous gates,
consisting of blocks of granite, which were let down from above, sliding
in grooves like the portcullis of a feudal castle. In this way it was
hoped to preserve the corpse contained in the chamber absolutely
inviolate. The huge blocks of granite, which weighed from 50 to 60 tons
each, were supposed to be too heavy ever to be moved again after they
had been once lowered into position, and they were so hard that it was
believed they could never be pierced. Now, even if we had no other
evidence to guide us, the existence of these blocks of granite in the
Pyramids would afford the strongest presumption that the Egyptians of
that remote time were perfectly familiar with the arts of inland
navigation, for the stone was quarried at Assouan, close to the first
cataract, 583 miles above Cairo, and could only have been conveyed from
the quarry to the building site by water.

In the neighbourhood of Memphis are hundreds of other blocks of granite
from Assouan, many of them of enormous size. The Pyramid of Men-kau-Ra,
or Mycerinus, built about 3633 B.C., was once entirely encased with
blocks from Assouan. The Temple of the Sphinx, built at a still earlier
date, was formed, to a large extent, of huge pieces of the same
material, each measuring 15 × 5 × 3·2 feet, and weighing about 18 tons.
The mausoleum of the sacred bulls at Sakara contains numbers of Assouan
granite sarcophagi, some of which measure 13 × 8 × 11 feet. These are
but a few instances, out of the many existing, from which we may infer
that, even so far back as the fourth dynasty, the Egyptians made use of
the arts of inland navigation. We are, however, fortunately not obliged
to rely on inference, for we have direct evidence from the sculptures
and records on the ancient tombs. Thanks to these, we now know what the
ancient Nile boats were like, and how they were propelled, and what
means were adopted for transporting the huge masses of building material
which were used in the construction of the temples and monuments.

The art of reading the hieroglyphic inscriptions was first discovered
about the year 1820, and the exploration of the tombs and monuments has
only been prosecuted systematically during the last five-and-twenty
years. Most of the knowledge of ancient Egyptian ships has, therefore,
been acquired in quite recent times, and much of it only during the last
year or two. This is the reason why, in the old works on shipbuilding,
no information is given on this most interesting subject. Knowledge is,
however, now being increased every day, and, thanks to the practice of
the ancient Egyptians of recording their achievements in sculpture in a
material which is imperishable in a dry climate, we possess at the
present day, probably, a more accurate knowledge of their ships than we
do of those of any other ancient or mediæval people.

By far the oldest boats of which anything is now known were built in
Egypt by the people who inhabited that country before the advent of the
Pyramid-builders. It is only within the last few years that these tombs
have been explored and critically examined. They are now supposed to be
of Libyan origin and to date from between 5000 and 6000 B.C. In many of
these tombs vases of pottery have been discovered, on which are painted
rude representations of ships. Some of the latter were of remarkable
size and character. Fig. 2 is taken from one of these vases. It is a
river scene, showing two boats in procession. The pyramid-shaped mounds
in the background represent a row of hills. These boats are evidently of
very large size. One of them has 58 oars, or more probably paddles, on
each side, and two large cabins amidships, connected by a flying bridge,
and with spaces fenced off from the body of the vessel. The steering
was, apparently, effected by means of three large paddles on each side,
and from the prow of one of the boats hangs a weight, which was probably
intended for an anchor. It will be noticed that the two ends of these
vessels, like the Nile boats of the Egyptians proper, were not
waterborne. A great many representations of these boats have now been
discovered. They all have the same leading characteristics, though they
differ very much in size. Amongst other peculiarities they invariably
have an object at the prow resembling two branches of palm issuing from
a stalk, and also a mast carrying an ensign at the after-cabin.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.--The oldest known ships. Between 5000 and 6000

Some explorers are of opinion that these illustrations do not represent
boats, but fortifications, or stockades of some sort. If we relied only
on the rude representations painted on the vases, the question might be
a moot one. It has, however, been definitely set at rest by Professor
Flinders Petrie, who, in the year 1899, brought back from Egypt very
large drawings of the same character, taken, not from vases, but from
the tombs themselves. The drawings clearly show that the objects are
boats, and that they were apparently very shallow and flat-bottomed. It
is considered probable that they were employed in over-sea trade as well
as for Nile traffic; for, in the same tombs were found specimens of
pottery of foreign manufacture, some of which have been traced to

[Illustration: FIG. 3.--Egyptian boat of the time of the third dynasty.]

The most ancient mention of a ship in the world's history is to be found
in the name of the eighth king of Egypt after Mena, the founder of the
royal race. This king, who was at the head of the second dynasty, was
called Betou (Boëthos in Greek), which word signifies the "prow of a
ship." Nineteen kings intervened between him and Khufu (Cheops), the
builder of the Great Pyramid at Ghizeh. The date of this pyramid is
given by various authorities as from about 4235 to 3500 B.C. As the
knowledge of Egyptology increases the date is set further and further
back, and the late Mariette Pasha, who was one of the greatest
authorities on the subject, fixed it at 4235 B.C. About five centuries
intervened between the reign of Betou and the date of the Great Pyramid.
Hence we can infer that ships were known to the Egyptians of the
dynasties sixty-seven centuries ago.

Fortunately, however, we are not obliged to rely on inferences drawn
from the name of an individual; we actually possess pictures of vessels
which, there is every reason to believe, were built before the date of
the Great Pyramid.

The boat represented by Fig. 3 is of great interest, as it is by far the
oldest specimen of a true Egyptian boat that has yet been discovered. It
was copied by the late Mr. Villiers Stuart from the tomb of Ka Khont
Khut, situated in the side of a mountain near Kâu-el-Kebîr, on the right
bank of the Nile, about 279 miles above Cairo.[1] The tomb belongs to a
very remote period. From a study of the hieroglyphs, the names of the
persons, the forms of the pottery found, and the shape, arrangement, and
decoration of the tomb, Mr. Villiers Stuart came to the conclusion that
it dates from the third dynasty, and that, consequently, it is older
than the Great Pyramid at Ghizeh. If these conclusions are correct, and
if Mariette's date for the Great Pyramid be accepted, Fig. 3 represents
a Nile boat as used about 6,300 years ago--that is to say, about fifteen
centuries before the date commonly accepted for the ark. Mr. Villiers
Stuart supposes that it was a dug-out canoe, but from the dimensions of
the boat this theory is hardly tenable. It will be noted that there are
seven paddlers on each side, in addition to a man using a sounding, or
else a punt, pole at the prow, and three men steering with paddles in
the stern, while amidships there is a considerable free space, occupied
only by the owner, who is armed with a whip, or courbash. The paddlers
occupy almost exactly one-half of the total length, and from the space
required for each of them the boat must have been quite 56 feet long. It
could hardly have been less than seven feet wide, as it contained a
central cabin, with sufficient space on either side of the latter for
paddlers to sit. If it were a "dug-out," the tree from which it was made
must have been brought down the river from tropical Africa. There is no
reason, however, to suppose anything of the sort; for, if the epoch
produced workmen skilful enough to excavate and decorate the tomb, and
to carve the statues and make the pottery which it contained, it must
also have produced men quite capable of building up a boat from planks.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.--Egyptian boat of the time of the fourth

The use of sails was also understood at this remote epoch, for it will
be noticed that, on the roof of the cabin is lying a mast which has been
unshipped. The mast is triangular in shape, consisting of two spars,
joined together at the top at an acute angle, and braced together lower
down. This form was probably adopted in order to dispense with stays,
and thus facilitate shipping and unshipping. It is also worthy of note
that this boat appears to have been decked over, as the feet of all
those on board are visible above the gunwale. A representation of a very
similar boat was found in the tomb of Merâb, a son of Khufu, of the
fourth dynasty.

The tombs of Egypt abound in pictures of boats and larger vessels, and
many wooden models of them have also been found in the sarcophagi. There
is in the Berlin Museum a model of a boat similar in general
arrangement to the one just described. It is decked over and provided
with a cabin amidships, which does not occupy the full width of the
vessel. Fig. 4 is a vessel of later date and larger size than that found
in the tomb of Ka Khont Khut, but its general characteristics are
similar. From the number of paddlers it must have been at least 100 feet
in length. In this case we see the mast is erected and a square sail
set. The bow and stern also come much higher out of the water. The roof
of the cabin is prolonged aft, so as to form a shelter for the steersman
and a seat for the man holding the ropes. Similarly it is prolonged
forward, so as to provide a shelter for the captain, or owner. The
method of steering with oars continued in use for centuries; but in
later and larger vessels the steering-oars, which were of great size,
were worked by a mechanical arrangement. The illustration was taken
originally from a fourth-dynasty tomb at Kôm-el-Ahmars.

There are also extant pictures of Egyptian cattle-boats, formed of two
ordinary barges lashed together, with a temporary house, or cattle-shed,
constructed across them. The history of Egypt, as inscribed in
hieroglyphs on the ancient monuments, relates many instances of huge
sarcophagi, statues, and obelisks having been brought down the Nile on
ships. The tombs and monuments of the sixth dynasty are particularly
rich in such records. In the tomb of Una, who was a high officer under
the three kings, Ati, Pepi I., and Mer-en-Ra, are inscriptions which
shed a flood of light on Egyptian shipbuilding of this period, and on
the uses to which ships were put. In one of them we learn how Una was
sent by Pepi to quarry a sarcophagus in a single piece of limestone, in
the mountain of Jurra, opposite to Memphis, and to transport it,
together with other stones, in one of the king's ships. In another it is
related how he headed a military expedition against the land of
Zerehbah, "to the north of the land of the Hirusha," and how the army
was embarked in ships.

In the reign of Pepi's successor, Mer-en-Ra, Una appears to have been
charged with the quarrying and transport of the stones destined for the
king's pyramid, his sarcophagus, statue, and other purposes. The
following passage from the inscriptions on his tomb gives even the
number of the ships and rafts which he employed on this work:[2]--

  "His Holiness, the King Mer-en-Ra, sent me to the country of Abhat to
  bring back a sarcophagus with its cover, also a small pyramid, and a
  statue of the King Mer-en-Ra, whose pyramid is called Kha-nofer ('the
  beautiful rising'). And his Holiness sent me to the city of
  Elephantine to bring back a holy shrine, with its base of hard
  granite, and the doorposts and cornices of the same granite, and also
  to bring back the granite posts and thresholds for the temple opposite
  to the pyramid Kha-nofer, of King Mer-en-Ra. The number of ships
  destined for the complete transport of all these stones consisted of
  six broad vessels, three tow-boats, three rafts, and one ship manned
  with warriors."

Further on, the inscriptions relate how stone for the Pyramid was hewn
in the granite quarries at Assouan, and how rafts were constructed, 60
cubits in length and 30 cubits in breadth, to transport the material.
The Royal Egyptian cubit was 20·67 inches in length, and the common
cubit 18·24 inches. The river had fallen to such an extent that it was
not possible to make use of these rafts, and others of a smaller size
had to be constructed. For this purpose Una was despatched up the river
to the country of Wawa-t, which Brugsch considered to be the modern
Korosko. The inscription states--

  "His Holiness sent me to cut down four forests in the South, in order
  to build three large vessels and four towing-vessels out of the acacia
  wood in the country of Wawa-t. And behold the officials of Araret,
  Aam, and Mata caused the wood to be cut down for this purpose.
  I executed all this in the space of a year. As soon as the waters rose
  I loaded the rafts with immense pieces of granite for the Pyramid
  Kha-nofer, of the King Mer-en-Ra."

Mr. Villiers Stuart found several pictures of large ships of this remote
period at Kasr-el-Syad on the Nile, about 70 miles below Thebes, in the
tomb of Ta-Hotep, who lived in the reigns of Pepi I. and his two
successors. These boats were manned with twenty-four rowers, and had two
cabins, one amidships and the other astern.[3] The same explorer
describes the contents of a tomb of the sixth dynasty at Gebel Abû
Faida, on the walls of which he observed the painting of a boat with a
triple mast (presumably made of three spars arranged like the edges of a
triangular pyramid), and a stern projecting beneath the water.

Between the sixth and the eleventh dynasties Egyptian history is almost
an utter blank. The monuments contain no records for a period of about
600 years. We are, therefore, in complete ignorance of the progress of
shipbuilding during this epoch. It was, however, probably considerable;
for, when next the monuments speak it is to give an account of a
mercantile expedition on the high seas. In the Valley of Hamâmât, near
Coptos, about 420 miles above Cairo, is an inscription on the rocks,
dating from the reign of Sankh-ka-Ra, the last king of the eleventh
dynasty (about 2800 B.C.), describing an expedition by sea to the famous
land of Punt, on the coast of the Red Sea. This expedition is not to be
confounded with another, a much more famous one, to the same land,
carried out by direction of Queen Hatshepsu of the eighteenth dynasty,
about eleven centuries later. Sankh-ka-Ra's enterprise is, however,
remarkable as being the first over-sea maritime expedition recorded in
the world's history. It may be noted that it took place at about the
date usually assigned to Noah's ark.

The town of Coptos was of considerable commercial importance, having
been at one end of the great desert route from the Nile to the Red Sea
port of Kosseir, whence most of the Egyptian maritime expeditions
started. The land of Punt, which was the objective of the expedition, is
now considered to be identical with Somaliland. The following extracts
from the inscription give an excellent idea of the objects and conduct
of the expedition, which was under the leadership of a noble named
Hannu, who was himself the author of the inscription:[4]--

  "I was sent to conduct ships to the land of Punt, to fetch for Pharaoh
  sweet-smelling spices, which the princes of the red land collect out
  of fear and dread, such as he inspires in all nations. And I started
  from the City of Coptos, and his Holiness gave the command that the
  armed men, who were to accompany me, should be from the south country
  of the Thebaîd."

After describing the arrangements which he made for
watering the expedition along the desert route, he goes on
to say:--

  "Then I arrived at the port Seba, and I had ships of burthen built to
  bring back products of all kinds. And I offered a great sacrifice of
  oxen, cows, and goats. And when I returned from Seba I had executed
  the King's command, for I brought him back all kinds of products which
  I had met with in the ports of the Holy Land (Punt). And I came back
  by the road of Uak and Rohan, and brought with me precious stones for
  the statues of the temples. But such a thing never happened since
  there were kings; nor was the like of it ever done by any blood
  relations who were sent to these places since the time (of the reign)
  of the Sun-god Ra."

From the last sentence of the above quotation we may infer that previous
expeditions had been sent to the land of Punt. Communication with this
region must, however, have been carried on only at considerable
intervals, for we read that Hannu had to build the ships required for
the voyage. Unfortunately, no representations of these vessels accompany
the inscription.

Between the end of the eleventh and the commencement of the eighteenth
dynasty, the monuments give us very little information about ships or
maritime expeditions. Aahmes, the first king of the latter dynasty,
freed Egypt from the domination of the Shepherd Kings by means of a
naval expedition on the Nile and the Mediterranean. A short history of
this campaign is given in the tomb of another Aahmes, near El Kab, a
place on the east bank of the river, 502 miles south of Cairo. This
Aahmes was a captain of sailors who served under Sequenen-Ra, King
Aahmes, Amenophis I., and Thotmes I. King Aahmes is supposed to have
been the Pharaoh of the Old Testament who knew not Joseph. He lived
about 1700 B.C.

By far the most interesting naval records of this dynasty are the
accounts, in the temple of Dêr-el-Bahari close to Thebes, of the famous
expedition to the land of Punt, carried out by order of that remarkable
woman Queen Hatshepsu, who was the daughter of Thotmes I., half-sister
and wife of Thotmes II., and aunt and step-mother of the famous king
Thotmes III. She appears to have been called by her father during his
lifetime to share the throne with him, and to have practically usurped
the government during the reign of her husband and during the early
years of the reign of her nephew.

The expedition to the land of Punt was evidently one of the most
remarkable events of her reign. It took place about 1600 B.C.--that is
to say, about three centuries before the Exodus. The history of the
undertaking is given at great length on the retaining wall of one of the
terraces of the temple, and the various scenes and events are
illustrated by carvings on the same wall, in as complete a manner as
though the expedition had taken place in the present time, and had been
accompanied by the artists of one of our pictorial newspapers.
Fortunately, the great bulk of the carvings and inscriptions remain to
this day, and we possess, therefore, a unique record of a trading
expedition carried out at this remote period.

The carvings comprise representations of the ships going out. The
landing at the "incense terraced-mountain," and the meeting with the
princes and people of this strange land, are also shown. We have
pictures of their pile dwellings, and of the trees and animals of the
country, and also portraits of the King of Punt, of his wife and
children. Lastly, we have representations of the ships returning to
Egypt, laden with the precious incense of the land and with other
merchandise, and also of the triumphant reception of the members of the
expedition at Thebes.

One of the inscriptions relates as follows:[5]--

  "The ships were laden to the uttermost with the wonderful products of
  the land of Punt, and with the different precious woods of the divine
  land, and with heaps of the resin of incense, with fresh incense
  trees, with ebony, (objects) of ivory set in pure gold from the land
  of the 'Amu, with sweet woods, Khesit-wood, with Ahem incense, holy
  resin, and paint for the eyes, with dog-headed apes, with long-tailed
  monkeys and greyhounds, with leopard-skins, and with natives of the
  country, together with their children. Never was the like brought to
  any king (of Egypt) since the world stands."

The boast contained in the concluding sentence was obviously not
justified, as we know the same claims were made in the inscription in
the valley of Hammamât, describing the previous expedition to Punt,
which took place eleven centuries earlier.

From the frontispiece, Fig. 1, we can form an accurate idea of the ships
used in the Red Sea trade in the time of the eighteenth dynasty. They
were propelled by rowers instead of by paddlers, as in all the previous
examples. There were fifteen rowers on each side, and, allowing four
feet for the distance between each seat, and taking account of the
length of the overhanging portions at bow and stern, the length of each
vessel could have been little short of a hundred feet. They were
apparently decked over and provided with raised cabins at the two
extremities. The projections marked along the sides may indicate the
ends of beams, or they may, as some writers have supposed, have been
pieces of timber against which the oars could be worked in narrow and
shallow water.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.--Nile barge carrying obelisks. About 1600 B.C.]

These vessels were each rigged with a huge square sail. The spars
carrying the sail were as long as the boats themselves, and were each
formed of two pieces spliced together in the middle. The stems and
sterns were not waterborne. In order to prevent the vessel from
hogging under the influence of the weights of the unsupported ends, a
truss was employed, similar in principle and object to those used to
this day in American river steamers. The truss was formed by erecting
four or more pillars in the body of the vessel, terminating at a height
of about six feet above the gunwale, in crutches. A strong rope running
fore and aft was passed over these crutches and also round the mast, the
two ends of the rope having been so arranged as to gird and support the
stem and stern respectively.

The Temple of Dêr-el-Bahari contained also a most interesting
illustrated account of the transport of two great obelisks down the Nile
in the reign of the same queen. Unfortunately, parts of the description
and of the carvings have been lost, but enough remains to give us a very
clear idea of the vessels employed and of the method of transport. Fig.
5 shows the type of barge employed to carry the obelisks, of which there
were two. The dotted lines show the portions of the carving which are at
present missing. The restoration was effected by Monsieur Edouard
Naville.[6] The restoration is by no means conjectural. The key to it
was furnished by a hieroglyph in the form of the barge with the obelisks
on deck. Some of these obelisks were of very large size. There are two,
which were hewn out of granite for Queen Hatshepsu, still at the Temple
of Karnak. They may, very possibly, be the two which are referred to in
the description at Dêr-el-Bahari. One of them is 98 feet and the other
105 feet in height. The larger of the two has been calculated to weigh
374 tons, and the two together may have weighed over 700 tons. To
transport such heavy stones very large barges would have been required.
Unfortunately, the greater portion of the inscription describing the
building of these boats has been lost, but what remains states that
orders were given to collect "sycamores from the whole land (to do the)
work of building a very great boat." There is, however, an inscription
still intact in the tomb of an ancient Egyptian named Anna, who lived in
the reigns of the three kings Thotmes (and therefore also during that of
Queen Hatshepsu), which relates that, having to transport two obelisks
for Thotmes I., he built a boat 120 cubits long and 40 cubits wide. If
the royal cubit of 20·72 inches was referred to, the dimensions of the
boat would have been 200 feet long by 69 feet wide. This is possibly the
very boat illustrated on the walls of Dêr-el-Bahari; for, it having
evidently been a matter of some difficulty to collect the timber
necessary to build so large a vessel, it seems only natural to suppose
that it would be carefully preserved for the future transport of similar
obelisks. If, however, it was found necessary to construct a new boat in
order to transport Queen Hatshepsu's obelisks, we may be fairly certain
that it was larger than the one whose dimensions are given above, for
the taller of her two obelisks at Karnak is the largest that has been
found in Egypt in modern times. The obelisk of rose granite of Thotmes
I., still at Karnak, is 35 feet shorter, being 70 feet, or exactly the
same height as the one called Cleopatra's Needle, now on the Thames

The barge shown in Fig. 5 was strengthened, apparently, with three tiers
of beams; it was steered by two pairs of huge steering-oars, and was
towed by three parallel groups, each consisting of ten large boats.
There were 32 oarsmen to each boat in the two wing groups, and 36 in
each of the central groups: there were, therefore, exactly one thousand
oars used in all. The towing-cable started from the masthead of the
foremost boat of each group, and thence passed to the bow of the second
one, and so on, the stern of each boat being left perfectly free, for
the purpose, no doubt, of facilitating the steering. The flotilla was
accompanied by five smaller boats, some of which were used by the
priests, while the others were despatch vessels, probably used to keep
up communications with the groups of tugs.

There are no other inscriptions, or carvings, that have as yet been
discovered in Egypt which give us so much information regarding Egyptian
ships as those on the Temple at Dêr-el-Bahari. From time to time we read
of naval and mercantile expeditions, but illustrations of the ships and
details of the voyages are, as a rule, wanting. We know that Seti I., of
the nineteenth dynasty, whose reign commenced about 1366 B.C., was a
great encourager of commerce. He felled timber in Lebanon for building
ships, and is said to have excavated a canal between the Nile and the
Red Sea. His successor, the famous Ramses II., carried on wars by sea,
as is proved by the inscriptions in the Temple at Abû Simbel in Nubia,
762 miles above Cairo.

In the records of the reign of Ramses III., 1200 B.C., we again come
upon illustrations of ships in the Temple of Victory at Medînet Habû,
West Thebes. The inscriptions describe a great naval victory which this
king won at Migdol, near the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile, over northern
invaders, probably Colchians and Carians. Fig. 6 shows one of the
battleships. It is probably more a symbolical than an exact
representation, nevertheless it gives us some valuable information. For
instance, we see that the rowers were protected against the missiles of
their adversaries by strong bulwarks, and the captain occupied a crow's
nest at the masthead.

Ramses III. did a great deal to develop Egyptian commerce. His naval
activities were by no means confined to the Mediterranean, for we read
that he built a fleet at Suez, and traded with the land of Punt and the
shores of the Indian Ocean. Herodotus states that, in his day, the docks
still existed at the head of the Arabian Gulf where this Red Sea fleet
was built.

Pharaoh Nekau (Necho), who reigned from 612 to 596 B.C., and who
defeated Josiah, King of Judah, was one of the kings of Egypt who did
most to encourage commerce. He commenced a canal to join the Pelusiac
branch of the Nile at Bubastis with the Red Sea, but never finished it.
It was under his directions that the Phoenicians, according to
Herodotus, made the voyage round Africa referred to on p. 27. When Nekau
abandoned the construction of the canal he built two fleets of triremes,
one for use in the Mediterranean, and the other for the Red Sea. The
latter fleet was built in the Arabian Gulf.

[Illustration: FIG. 6.--Battleship of Ramses III. About 1200 B.C.]

In later times the seaborne commerce of Egypt fell, to a
large extent, into the hands of the Phoenicians and Greeks.

Herodotus (484 to 423 B.C.) gives an interesting account of
the Nile boats of his day, and of the method of navigation of
the river.[7]

  "Their boats, with which they carry cargoes, are made of the thorny
  acacia.... From this tree they cut pieces of wood about two cubits in
  length, and arrange them like bricks, fastening the boat together by a
  great number of long bolts through the two-cubit pieces; and when they
  have thus fastened the boat together they lay cross-pieces over the
  top, using no ribs for the sides; and within they caulk the seams with
  papyrus. They make one steering-oar for it, which is passed through
  the bottom of the boat, and they have a mast of acacia and sails of
  papyrus. These boats cannot sail up the river unless there be a very
  fresh wind blowing, but are towed.... Down stream they travel as
  follows: they have a door-shaped crate, made of tamarisk wood and reed
  mats sewn together, and also a stone of about two talents' weight,
  bored with a hole; and of these the boatman lets the crate float on in
  front of the boat, fastened with a rope, and the stone drag behind by
  another rope. The crate then, as the force of the stream presses upon
  it, goes on swiftly and draws on the ... boats, ... while the stone,
  dragging after it behind and sunk deep in the water, keeps its course

In connection with this account it is curious to note that, at so late a
period as the time of Herodotus, papyrus was used for the sails of Nile
boats, for we know that, for many centuries previously, the Egyptians
were adepts in the manufacture of linen, and actually exported fine
linen to Cyprus to be used as sailcloth.

Before concluding this account of shipbuilding in ancient Egypt, it may
be mentioned that, in the year 1894, the French Egyptologist, Monsieur
J. de Morgan, discovered several Nile boats of the time of the twelfth
dynasty (2850 B.C.) admirably preserved in brick vaults at Dashûr, a
little above Cairo, on the left bank of the river. The site of these
vaults is about one hour's ride from the river and between 70 and 80
feet above the plain. The boats are about 33 feet long, 7 to 8 feet
wide, and 2-1/2 to 3 feet deep. As there were neither rowlocks nor
masts, and as they were found in close proximity to some Royal tombs, it
is considered probable that they were funeral boats, used for carrying
royal mummies across the river. They are constructed of planks of acacia
and sycamore, about three inches thick, which are dovetailed together
and fastened with trenails. There are floors, but no ribs. In this
respect the account of Herodotus is remarkably confirmed. The method of
construction was so satisfactory that, although they are nearly 5,000
years old, they held rigidly together after their supports had been
removed by Monsieur de Morgan. They were steered by two large paddles.
The discovery of these boats is of extraordinary interest, for they
were built at the period usually assigned to Noah's ark. It is a curious
fact that they should have been found so far from the river, but we know
from other sources--such as the paintings found in papyrus books--that
it was the custom of the people to transport the mummies of royal
personages, together with the funeral boats, on sledges to the tomb.

The famous galleys of the Egypt of the Ptolemies belonged to the period
of Greek and Roman naval architecture, and will be referred to later.

From the time of the ancient Egyptian vessels there is no record
whatever of the progress of naval architecture till we come to the
period of the Greeks, and even the early records relating to this
country are meagre in the extreme. The Phoenicians were among the
first of the races who dwelt on the Mediterranean seaboard to cultivate
a seaborne commerce, and to them, after the Egyptians, is undoubtedly
due the early progress made in sea-going ships. This remarkable people
is said to have originally come to the Levant from the shores of the
Persian Gulf. They occupied a strip of territory on the seaboard to the
north of Palestine, about 250 miles long and of the average width of
only 12 miles. The chief cities were Tyre and Sidon. There are only
three representations known to be in existence of the Phoenician
ships. They must have been of considerable size, and have been well
manned and equipped, for the Phoenicians traded with every part of the
then known world, and founded colonies--the principal of which was
Carthage--at many places along the coast-line of the Mediterranean. A
proof of the size and seaworthiness of their ships was the fact that
they made very distant voyages across notoriously stormy seas; for
instance, to Cornwall in search of tin, and probably also to the south
coast of Ireland. They also coasted along the western shores of Africa.
Somewhere between the years 610 and 594 B.C. some Phoenician ships,
acting under instructions from Pharaoh Nekau, are said to have
circumnavigated Africa, having proceeded from the Indian to the Southern
Ocean, and thence round by the Atlantic and through the Pillars of
Hercules home. The voyage occupied more than two years, a circumstance
which was due to the fact that they always landed in the autumn and
sowed a tract of country with corn, and waited on shore till it was fit
to cut. In the time of Solomon the joint fleets of the Israelites and
Phoenicians made voyages from the head of the Red Sea down the coasts
of Arabia and Eastern Africa, and even to Persia and Beluchistan, and
probably also to India. The Phoenicians were not only great traders
themselves, but they manned the fleets of other nations, and built ships
for other peoples, notably for the Egyptians and Persians. It is
unfortunate that we have so few representations of the Phoenician
ships, but we are justified in concluding that they were of the same
general type as those which were used by the Greeks, the Carthaginians,
and eventually by the Romans. The representations of their vessels known
to be in existence were found by the late Sir Austin Layard in the
palace built by King Sennacherib at Kouyunjik, near Nineveh, about 700
B.C. One of these is shown in Fig. 7. Though they were obviously rather
symbols of ships than faithful representations, we can, nevertheless,
gather from them that the warship was a galley provided with a ram, and
fitted with a mast carrying a single square sail; there were also two
banks of oars on each side. The steering was accomplished by two large
oars at the stern, and the fighting troops were carried on a deck or
platform raised on pillars above the heads of the rowers.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.--Portion of a Phoenician galley. About 700 B.C.
_From Kouyunjik (Nineveh)._]


In considering the history of the development of shipbuilding, we cannot
fail to be struck with the favourable natural conditions which existed
in Greece for the improvement of the art. On the east and west the
mainland was bordered by inland seas, studded with islands abounding in
harbours. Away to the north-east were other enclosed seas, which tempted
the enterprise of the early navigators. One of the cities of Greece
proper, Corinth, occupied an absolutely unique position for trade and
colonization, situated as it was on a narrow isthmus commanding two
seas. The long narrow Gulf of Corinth opening into the Mediterranean,
and giving access to the Ionian Islands, must have been a veritable
nursery of the art of navigation, for here the early traders could sail
for long distances, in easy conditions, without losing sight of land.
The Gulf of Ægina and the waters of the Archipelago were equally
favourable. The instincts of the people were commercial, and their
necessities made them colonizers on a vast scale; moreover, they had at
their disposal the experience in the arts of navigation, acquired from
time immemorial, by the Egyptians and Phoenicians. Nevertheless, with
all these circumstances in their favour, the Greeks, at any rate up to
the fourth century B.C., appear to have contributed nothing to the
improvement of shipbuilding.[8] The Egyptians and Phoenicians both
built triremes as early as 600 B.C., but this class of vessel was quite
the exception in the Greek fleets which fought at Salamis 120 years

The earliest naval expedition mentioned in Greek history is that of the
allied fleets which transported the armies of Hellas to the siege of
Troy about the year 1237 B.C. According to the Greek historians, the
vessels used were open boats, decks not having been introduced into
Greek vessels till a much later period.

The earliest Greek naval battle of which we have any record took place
about the year 709 B.C., over 500 years after the expedition to Troy and
1,000 years after the battle depicted in the Temple of Victory at
Thebes. It was fought between the Corinthians and their rebellious
colonists of Corcyra, now called Corfu.

Some of the naval expeditions recorded in Greek history were conceived
on a gigantic scale. The joint fleets of Persia and Phoenicia which
attacked and conquered the Greek colonies in Ionia consisted of 600
vessels. This expedition took place in the year 496 B.C. Shortly
afterwards the Persian commander-in-chief, Mardonius, collected a much
larger fleet for the invasion of Greece itself.

After the death of Cambyses, his successor Xerxes collected a fleet
which is stated to have numbered 4,200 vessels, of which 1,200 were
triremes. The remainder appears to have been divided into two classes,
of which the larger were propelled with twenty-five and the smaller with
fifteen oars a-side. This fleet, after many misfortunes at sea, and
after gaining a hard-fought victory over the Athenians, was finally
destroyed by the united Greek fleet at the ever-famous battle of
Salamis. The size of the Persian monarch's fleet was in itself a
sufficient proof of the extent of the naval power of the Levantine
states; but an equally convincing proof of the maritime power of another
Mediterranean state, viz., Carthage, at that early period--about 470
B.C.--is forthcoming. This State equipped a large fleet, consisting of
3,000 ships, against the Greek colonies in Sicily; of these 2,000 were
fighting galleys, and the remainder transports on which no less than
300,000 men were embarked. This mighty armada was partly destroyed in a
great storm. All the transports were wrecked, and the galleys were
attacked and totally destroyed by the fleets of the Greek colonists
under Gelon on the very day, according to tradition, on which the
Persians were defeated at Salamis. Out of the entire expedition only a
few persons returned to Carthage to tell the tale of their disasters.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.--Greek unireme. About 500 B.C.]

The foregoing account will serve to give a fair idea of the extent to
which shipbuilding was carried on in the Mediterranean in the fifth
century before the Christian era.

We have very little knowledge of the nature of Greek vessels previously
to 500 B.C.[9] Thucydides says that the ships engaged on the Trojan
expedition were without decks.

According to Homer, 1,200 ships were employed, those of the Boeotians
having 120 men each, and those of Philoctetes 50 men each. Thucydides
also relates that the earliest Hellenic triremes were built at Corinth,
and that Ameinocles, a Corinthian naval architect, built four ships for
the Samians about 700 B.C.; but triremes did not become common until the
time of the Persian War, except in Sicily and Corcyra (Corfu), in which
states considerable numbers were in use a little time before the war
broke out.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.--Greek bireme. About 500 B.C.]

Fig. 8 is an illustration of a single-banked Greek galley of the date
about 500 B.C., taken from an Athenian painted vase now in the British
Museum. The vessel was armed with a ram; seventeen oars a-side are
shown. There is no space on the vase to show in detail the whole of the
mast and rigging, but their presence is indicated by lines.

Fig. 9 is a representation of a Greek bireme of about the date 500
B.C.--that is to say, of the period immediately preceding the Persian
War. It is taken from a Greek vase in the

[Illustration: FIG. 10.--Fragment of a Greek galley showing absence of
deck. About 550 B.C.]

British Museum, which was found at Vulci in Etruria. It is one of the
very few representations now in existence of ancient Greek biremes. It
gives us far less information than we could wish to have. The vessel has
two banks of oars, those of the upper tier passing over the gunwale, and
those of the lower passing through oar-ports. Twenty oars are shown by
the artist on each side, but this is probably not the exact number used.
Unfortunately the rowers of the lower tier are not shown in position.
The steering was effected by means of two large oars at the stern, after
the manner of those in use in the Egyptian ships previously described.
This is proved by another illustration of a bireme on the same vase, in
which the steering oars are clearly seen. The vessel had a strongly
marked forecastle and a ram fashioned in the shape of a boar's head. It
is a curious fact that Herodotus, in his history (Book III.), mentions
that the Samian ships carried beaks, formed to resemble the head of a
wild boar, and he relates how the Æginetans beat some Samian colonists
in a sea-fight off Crete, and sawed off the boar-head beaks from the
captured galleys, and deposited them in a temple in Ægina. This
sea-fight took place about the same time that the vases were
manufactured, from which Figs. 8 and 9 are copied. There was a single
mast with a very large yard carrying a square sail. The stays are not
shown, but Homer says that the masts of early Greek vessels were stayed
fore and aft.

It is impossible to say whether this vessel was decked. According to
Thucydides, the ships which the Athenians built at the instigation of
Themistocles, and which they used at Salamis, were not fully decked.
That Greek galleys were sometimes without decks is proved by Fig. 10,
which is a copy of a fragment of a painting of a Greek galley on an
Athenian vase now in the British Museum, of the date of about 550 B.C.
It is perfectly obvious, from the human figures in the galley, that
there was no deck. Not even the forecastle was covered in. The galleys
of Figs. 8 and 9 had, unlike the Phoenician bireme of Fig. 7, no
fighting-deck for the use of the soldiers. There was also no protection
for the upper-tier rowers, and in this respect they were inferior to the
Egyptian ship shown in Fig. 6. It is probable that Athenian ships at
Salamis also had no fighting, or flying decks for the use of the
soldiers; for, according to Thucydides, Gylippos, when exhorting the
Syracusans, nearly sixty years later, in 413 B.C., said, "But to them
(the Athenians) the employment of troops on deck is a novelty." Against
this view, however, it must be stated that there are now in existence at
Rome two grotesque pictures of Greek galleys on a painted vase, dating
from about 550 B.C., in which the soldiers are clearly depicted standing
and fighting upon a flying deck. Moreover, Thucydides, in describing a
sea-fight between the Corinthians and the Corcyreans in 432 B.C.,
mentions that the decks of both fleets were crowded with heavy infantry
archers and javelin-men, "for their naval engagements were still of the
old clumsy sort." Possibly this last sentence gives us a clue to the
explanation of the apparent discrepancy. The Athenians were, as we know,
expert tacticians at sea, and adopted the method of ramming hostile
ships, instead of lying alongside and leaving the fighting to the troops
on board. They may, however, have been forced to revert to the latter
method, in order to provide for cases where ramming could not be used;
as, for instance, in narrow harbours crowded with shipping, like that of

It is perfectly certain that the Phoenician ships which formed the
most important part of the Persian fleet at Salamis carried
fighting-decks. We have seen already (p. 28) that they used such decks
in the time of Sennacherib, and we have the distinct authority of
Herodotus for the statement that they were also employed in the Persian
War; for, he relates that Xerxes returned to Asia in a Phoenician
ship, and that great danger arose during a storm, the vessel having been
top-heavy owing to the deck being crowded with Persian nobles who
returned with the king.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.--Galley showing deck and superstructure. About
600 B.C. _From an Etruscan imitation of a Greek vase._]

Fig. 11, which represents a bireme, taken from an ancient Etruscan
imitation of a Greek vase of about 600 B.C., clearly shows soldiers
fighting, both on the deck proper and on a raised, or flying,

In addition to the triremes, of which not a single illustration of
earlier date than the Christian era is known to be in existence, both
Greeks and Persians, during the wars in the early part of the fifth
century B.C., used fifty-oared ships called penteconters, in which the
oars were supposed to have been arranged in one tier. About a century
and a half after the battle of Salamis, in 330 B.C., the Athenians
commenced to build ships with four banks, and five years later they
advanced to five banks. This is proved by the extant inventories of the
Athenian dockyards. According to Diodoros, they were in use in the
Syracusan fleet in 398 B.C. Diodoros, however, died nearly 350 years
after this epoch, and his account must, therefore, be received with

The evidence in favour of the existence of galleys having more than five
superimposed banks of oars is very slight.

Alexander the Great is said by most of his biographers to have used
ships with five banks of oars; but Quintus Curtius states that, in 323
B.C., the Macedonian king built a fleet of seven-banked galleys on the
Euphrates. Quintus Curtius is supposed by the best authorities to have
lived five centuries after the time of Alexander, and therefore his
account of these ships cannot be accepted without question.

It is also related by Diodoros that there were ships of six and seven
banks in the fleet of Demetrios Poliorcetes at a battle off Cyprus in
306 B.C., and that Antigonos, the father of Poliorcetes, had ships of
eleven and twelve banks. We have seen, however, that Diodoros died about
two and a half centuries after this period. Pliny, who lived from 61 to
115 A.D., increases the number of banks in the ships of the opposing
fleets at this battle to twelve and fifteen banks respectively. It is
impossible to place any confidence in such statements.

Theophrastus, a botanist who died about 288 B.C., and who was therefore
a contemporary of Demetrios, mentions in his history of plants that the
king built an eleven-banked ship in Cyprus. This is one of the very few
contemporary records we possess of the construction of such ships. The
question, however, arises, Can a botanist be accepted as an accurate
witness in matters relating to shipbuilding? The further question
presents itself, What meaning is intended to be conveyed by the terms
which we translate as ships of many banks? This question will be
reverted to hereafter.

In one other instance a writer cites a document in which one of these
many-banked ships is mentioned as having been in existence during his
lifetime. The author in question was Polybios, one of the most
painstaking and accurate of the ancient historians, who was born between
214 and 204 B.C., and who quotes a treaty between Rome and Macedon
concluded in 197 B.C., in which a Macedonian ship of sixteen banks is
once mentioned. This ship was brought to the Tiber thirty years later,
according to Plutarch and Pliny, who are supposed to have copied a lost
account by Polybios. Both Plutarch and Pliny were born more than two
centuries after this event. If the alleged account by Polybios had been
preserved, it would have been unimpeachable authority on the subject of
this vessel, as this writer, who was, about the period in question, an
exile in Italy, was tutor in the family of Æmilius Paulus, the Roman
general who brought the ship to the Tiber.

The Romans first became a naval power in their wars with the
Carthaginians, when the command of the sea became a necessity of their
existence. This was about 256 B.C. At that time they knew nothing
whatever of shipbuilding, and their early war-vessels were merely copies
of those used by the Carthaginians, and these latter were no doubt of
the same general type as the Greek galleys. The first Roman fleet
appears to have consisted of quinqueremes.

The third century B.C. is said to have been an era of gigantic ships.
Ptolemy Philadelphos and Ptolemy Philopater, who reigned over Egypt
during the greater part of that century, are alleged to have built a
number of galleys ranging from thirteen up to forty banks. The evidence
in this case is derived from two unsatisfactory sources. Athenæos and
Plutarch quote one Callixenos of Rhodes, and Pliny quotes one
Philostephanos of Cyrene, but very little is known about either
Callixenos or Philostephanos. Fortunately, however, Callixenos gives
details about the size of the forty-banker, the length of her longest
oars, and the number of her crew, which enables us to gauge his value as
an authority, and to pronounce his story to be incredible (see p. 45).

Whatever the arrangement of their oars may have been, these many-banked
ships appear to have been large and unmanageable, and they finally went
out of fashion in the year 31 B.C., when Augustus defeated the combined
fleets of Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium. The vessels
which composed the latter fleets were of the many-banked order, while
Augustus had adopted the swift, low, and handy galleys of the Liburni,
who were a seafaring and piratical people from Illyria on the Adriatic
coast. Their vessels were originally single-bankers, but afterwards it
is said that two banks were adopted. This statement is borne out by the
evidence of Trajan's Column, all the galleys represented on it, with the
exception of one, being biremes.

Augustus gained the victory at Actium largely owing to the handiness of
his Liburnian galleys, and, in consequence, this type was henceforward
adopted for Roman warships, and ships of many banks were no longer
built. The very word "trireme" came to signify a warship, without
reference to the number of banks of oars.

After the Romans had completed the conquest of the nations bordering on
the Mediterranean, naval war ceased for a time, and the fighting navy of
Rome declined in importance. It was not till the establishment of the
Vandal kingdom in Africa under Genseric that a revival in naval warfare
on a large scale took place. No changes in the system of marine
architecture are recorded during all these ages. The galley,
considerably modified in later times, continued to be the principal type
of warship in the Mediterranean till about the sixteenth century of our


Little accurate information as we possess about the warships of the
ancients, we know still less of their merchant-vessels and transports.
They were unquestionably much broader, relatively, and fuller than the
galleys; for, whereas the length of the latter class was often eight to
ten times the beam, the merchant-ships were rarely longer than three or
four times their beam. Nothing is known of the nature of Phoenician
merchant-vessels. Fig. 12 is an illustration of an Athenian
merchant-ship of about 500 B.C. It is taken from the same painted vase
as the galley shown on Fig. 9. If the illustration can be relied on, it
shows that these early Greek sailing-ships were not only relatively
short, but very deep. The forefoot and dead wood aft appear to have
been cut away to an extraordinary extent, probably for the purpose of
increasing the handiness. The rigging was of the type which was
practically universal in ancient ships.

Fig. 13 gives the sheer draught or side elevation, the plan, elevations
of the bow and stem, and a midship section of a Roman vessel, which from
her proportions and the shape of bow is supposed to have been a
merchant-ship. The illustration is taken from a model presented to
Greenwich Hospital by Lord Anson. The original model was of white
marble, and was found in the Villa Mattei in Rome, in the sixteenth

We know from St. Paul's experiences, as described in the Acts of the
Apostles, that Mediterranean merchant-ships must often have been of
considerable size, and that they were capable of going through very
stormy voyages. St. Paul's ship contained a grain cargo, and carried 276
human beings.

[Illustration: FIG. 12.--Greek merchant-ship. About 500 B.C.]

In the merchant-ships oars were only used as an auxiliary means of
propulsion, the principal reliance being placed on masts and sails.
Vessels of widely different sizes were in use, the larger carrying
10,000 talents, or 250 tons of cargo. Sometimes, however, much bigger
ships were used. For instance, Pliny mentions a vessel in which the
Vatican obelisk and its pedestal, weighing together nearly 500 tons,
were brought from Egypt to Italy about the year 50 A.D. It is further
stated that this vessel carried an additional cargo of 800 tons of
lentils to keep the obelisk from shifting on board.

Lucian, writing in the latter half of the second century A.D.,
mentions, in one of his Dialogues, the dimensions of a ship which
carried corn from Egypt to the Piræus. The figures are: length, 180 ft.;
breadth, nearly 50 ft.; depth from deck to bottom of hold, 43-1/2 ft.
The latter figure appears to be incredible. The other dimensions are
approximately those of the _Royal George_, described on p. 126.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.--Roman merchant-ship.]


It is only during the present century that we have learned, with any
certainty, what the ancient Greek galleys were like. In the year 1834
A.D. it was discovered that a drain at the Piræus had been constructed
with a number of slabs bearing inscriptions, which, on examination,
turned out to be the inventories of the ancient dockyard of the Piræus.
From these inscriptions an account of the Attic triremes has been
derived by the German writers Boeckh and Graser. The galleys all appear
to have been constructed on much the same model, with interchangeable
parts. The dates of the slabs range from 373 to 323 B.C., and the
following description must be taken as applying only to galleys built
within this period.

The length, exclusive of the beak, or ram, must have been at least 126
ft., the ram having an additional length of 10 ft. The length was, of
course, dictated by the maximum number of oars in any one tier, by the
space which it was found necessary to leave between each oar, and by the
free spaces between the foremost oar and the stem, and the aftermost oar
and the stern of the ship. Now, as it appears further on, the maximum
number of oars in any tier in a trireme was 62 in the top bank, which
gives 31 a side. If we allow only 3 ft. between the oars we must allot
at least 90 ft. to the portion of the vessel occupied by the rowers. The
free spaces at stem and stern were, according to the representations of
those vessels which have come down to us, about 7/24th of the whole;
and, if we accept this proportion, the length of a trireme,
independently of its beak, would be about 126 ft. 6 in. If the space
allotted to each rower be increased, as it may very reasonably be, the
total length of the ship would also have to be increased
proportionately. Hence it is not surprising that some authorities put
the length at over 140 ft. It may be mentioned in corroboration, that
the ruins of the Athenian docks at Zea show that they were originally at
least 150 ft. long. They were also 19 ft. 5 in. wide. The breadth of a
trireme at the water-line, amidships, was about 14 ft., perhaps
increasing somewhat higher up, the sides tumbled home above the greatest
width. These figures give the width of the hull proper, exclusive of an
outrigged gangway, or deck, which, as subsequently explained, was
constructed along the sides as a passage for the soldiers and seamen.
The draught was from 7 to 8 ft.

Such a vessel carried a crew of from 200 to 225, of whom 174 were
rowers, 20 seamen to work the sails, anchors, etc., and the remainder
soldiers. Of the rowers, 62 occupied the upper, 58 the middle and 54 the
lower tier. Many writers have supposed that each oar was worked by
several rowers, as in the galleys of the Middle Ages. This, however, was
not the case, for it has been conclusively proved that, in the Greek
galleys, up to the class of triremes, at any rate, there was only one
man to each oar. For instance, Thucydides, describing the surprise
attack intended to be delivered on the Piræus, and actually delivered
against the island of Salamis by the Peloponnesians in 429 B.C., relates
that the sailors were marched from Corinth to Nisæa, the harbour of
Megara, on the Athenian side of the isthmus, in order to launch forty
ships which happened to be lying in the docks there, and that _each_
sailor carried his cushion and his oar, with its thong, on his march. We
have, moreover, a direct proof of the size of the longest oars used in
triremes, for the inventories of the Athenian dockyards expressly state
that they were 9-1/2 cubits, or 13 ft. 6 in. in length. The reason why
the oars were arranged in tiers, or banks, one above the other was, no
doubt, that, in this way, the propelling power could be increased
without a corresponding increase in the length of the ships. To make a
long sea-going vessel sufficiently strong without a closed upper deck
would have severely taxed the skill of the early shipbuilders. Moreover,
long vessels would have been very difficult to manoeuvre, and in the
Greek mode of fighting, ramming being one of the chief modes of offence,
facility in manoeuvring was of prime importance. The rowers on each
side sat in the same vertical longitudinal plane, and consequently the
length of the inboard portions of the oars varied according as the
curve of the vessel's side approached or receded from this vertical
plane. The seats occupied by the rowers in the successive tiers were
arranged one above the other in oblique lines sloping upwards towards
the stem, as shown in Figs. 14 and 15. The vertical distance between the
seats was about 2 ft. The horizontal gap between the benches in each
tier was about 3 ft. The seats were some 9 in. wide, and foot-supports
were fixed to each for the use of the rower next above and behind. The
oars were so arranged that the blades in each tier all struck the water
in the same fore and aft line. The lower oar-ports were about 3 ft., the
middle 4-1/4 ft., and the upper 5-1/2 ft., above the water. The water
was prevented from entering the ports by means of leather bags fastened
round the oars and to the sides of the oar-ports. The upper oars were
about 14 ft. long, the middle 10 ft., and the lower 7-1/2 ft., and in
addition to these there were a few extra oars which were occasionally
worked from the platform, or deck, above the upper tier, probably by the
seamen and soldiers when they were not otherwise occupied. The benches
for the rowers extended from the sides to timber supports, inboard,
arranged in vertical planes fore and aft. There were two sets of these
timbers, one belonging to each side of the ship, and separated by a
space of 7 ft. These timbers also connected the upper and lower decks
together. The latter was about 1 ft. above the water-line. Below the
lower deck was the hold which contained the ballast, and in which the
apparatus for baling was fixed.

In addition to oars, sails were used as a means of propulsion whenever
the wind was favourable, but not in action.

The Athenian galleys had, at first, one mast, but afterwards, it is
thought, two were used. The mainmast was furnished with a yard and
square sail.

The upper deck, which was the fighting-platform previously mentioned,
was originally a flying structure, and, perhaps, did not occupy the full
width of the vessel amidships. At the bow, however, it was connected by
planking with the sides of the ship, so as to form a closed-in space, or
forecastle. This forecastle would doubtless have proved of great use in
keeping the ship dry during rough weather, and probably suggested
ultimately the closed decking of the whole of the ship. There is no
record of when this feature, which was general in ancient Egyptian
vessels, was introduced into Greek galleys. It was certainly in use in
the Roman warships about the commencement of the Christian era, for
there is in the Vatican a relief of about the date 50 A.D. from the
Temple of Fortune at Præneste, which represents part of a bireme, in
which the rowers are all below a closed deck, on which the soldiers are

In addition to the fighting-deck proper there were the two side
platforms, or gangways, already alluded to, which were carried right
round the outside of the vessel on about the same level as the benches
of the upper tier of rowers. These platforms projected about 18 to 24
in. beyond the sides of the hull, and were supported on brackets. Like
the flying deck, these passages were intended for the accommodation of
the soldiers and sailors, who could, by means of them, move freely round
the vessel without interfering with the rowers. They were frequently
fenced in with stout planking on the outside, so as to protect the
soldiers. They do not appear to have been used on galleys of the
earliest period.

We have no direct evidence as to the dimensions of ships of four and
five banks. Polybios tells us that the crew of a Roman quinquereme in
the first Carthaginian War, at a battle fought in 256 B.C., numbered
300, in addition to 120 soldiers. Now, the number 300 can be obtained by
adding two banks of respectively 64 and 62 rowers to the 172 of the
trireme. We may, perhaps, infer that the quinquereme of that time was a
little longer than the trireme, and had about 3 ft. more freeboard, this
being the additional height required to accommodate two extra banks of
oars. Three hundred years later than the above-mentioned date Pliny
tells us that this type of galley carried 400 rowers.

We know no detailed particulars of vessels having a greater number of
banks than five till we get to the alleged forty-banker of Ptolemy
Philopater. Of this ship Callixenos gives the following
particulars:--Her dimensions were: length, 420 ft.; breadth, 57 ft.;
draught, under 6 ft.; height of stern ornament above water-line, 79 ft.
6 in.; height of stem ornament, 72 ft.; length of the longest oars, 57
ft. The oars were stated to have been weighted with lead inboard, so as
to balance the great overhanging length. The number of the rowers was
4,000, and of the remainder of the crew 3,500, making a total of 7,500
men, for whom, we are asked to believe, accommodation was found on a
vessel of the dimensions given. This last statement is quite sufficient
to utterly discredit the whole story, as it implies that each man had a
cubic space of only about 130 ft. to live in, and that, too, in the
climate of Egypt. Moreover, if we look into the question of the oars we
shall see that the dimensions given are absolutely impossible--that is
to say, if we make the usual assumption that the banks were successive
horizontal tiers of oars placed one above the other. There were said to
have been forty banks. Now, the smallest distance, vertically, between
two successive banks, if the oar-ports were arranged as in Fig. 14, with
the object of economizing space in the vertical direction to the
greatest possible degree, would be 1 ft. 3 in. If the lowest oar-ports
were 3 ft. above the water, and the topmost bank were worked on the
gunwale, we should require, to accommodate forty banks, a height of side
equal to 39 ft. × 1 ft. 3 in. + 3 ft. = 51 ft. 9 in. Now, if the
inboard portion of the 57 ft. oar were only one-fourth of the whole
length, or 14 ft. 3 in., this would leave 57 ft. - 14 ft. 3 in. = 42 ft.
9 in. for the outboard portion, and as the height of gunwale on which
this particular length of oar was worked must have been, as shown above,
51 ft. 9 in. above the water, it is evident that the outboard portion of
the oar could not be made to touch the water at all. Also, if we
consider the conditions of structural strength of the side of a ship
honeycombed with oar-ports, and standing to the enormous height of 51
ft. 9 in. above the water-line, it is evident that, in order to be
secure, it would require to be supported by numerous tiers of transverse
horizontal beams, similar to deck-beams, running from side to side. The
planes of these tiers would intersect the inboard portions of many of
the tiers of oars, and consequently prevent these latter from being
fitted at all.

If we look at the matter from another point of view we shall meet with
equally absurd results. The oars in the upper banks of Athenian triremes
are known to have been about 14 ft. in length. Underneath them, were, of
course, two other banks. If, now, we assume that the upper bank tholes
were 5 ft. 6 in.[10] above the water-line, and that one-quarter of the
length of the upper bank oars was inboard, and if we add thirty-seven
additional banks parallel to the first bank, so as to make forty in all,
simple proportion will show us that the outboard portion of the oars of
the uppermost bank must have been just under 99 ft. long and the total
length of each, if we assume, as before, that one quarter of it was
inboard, would be 132 ft., instead of the 57 ft. given by Callixenos.
Any variations in the above assumptions, consistent with possibilities,
would only have the effect of bringing the oars out still longer. We
are therefore driven to conclude, either that the account given by
Callixenos was grossly inaccurate, or else that the Greek word, [Greek:
tessarakontêrês], which we translate by "forty-banked ship," did not
imply that there were forty horizontal _superimposed_ tiers of oars.

The exact arrangement of the oars in the larger classes of galleys has
always been a puzzle, and has formed the subject of much controversy
amongst modern writers on naval architecture. The vessels were
distinguished, according to the numbers of the banks of oars, as
uniremes, biremes, triremes, quadriremes, etc., up to ships like the
great galley of Ptolemy Philopater, which was said to have had forty
banks. Now, the difficulty is to know what is meant by a bank of oars.
It was formerly assumed that the term referred to the horizontal tiers
of oars placed one above the other; but it can easily be proved, by
attempting to draw the galleys with the oars and rowers in place, that
it would be very difficult to accommodate as many as five horizontal
banks and absolutely impossible to find room for more than seven. Not
only would the space within the hull of the ship be totally insufficient
for the rowers, but the length of the upper tiers of oars would be so
great that they would be unmanageable, and that of the lower tiers so
small that they would be inefficient. The details given by ancient
writers throw very little light upon this difficult subject. Some
authors have stated that there was only one man to each oar, and we now
know that this was the case with the smaller classes of vessels, say, up
to those provided with three, or four, to five banks of oars; but it is
extremely improbable that the oars of the larger classes could have been
so worked. The oars of modern Venetian galleys were each manned by five
rowers. It is impossible in this work to examine closely into all the
rival theories as to what constituted a bank of oars. It seems
improbable, for reasons before stated, that any vessel could have had
more than five horizontal tiers. It is certain also that, in order to
find room for the rowers to work above each other in these tiers, the
oar-ports must have been placed, not vertically above each other, but in
oblique rows, as represented in Fig. 14. It is considered by Mr. W. S.
Lindsay, in his "History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce,"
that each of the oblique rows of oars, thus arranged, may have formed
the tier referred to in the designation of the class of the vessel, for
vessels larger than quinqueremes. If this were so, there would then be
no difficulty in conceiving the possibility of constructing galleys with
even as many as forty tiers of oars like the huge alleged galley of
Ptolemy Philopater. Fig. 15 represents the disposition of the oar-ports
according to this theory for an octoreme.

[Illustration: FIG. 14.--Probable arrangement of oar-ports in ancient

[Illustration: FIG. 15.--Suggested arrangement of oar-ports in an

It appears to be certain that the oars were not very advantageously
arranged, or proportioned, in the old Greek galleys, or even in the
Roman galleys, till the time of the early Cæsars, for we read that the
average speed of the Athenian triremes was 200 stadia in the day. If the
stadium were equal in length to a furlong, and the working day supposed
to be limited to ten hours, this would correspond to a speed of only two
and a half miles an hour. The lengths of the oars in the Athenian
triremes have been already given (p. 42); even those of the upper banks
were extremely short--only, in fact, about a foot longer than those used
in modern 8-oared racing boats. On account of their shortness and the
height above the water at which they were worked, the angle which the
oars made with the water was very steep and consequently
disadvantageous. In the case of the Athenian triremes, this angle must
have been about 23.5°. This statement is confirmed by all the paintings
and sculptures which have come down to us. It is proved equally by the
painting of an Athenian bireme of 500 B.C. shown in Fig. 9, and by the
Roman trireme, founded on the sculptures of Trajan's Column of about 110
A.D., shown in Fig. 16.[11] In fact, it is evident that the ancients,
before the time of the introduction of the Liburnian galley, did not
understand the art of rowing as we do to-day. The celebrated Liburnian
galleys, which were first used by the Romans, for war purposes, at the
battle of Actium under Augustus Cæsar, were said to have had a speed of
four times that of the old triremes. The modern galleys used in the
Mediterranean in the seventeenth century are said to have occasionally
made the passage from Naples to Palermo in seventeen hours. This is
equivalent to an average speed of between 11 and 12 miles per hour.
[Illustration: FIG. 16.--Roman galley. About 110 A.D.]

[Illustration: FIG. 17.--Liburnian galley. Conjectural restoration.]

The timber used by the ancient races on the shores of the Mediterranean
in the construction of their ships appears to have been chiefly fir and
oak; but, in addition to these, many other varieties, such as pitch
pine, elm, cedar, chestnut, ilex, or evergreen oak, ash, and alder, and
even orange wood, appear to have been tried from time to time. They do
not seem to have understood the virtue of using seasoned timber, for we
read in ancient history of fleets having been completed ready for sea in
incredibly short periods after the felling of the trees. Thus, the
Romans are said to have built and equipped a fleet of 220 vessels in 45
days for the purpose of resisting the attacks of Hiero, King of
Syracuse. In the second Punic War Scipio put to sea with a fleet which
was stated to have been completed in forty days from the time the timber
was felled. On the other hand, the ancients believed in all sorts of
absurd rules as to the proper day of the moon on which to fell trees
for shipbuilding purposes, and also as to the quarter from which the
wind should blow, and so forth. Thus, Hesiod states that timber should
only be cut on the seventeenth day of the moon's age, because the sap,
which is the great cause of early decay, would then be sunk, the moon
being on the wane. Others extend the time from the fifteenth to the
twenty-third day of the moon, and appeal with confidence to the
experience of all artificers to prove that timber cut at any other
period becomes rapidly worm-eaten and rotten. Some, again, asserted that
if felled on the day of the new moon the timber would be incorruptible,
while others prescribed a different quarter from which the wind should
blow for every season of the year. Probably on account of the ease with
which it was worked, fir stood in high repute as a material for

The structure of the hulls of ancient ships was not dissimilar in its
main features to that of modern wooden vessels. The very earliest types
were probably without external keels. As the practice of naval
architecture advanced, keels were introduced, and served the double
purpose of a foundation for the framing of the hull and of preventing
the vessel from making leeway in a wind. Below the keel proper was a
false keel, which was useful when vessels were hauled up on shore, and
above the keelson was an upper false keel, into which the masts were
stepped. The stem formed an angle of about 70° with the water-line, and
its junction with the keel was strengthened by a stout knee-piece. The
design of the stem above water was often highly ornate. The stern
generally rose in a graceful curve, and was also lavishly ornamented.
Fig. 18 gives some illustrations of the highly ornamented extremities of
the stern and prow of Roman galleys. These show what considerable pains
the ancients bestowed on the decoration of their vessels. There was no
rudder-post, the steering having been effected by means of special
oars, as in the early Egyptian vessels. Into the keel were notched the
floor timbers, and the heads of these latter were bound together by the
keelson, or inner keel. Beams connected the top timbers of the opposite
branches of the ribs and formed the support for the deck. The planking
was put on at right angles to the frames, the butting ends of the planks
being connected by dovetails. The skin of the ship was strengthened, in
the Athenian galleys, by means of stout planks, or waling-pieces,
carried horizontally round the ship, each pair meeting together in front
of the stem, where they formed the foundations for the beaks, or rams.
The hulls were further strengthened by means of girding-cables, also
carried horizontally round the hull, in the angles formed by the
projection of the waling-pieces beyond the skin. These cables passed
through an eye-hole at the stem, and were tightened up at the stern by
means of levers. It is supposed that they were of use in holding the
ship together under the shock of ramming. The hull was made water-tight
by caulking the seams of the planking. Originally this was accomplished
with a paste formed of ground sea-shells and water. This paste, however,
not having much cohesion, was liable to crack and fall out when the
vessel strained. A slight improvement was made when the shells were
calcined and turned into lime. Pitch and wax were also employed, but
were eventually superseded by the use of flax, which was driven in
between the seams. Flax was certainly used for caulking in the time of
Alexander the Great, and a similar material has continued to be employed
for this purpose down to the present day. In addition to caulking the
seams, it was also customary to coat over the bottom with pitch, and the
Romans, at any rate, used sometimes to sheath their galleys with sheet
lead fastened to the planking with copper nails. This was proved by the
discovery of one of Trajan's galleys in Lake Riccio after it had been
submerged for over thirteen centuries.

[Illustration: FIG. 18.--Stem and stern ornaments of galleys.]

[Illustration: FIG. 19.--Bow of ancient war-galley.]

[Illustration: FIG. 20.--Bow of ancient war-galley.]

The bows of the ancient war galleys were so constructed as to act as
rams. The ram was made of hard timber projecting beyond the line of the
bow, between it and the forefoot. It was usually made of oak, elm, or
ash, even when all the rest of the hull was constructed of soft timber.
In later times it was sheathed with, or even made entirely of, bronze.
It was often highly ornamented, either with a carved head of a ram or
some other animal, as shown in Figs. 8 to 11; sometimes swords or
spear-heads were added, as shown in Figs. 19 and 20. A relic of this
ancient custom is found to this day in the ornamentation of the prows of
the Venetian gondolas. Originally the ram, or rostrum, was visible above
the water-line, but it was afterwards found to be far more effective
when wholly immersed. In addition to the rams there were side
projections, or catheads, above water near the bow. The ram was used for
sinking the opposing vessels by penetrating their hulls, and the
catheads for shattering their oars when sheering up suddenly alongside.
Roman galleys were fitted with castles, or turrets, in which were placed
fighting men and various engines of destruction. They were frequently
temporary structures, sometimes consisting of little more than a
protected platform, mounted on scaffolding, which could be easily taken
down and stowed away. The use of these structures was continued till far
into the Middle Ages.



Outside the Mediterranean it is known that some of the northern nations
had attained to very considerable skill in the arts of shipbuilding and
navigation. Cæsar gives a general description of the ships of the
Veneti, who occupied the country now known as Brittany, and who had in
their hands the carrying trade between Gaul and Britain.[12] As might be
expected from the stormy nature of the Atlantic, the Veneti were not
able to place any reliance on oars as a means for propulsion. According
to Cæsar's account, they trusted solely to sails. Their vessels were
built entirely of oak of great thickness. He also mentions that the
beams were as much as 12 in. in depth. The bottoms of these vessels were
very flat, so as to enable them the better to be laid up on the beach.
The hulls had considerable sheer, both at the stem and stern. The sails
were of dressed hide, and the cables were iron chains. It is evident
from this cursory description that the ships of the Veneti were not
based upon Mediterranean models, and it is highly probable that they,
rather than the oar-propelled galleys, may be regarded as the
prototypes of the early sea-going vessels of Northern Europe.

Although the art of ship construction had attained to great importance
amongst the Veneti, their neighbours, the Britons, were still very
backward in this respect at the time of the first Roman invasion. Cæsar
states that their vessels were of very slight construction, the
framework being made of light timber, over which was stretched a
covering, or skin, of strong hides. Sometimes the framework was of

The ancient Saxons, who were notorious as pirates on the North Sea, made
use of boats similar to those of the ancient Britons. At the time of
their invasion of Britain, however, their vessels must have been larger
and of more solid construction, though we must dismiss, as an obvious
absurdity, the statement that the first invading army of 9,000 men was
carried to this country in three ships only. It is much more probable
that the expedition was embarked in three fleets.

The Saxon kings of England often maintained very considerable fleets for
the purpose of protecting the coast from the Danes.

Alfred the Great is generally regarded as the founder of the English
Navy. He designed ships which were of a better type and larger size than
those of his enemies, the Danes. They were said to have been twice as
long as the vessels which they superseded. The Saxon Chronicle says,
"They were full twice as long as the others; some had sixty oars, and
some had more; they were swifter and steadier, and also higher than the
others; they were shaped neither like the Frisian, nor the Danish, but
so as it seemed to him they would be most efficient." In 897 Alfred met
and defeated a Danish squadron, in all probability with his new ships.

Edgar (959 to 975) is stated to have kept at sea no less than 3,600
vessels of various sizes, divided into three fleets, and the old
historian William of Malmesbury tells us that this king took an active
personal interest in his navy, and that in summer time he would, in
turn, embark and cruise with each of the squadrons.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.--Anglo-Saxon ship. About 900 A.D.]

Fig. 21 is an illustration of an Anglo-Saxon ship taken from an old
Saxon calendar, which is, or was, in the Cottonian Library, and which
is supposed to have been written about half a century before the Norman
Conquest. It is reproduced in Strutt's "Compleat View of the Manners,
Customs, Arms, Habits, etc., of the Inhabitants of England, from the
arrival of the Saxons till the reign of Henry VIII.," published in 1775.
The proportions of the boat as represented are obviously impossible. The
sketch is, however, interesting, as showing the general form and mode of
planking of the vessel, and the nature of the decorations of the bow and
stern. We see that the vessel was a warship, as the keel prolonged
formed a formidable ram. We also may notice that the sail was relied on
as a principal means of propulsion, for there are apparently no notches
or rowlocks for oars. The steering was effected by two large oars, in a
similar manner to that adopted by the ancient Egyptians and other
Mediterranean peoples. The extraordinary character of the deck-house
will be observed. It is, of course, purely symbolical, and may, at
most, be interpreted as meaning that the vessel carried some sort of
structure on deck.

In the seventh and eighth centuries of the Christian era the scene of
maritime activity was transferred from the Mediterranean to the North of
Europe. The Norsemen, who overran the whole of the European seaboard at
one time or another, were the most famous navigators of the period
immediately preceding the Middle Ages. Any record connected with their
system of ship-construction is necessarily of great interest. The fleets
of the Norsemen penetrated into the Mediterranean as far as the imperial
city of the Eastern emperors. In the north they discovered and colonized
Iceland, and even Greenland; and there are good grounds for believing
that an expedition, equipped in Iceland, founded a colony in what are
now the New England States five centuries before Columbus discovered the
West Indies. Unfortunately, the written descriptions extant of the Norse
ships are extremely meagre, and if it had not been for the curious
custom of the Norsemen of burying their great chiefs in one of their
ships and heaping earth over the entire mass, we should now know nothing
for certain of the character of their vessels. Many of these ship-tombs
have been discovered in modern times, but it happened in the majority of
instances that the character of the earth used was unsuited to their
preservation, and most of the woodwork was found to be decayed when the
mounds were explored. Fortunately, however, in two instances the vessels
were buried in blue clay, which is an excellent preserver of timber,
and, thanks to the discovery of these, we have now a tolerably complete
knowledge of the smaller classes of vessels used by the Vikings. One of
them was discovered, in 1867, at Haugen, but by far the most important
was found in 1880, at Gogstad, near Sandefjord, at the entrance of the
Fjord of Christiania. Though this vessel is comparatively small, she
is, probably, a correct representative of the larger type of ships made
use of by the renowned adventurers of the North in their distant

In view of the great interest attaching to this find, a detailed
description of the vessel is given. The illustrations (Figs. 22 to 26),
showing an end elevation, longitudinal and cross-sections, and the
half-plan with her lines, are taken from the "Transactions of the
Institution of Naval Architects."[13] The boat was clinker-built and
wholly of oak. Her principal dimensions are: length, 77 ft. 11 in.;
extreme breadth, 16 ft. 7 in.; and depth, from top of keel to gunwale, 5
ft. 9 in. The keel is 14 in. deep, the part below the rabbet of the
garboard or lowest strakes of the planking, being 11 in. deep, and 4-1/2
in. thick at the bottom. The width across the rabbet is 3 in., while the
portion above the rabbet and inboard is 7 in. wide. The keel and stem
and stern-posts run into each other with very gentle curves. The keel
itself is 57 ft. long, and to it are connected, by vertical scarves and
a double row of iron rivets, the forefoot and heel-pieces, which latter
are fastened in a similar manner to the stem and stern-post. These posts
are 15 in. deep at the scarf, gradually tapering upwards. The framing of
the bottom is formed of grown floors resting on the top of the keel, and
extending in one piece, from shelf to shelf, as shown on the transverse
section (Fig. 23). There are nineteen of these floors in all, spaced in
the body of the boat, on the average 3 ft. 3 in. apart. They are 4 in.
in diameter at the garboard strake, and taper in both dimensions, so
that they are less than 3 in. at the shelf. They are not fastened to the
keel. The planking is put on clinker fashion. There are sixteen strakes
a side, the breadth of each, amidships, being on the average 9-1/2 in.,
including the land of 1 in., and the length of planks varies from 8
ft. to 24 ft. The thickness is generally 1 in. The tenth plank from the
keel is, however, 1-3/4 in. thick, and forms a kind of shelf for the
beam-ends. The third plank from the top is 1-1/4 in. thick, and is
pierced with 4-in. holes for the oars, of which there are sixteen on
each side. The two upper strakes are only 3/4 in. thick, and inside the
top one is placed the gunwale, which is 3 × 4-1/2. The planks are
fastened together by iron rivets spaced from 6 in. to 8 in. apart. The
heads of the rivets are 1 in. in diameter, and the riveting plates 1/2
in. square. The planks are worked down from thicker slabs, and a ledge 1
in. in height is left on the inboard surface of the middle of each
plank. The planks bear against each floor at two points, viz. the upper
edge and the projecting ledge. Fig. 24 shows a section of a floor and of
the plank, with its projecting ledge. The fastenings of the planking to
the floors are very peculiar. Two holes are bored transversely in the
ledge, one on either side of each floor. There is a corresponding hole
running fore and aft through the floor, and through these holes are
passed ties made of the tough roots of trees barely 1/4 in. in diameter,
crossed on the ledge and passing once through each hole. The only iron
fastening between the planking and the floors is at the extreme ends of
the latter, where a single nail is driven through each, and riveted at
the ends of the floors. The beams rest on the shelf strake and on the
tops of the floor-ends. They are 7 in. deep and 4 in. wide. They are
connected with the planking by knees (see the section, Fig. 23),
fastened to their upper faces and to the side of the ship as far up as
the oar-strake, or "mainwale," by means of oak trenails. The knees are
not so wide as the beams, and consequently a ledge, or landing, is left
on each side of the latter which supports the flooring, or bottom
boards. The top strakes are connected to the body of the vessel by short
timbers, shown in the section, Fig. 23. These are placed in the spaces
between the knees. The beams are supported in the middle by short
pillars resting on the throats of the floors.

[Illustration: FIG. 22.

FIG. 25.

FIG. 26.

FIG. 24.

FIG. 23.

Viking ship.]

The vessel was propelled by sails as well as oars. It was fitted with a
single mast; the arrangements for stepping and raising and lowering the
latter were peculiar. A beam of oak, 11 ft. long, 19 in. wide, and 14
in. deep, formed the step. A side elevation of this is shown at _s_, in
the longitudinal section, Fig. 25, and a cross-section in Fig. 23. The
step, as may be seen, is countersunk over the throats of the floors; it
is tapered towards the ends, and a piece (_c_) nearly 12 in. thick,
immediately forward of the mast, rises vertically out of it. This piece
is fastened to a huge log of oak, 16 ft. long, 38 in. broad, and 14 in.
deep in the middle, marked _f_ (Figs. 25 and 26), which rests on a
sole-piece about 4 in. thick. The sole-piece is countersunk over the
beams. The large log is called by Mr. Colin Archer the "fish," partly
because its ends are fashioned to represent the tails of two whales, and
partly because the mast partners of modern ships, which take the place
of this heavy piece, are to this day called _Fisken_ in Norway. The fish
contains a slot (_h_) nearly 6 ft. long, and the same width as the mast,
12-1/2 in. The mast goes through the forward end of the slot, and when
it is in use the slot is filled up with a heavy slab. When the mast is
lowered for going into action, or when going against a head-wind, the
slab is removed, and the fore-stay slacked off, thus permitting the mast
to fall aft. The sail used was a solitary square one. The rudder
resembles a short oar. It is hung by a rope passing through a perforated
conical chock on the starboard side of the ship. There is an iron
eyebolt near the bottom edge, through which a rope probably passed for
the purpose of raising the rudder when not in use. The rudder was worked
by means of a tiller fitted into the socket at the upper end.

Unfortunately, the two extreme ends of the ship have decayed away, so
that it is not possible to determine with accuracy what was the
appearance of the bow and stern. It is, however, probable, from the
direction taken by the planking towards the ends, that the vessel
possessed very considerable sheer. As may be seen from the plan, the
character of the lines was extremely fine, and it is probable that the
boat was capable of high speed. The remains of the ropes which have been
discovered prove that they were made from the bark of trees.

This vessel may be considered as a connecting link between the ancient
and mediæval types of ships. Her proportions and scantlings prove that
her builders had a large experience of shipbuilding, that they fully
understood how to work their material and to adapt it properly to the
duty it had to fulfil, and also that they understood the art, which was
subsequently lost, to be revived only in modern times, of shaping the
underwater portion of the hull so as to reduce the resistance to the
passage of the vessel through the water. The only part of the structural
design to which any serious exception can be taken is the very slight
character of the connection between the top sides and the body of the
boat, and even this defect was probably not very serious when we take
into account the lightness of the loading, and the fact that it probably
consisted chiefly of live cargo, so that there was little dead weight to
cause serious straining.

Vessels of the type of the Viking ships were built in Denmark at a very
early date. In 1865 three boats were discovered buried in a peat bog in
Jutland. Danish antiquaries consider that they were built about the
fifth century of our era. The largest is 70 ft. in length and of such an
excellent type that boats of somewhat similar form and construction are
in universal use to this day all round the coasts of Norway. Such an
instance of persistency in type is without parallel in the history of
shipbuilding, and is a wonderful proof of the skill of the Norsemen in
designing and building vessels. The boat in question is clinker-built,
the planks having the same peculiarities as those of the Viking ship
just described. It is of the same shape at both ends, and has great
sheer at both stem and stern. The rowlocks, of which there are thirty,
prove that the vessel was intended to be rowed in either direction. This
also is a peculiarity of the modern Norwegian rowboat. The steering was
effected by means of a large oar, or paddle. There is no trace of a
mast, nor of any fitting to receive one; nor was the vessel decked. The
internal framing was admirably contrived. In fact, it would be
difficult, even at the present time, to find a vessel in which lightness
and strength were better combined than in this fifteen-hundred-year-old
specimen of the shipbuilder's art.



In the times of the Norman kings of England both the war and the
mercantile navies of the country were highly developed. William the
Conqueror invaded this island without the assistance of a war navy. He
trusted to good luck to transport his army across the Channel in an
unprotected fleet of small vessels which were built for this purpose,
and which were burnt by his order when the landing had been effected. We
possess illustrations of these transport vessels from a contemporary
source--the Bayeux tapestry, which was, according to tradition, the work
of Queen Matilda, the Conqueror's consort. Fig. 27 represents one of
these vessels. It is obviously of Scandinavian type, resembling in some
of its features the Viking ship shown in Figs. 22 to 26. Apparently,
oars were not used in this particular boat; the propulsion was effected
by means of a single square sail. The mast unshipped, as we know from
other illustrations on the same piece of tapestry. The steering was
effected by a rudder, or steering-board, on the starboard-side. In all
the illustrations of ships in this tapestry the main sheet was held by
the steersman, a fact which shows that the Normans were cautious
navigators. Another ship is represented with ten horses on board.

We possess confirmatory evidence that the ship shown in Fig. 27
represents a type that was prevalent on our coasts in the eleventh and
two following centuries, for very similar boats are shown in the
transcript of Matthew Paris's "History of the Two Kings of Offa" (now
in the Cottonian Library), the illustrations in which are supposed to
have been drawn by Matthew Paris himself. The history is that of two
Saxon princes who lived in the latter half of the eighth century, and
was written in the first half of the thirteenth. We may fairly suppose
that the illustrations represented the types of vessels with which the
historian was familiar. They were all of the type depicted in the Bayeux
tapestry. They are of the same shape at both ends, just like the Viking
ship, and it may be added, like the boats to this day in common use
along the coasts of Norway.

[Illustration: FIG. 27.--One of William the Conqueror's ships. 1066

It must not be supposed that the art of building ships of larger size,
which was, as we have seen, well understood by the Romans, about the
commencement of our era, was forgotten. On the contrary, though, no
doubt, the majority of ships of the eleventh and twelfth centuries were
of small dimensions, yet we occasionally meet with notices of vessels of
comparatively large size. Such an one, for instance, was _La Blanche
Nef_, built in the reign of Henry I., and lost on the coast of Normandy
in the year 1120 A.D. This ship was built for Prince William, the son of
the King, and he was lost in her, together with 300 passengers and crew.
This number proves that the vessel was of considerable size. _La Blanche
Nef_ was a fifty-oared galley. Long before her time, at the end of the
tenth century, when Ethelred the Unready was King of England, the Viking
Olaf Tryggvesson built, according to the Norwegian chroniclers, a vessel
117 ft. in length.

It may here be mentioned that galleys continued to be used, along with
sailing ships, in the various European navies till the seventeenth

Another instance of the loss of a large twelfth-century ship occurred in
the reign of Henry II., half a century later than the wreck of _La
Blanche Nef_, when a vessel engaged in transport work foundered with 400

In the reign of Richard Coeur de Lion a great impetus was given to
shipbuilding and to maritime adventure in this country by the expedition
which the king undertook to the Holy Land. A fleet of about 110 vessels,
according to Peter Langtoft, sailed from Dartmouth in April, 1190 A.D.
It was reinforced considerably in the Mediterranean; for, according to
Matthew Paris, Richard was accompanied on his voyage to Palestine by 13
buccas, 100 "ships of burthen," and 50 triremes, and according to
Vinesauf, the fleet consisted of about 230 vessels. The buccas, or
busses, or dromons, were ships of the largest size, with triple sails.
There were two sorts of galleys; some were propelled by oars alone, and
others by oars and sails: the latter were the larger, and, according to
Matthew Paris, sometimes carried 60 men in armour, besides 104 rowers
and the sailors. He also states that some of them had triple banks of
oars like the ancient galleys; but, according to Vinesauf, the majority
had not more than two banks of oars, and carried the traditional flying
deck above the rowers for the use of the soldiers; they were low in the
water compared to the sailing-ships, and they carried beaks, or rams,
which, as narrated subsequently, they used to some purpose.

The larger type of sailing-ships carried a captain and fifteen sailors,
forty knights with their horses, an equal number of men-at-arms,
fourteen servants, and complete stores for twelve months. There were,
moreover, three much larger vessels in the fleet which carried double
the complement mentioned above.

As an instance of the very large size to which vessels occasionally
attained in those days in the Levant, we may refer to a Saracen vessel
which was attacked by Richard's fleet near Beirut in Syria, in 1191. It
was described by many of the old chroniclers. This ship had three masts,
and is alleged to have had 1,500 men on board at the time of the fight.
The attack was carried out with great difficulty, on account of the
towering height of the sides of the Saracen vessel, and it was not till
ramming tactics were tried by the galleys charging in line abreast, that
her hull was stove in, in several places, and she went down with nearly
all hands, only thirty-five, or, according to other accounts forty-six,
having been saved.

These large ships appear to have been used by other Mediterranean Powers
towards the end of the twelfth century. For instance, a great Venetian
ship visited Constantinople in 1172 A.D., of which it was stated that
"no vessel of so great a bulk had ever been within that port." This
vessel is mentioned by Cinnamis, Marino, and Filiasi, and others, but
her dimensions are not given. It is, however, known that she had three
masts. Cinnamis, who was at Constantinople at this very time, states
that she received from 1,500 to 2,000 Venetian refugees on board, and
conveyed them to the Adriatic. The Venetians are said to have employed
another very large ship at the siege of Ancona in 1157 A.D. On account
of its size it was named _Il Mondo_.

The Republic of Venice was, during the time of which we are writing, and
for a long subsequent period, the foremost maritime power of the world.
It is highly probable that many of the improvements which found their
way into mediæval ships owed their origin to its great naval arsenal,
which was famed for its resources and for the technical skill of its
employés. At one time this arsenal employed 16,000 workmen, and during
the great struggle of the Republic with the Turks at the end of the
sixteenth century it turned out a completed and fully equipped galley
every day for a hundred days in succession. During the Crusades, Venice
and the rival Republic of Genoa secured between them the great bulk of
the business involved in transporting troops and stores to the East, and
they frequently hired out their war and merchant ships to other Powers.

Shortly after the Crusade of Richard Coeur de Lion the trade and
shipping of England appear to have undergone great expansion. In the
reign of Henry III. (1216 to 1272) the historian, Matthew of
Westminster, writes of them in a strain which might almost apply to our
own day:--

   "Oh England, whose antient glory is renowned among all nations, like
   the pride of the Chaldeans; the ships of Tarsis could not compare
   with thy ships; they bring from all the quarters of the world
   aromatic spices and all the most precious things of the universe: the
   sea is thy wall, and thy ports are as the gates of a strong and
   well-furnished castle."

In another place the same historian writes of the English trade as

   "The Pisans, Genoese, and Venetians supply England with the Eastern
   gems, as saphires, emeralds, and carbuncles; from Asia was brought
   the rich silks and purples; from Africa the cinnamon and balm; from
   Spain the kingdom was enriched with gold; with silver from Germany;
   from Flanders came the rich materials for the garments of the people;
   while plentiful streams of wine flowed from their own province of
   Gascoigny; joined with everything that was rich and pretious from
   every land, wide stretching from the Hyades to the Arcturian Star."

No doubt this expansion was due, in part, to the very large
participation which the English fleet took in the Crusade. Great numbers
of English mariners were thus enabled to penetrate into seas that were
new to them, and had opportunities of studying the commercial needs of
the countries which bordered on those seas. Another cause which
powerfully contributed to the development of navigation, and
consequently of shipbuilding, was the introduction of the mariner's
compass into Western Europe during the first half of the thirteenth

The English war navy, also at the commencement of the reign of Henry
II., appears to have been in a very efficient condition. Matthew Paris
gives a description of a great naval fight off the South Foreland, in
the year 1217, between a Cinque Ports Fleet under the famous Hubert de
Burgh, who was at the time Governor of Dover Castle, and a large French
fleet under a monk of the name of Eustace, who was one of the most
skilful naval commanders of his day. The English fleet consisted of
forty vessels, of which only sixteen were large and manned with trained
sailors. The French fleet, which was endeavouring to carry a strong
invading army to England, was made up of eighty large vessels, besides
numerous galleys and smaller craft. The account of the battle is most
interesting, because it throws a flood of light upon the naval tactics
and the weapons of offence of the day. The English commander
manoeuvred for the wind, and having got it, he bore down on the French
fleet, and attacked their rear ships with flights of arrows carrying
phials of unslaked lime, which being scattered and carried by the wind,
blinded the Frenchmen; boarding was then attempted with perfect
success, the rigging and halyards of the French ships were cut away,
causing the sails to fall upon their crews. A hand-to-hand combat then
took place, which resulted in fearful slaughter of the would-be
invaders: several of the French ships were rammed and sunk by the
English galleys, and in the end the whole of the hostile fleet, with the
exception of fifteen vessels, was taken or sunk. This was one of the
most momentous naval battles in English history, and is memorable as
having furnished the first recorded instance of a battle having been
preceded by manoevres to obtain the weather-gauge.

[Illustration: FIG. 28. Sandwich seal. 1238.]

[Illustration: FIG. 29.--Dover seal. 1284.]

We have, unfortunately, very few illustrations of the thirteenth-century
ships, and those which we do possess are taken from the corporate seals
of some of the Cinque Ports and other southern seaport towns. Fig. 28 is
a representation of the seal of Sandwich, and dates from the year 1238.
The circular form of a seal is not very favourable for the
representation of a masted ship, but we can at least make out that the
vessel in question is of the Scandinavian type used by William I. and
his successors. It also appears to have been an open boat, and contains
the germs of the castellated structures fore and aft, which, as we shall
see afterwards, attained to the most exaggerated dimensions. In the case
of the Sandwich ship these castles were not incorporated with the
structure of the vessel; they were merely elevated positions for the use
of the archers and men-at-arms, and were mounted on columns, and were
probably removable. We can also learn from the engraving that the
practice of furling sails aloft was practised at that time. Fig. 29 is
the seal of Dover, and dates from the reign of Edward I. (1284 A.D.). It
does not show much progress over the Sandwich boat of nearly fifty
years earlier, but we may notice that the castles are more developed and
of a more permanent character. This vessel also possesses a bowsprit.

It was about the middle of this century that cabins appear to have been
introduced into English ships. The first mention of them occurs in 1242,
when orders were given that "decent chambers" were to be constructed in
a ship in which the king and queen were to voyage to Gascony.

There are records in existence of the dimensions of some vessels which
were built for Louis IX. of France in the year 1268 A.D. at Venice and
Genoa. They are published in Jal's "Archéologie Navale." The Venetian
ship which was named the _Roccafortis_ appears to have been the largest.
Her dimensions are given as follows: length of keel, 70 ft.; length over
all, 110 ft.; width at prow and poop, 40 ft. This latter dimension is
hardly credible. The _Roccafortis_ had two covered decks, and a castle
or "bellatorium" at each end, and also several cabins. The crew numbered

The Genoese ships were smaller. Two of them were of identical
dimensions, viz. length of keel, 49-1/2 ft.; length over all, 75 ft.;
beam, 10 ft. The figure given for the beam appears to be too small in
this case, if the dimensions of the mast, 70-1/2 ft., are correct, for
such a long mast could hardly have been carried in so narrow a boat.
These vessels had two decks, and are said to have had stabling for fifty
horses each; but this latter statement cannot be true if the dimensions
are accurately given.

We have very little information about the ships of the end of the
thirteenth and commencement of the fourteenth centuries. There is a list
in existence of Cinque Ports ships which were fitted out in 1299 to take
part in the war against Scotland. They were thirty in number. More than
half of them had complements of two constables and thirty-nine
mariners, and the smallest had one constable and nineteen mariners.
There is also a statement of the tonnage and complements of ships
intended for an expedition to Guienne in the year 1324, which throws
some light on the size of the vessels employed in the Scottish
expedition. From it we learn that a ship of 240 tons had 60 mariners and
officers; one of 200 tons, 50; vessels between 160 and 180 tons, 40; of
140 tons, 35; of 120 tons, 28; of 100 tons, 26; of 80 tons, 24; and of
60 tons, 21. From the above we may infer that the largest vessels in the
Cinque Ports' squadron of 1,299 were from 160 to 180 tons. The measure
of a ton in those early days was probably the cubic space occupied by a
tun of wine of 252 gallons in the hold of a ship.

We possess one representation of an English ship of the date of this
expedition to Guienne. It was engraved on the seal of the Port of Poole
in the year 1325 (Fig. 30). It is remarkable as the earliest known
instance of an English ship fitted with a rudder at the stern instead of
the side-rudder, or paddle, which had been in use from the very earliest
times. We also notice in this ship a further development of the stern
and forecastles, which, however, were not as yet fully incorporated with
the structure of the hull.

The reign of Edward III., which commenced in 1327, was, in consequence
of the wars with Scotland and France, one of great naval activity. After
some years of desultory naval warfare in the Channel, a famous sea fight
took place at Sluys, in Dutch Flanders, about ten miles north-east of
Blankenberghe, in the year 1340. The English fleet consisted of about
200 ships under the personal command of Edward III. The allied French
and Genoese fleet numbered, according to the English king, 190, and was
composed of ships, galleys, and barges, while some of the chroniclers
have put its numbers at as many as 400 sail, but this would probably
include many small craft. The battle resulted in the capture, or
destruction, of nearly the whole French fleet. The English are said to
have lost 4,000 men killed, and the French 25,000. In one vessel, named
the _Jeanne de Dieppe_, captured by the Earl of Huntingdon, no fewer
than 400 dead bodies were found. The latter figure shows that some very
large vessels were used at this battle.

[Illustration: FIG. 30.--Poole seal. 1325.]

Edward III. caused a gold noble to be struck in 1344 bearing the
representation of a ship almost precisely similar to the vessel on the
seal of Poole, of about twenty years earlier (Fig. 30). It is fitted
with a rudder at the stern, and we may therefore conclude that at this
period the side-rudder, or clavus, had disappeared from all important
vessels. The fore and stern castles were, in most cases, temporary
additions to merchant ships, to adapt them for purposes of warfare. In
fact, nearly all the sailing-ships used in naval warfare down to, and
even after the fourteenth century, appear to have been employed as
merchant vessels in time of peace; and this remark applies even to the
king's ships. It was, no doubt, the introduction of artillery that first
caused the sailing warship to be differentiated from the merchantman.
Although gunpowder for military purposes is said to have been used on
land as early as 1326, and although iron and brass cannon are mentioned
amongst the stores of three of the king's ships in 1338, nevertheless,
the battle of Sluys and the subsequent naval engagements in the reign of
Edward III. appear to have been fought without artillery. It was not
till the last quarter of the fourteenth century that guns became at all
common on board ship.

In the year 1345 Edward III. invaded France, and was accompanied by a
fleet of from 1,000 to 1,100 ships, besides small craft. Two hundred of
these vessels were employed after the king's landing in ravaging the
northern coasts of France and destroying the hostile shipping.

In the year 1347 Edward organised another great naval expedition against
France, this time in order to give him the command of the sea during his
siege of Calais. The fleet was drawn from all the ports of the kingdom,
and small contingents came from Ireland, Flanders, Spain, and the king's
own possession of Bayonne. There are two lists in existence of the
numbers of ships and men contributed by each port to this expedition.
They agree very closely. According to one of them, the united fleet
consisted of 745 ships, and 15,895 mariners, or an average of about
twenty mariners to each ship. This figure, of course, does not include
the fighting men. About fifty of these vessels were fighting ships
fitted with castles, and the remainder were barges, ballingers (which
appear to have been a kind of large barge), and transports. The largest
contingents, by far, came from Yarmouth, which contributed 43 ships and
1,950 men; Fowey sent 47 ships and 770 men; and Dartmouth supplied 32
ships and 756 men; while London, independently of the king's own
vessels, sent only 25 ships manned with 662 men.

In 1350 Edward III. and the Black Prince fought a famous naval battle
off Winchelsea against a fleet of forty Spanish ships. The battle is
generally known by the name of L'Espagnols-sur-Mer. Edward was
victorious, though he lost his own ship, through its springing a leak
when colliding with one of the Spanish vessels. The tactics of the
English consisted chiefly of boarding, while the Spaniards, whose
vessels were much the higher, attacked with cross-bows and heavy stones;
the latter they hurled from their fighting-tops into their adversaries'

From the foregoing, we can infer that the naval resources of England in
the first half of the reign of Edward III. were very great. During the
latter half of his reign he neglected his navy, and the French and
Spaniards, in spite of all their previous losses, rapidly gained the
upper hand at sea, and ravaged the English coasts. In 1372 the Spanish
fleet assisting the French inflicted a severe defeat upon an inferior
English squadron which had been sent to the relief of La Rochelle. This
battle is memorable because it was, probably, the first sea-fight in
which artillery was employed, the Spanish ships having been partly armed
with the new weapon. The Venetians are usually credited with having been
the first people to employ naval guns; but we do not find them using
artillery against the Genoese till the year 1377.

The introduction of cannon as the armament of ships of war was the cause
of several modifications in the construction of their hulls. Most of the
early vessels fitted with cannon were of the galley type, the guns being
mounted on the upper deck, and fired over the bulwarks, _en barbette_.
Afterwards portholes were cut through the bulwarks. Fig. 31 represents
a Venetian galley of the fourteenth century, as given by Charnock, with
a single gun mounted in the bow.

[Illustration: FIG. 31.--Venetian galley. Fourteenth century.]

The new form of armament of ships involved a considerable raising of the
height of side, and in order to counteract the effect of the high
topside, carrying the weight of guns aloft, the beam of the vessel
relatively to its length had to be much increased. The Venetians were,
however, afraid to make the transverse section wide throughout, lest the
weight of the guns near the sides of the vessel should cause the
connection of the sides with the beams to strain; hence they gave the
sides considerable "tumble home," or fall inboard, as represented by
Fig. 32, which shows the cross-section of a Venetian galleon. It will be
noticed that the width of the upper deck is only about half that of the
greatest beam. This practice was afterwards carried to an absurd extent
by the Venetians and their imitators, even in cases where guns were not
carried aloft, as may be seen from the sketch of a galleon given in Fig.
33. Hence it is evident that the introduction of ordnance on board ship
accounted for a complete revolution in the proportions of hulls hitherto
in vogue. The rig of ships also underwent a considerable development
about this period. The old single mast of the galley was supplemented by
two and in some cases by three others. The sails were still square sails
carried on spars, and the practice of reefing the sails to the spars
aloft, instead of lowering spars and sails together on deck, had now
become common.

[Illustration: FIG. 32.--Cross-section of a Venetian galleon.]

Two years after the action off La Rochelle we find the French commencing
the construction of a Royal Navy at Rouen. This step was taken in
consequence of the strong opinion held by Jean de Vienne, who was
appointed Admiral of France in 1373, that vessels built specially for
the purposes of war would have a great advantage over the hired
merchantmen which had to be adapted for fighting each time they were

It is highly probable that the latter half of the fourteenth century
witnessed many improvements in ships built in the Mediterranean. This
was no doubt due, in part, to the intense commercial rivalry that
existed at that time between Venice and the other Italian Republics.
Fig. 34 is taken from a MS. Virgil in the Riccardi Library, reproduced
in M. Jal's[14] work. It represents an Italian two-masted sailing-ship
of this period. This is one of the earliest illustrations of a ship
with a permanent forecastle forming part of the structure of the
vessel. The stern castle also appears to have a permanent, though not a
structural character. Ships of somewhat similar type were used in
England in the reign of Richard II. at the end of the fourteenth
century. Fig. 35 represents one of them, the original being in an
illustrated manuscript in the Harleian Library. It was written by a
Frenchman of the name of Francis de la Marque in Richard's reign. There
are illustrations in manuscripts still in existence written about this
period, which confirm the fact that this type of ship was then

[Illustration: FIG. 33.--Venetian galleon. 1564.]

The reign of Henry V. (1413 to 1422) was one of great naval development.
The king himself took a most ardent interest in the Royal Navy, and
frequently inspected the ships during their construction. Under his
auspices some very large vessels were built for the fleet. Lists of this
king's ships are still in existence. They are classified under the
names Great Ships, Cogs, Carracks, Ships, Barges, and Ballingers. The
largest of the great ships was the _Jesus_, of 1,000 tons; the
_Holigost_, of 760; the _Trinity Royal_, of 540; and the _Christopher
Spayne_, of 600; the last-mentioned was a prize captured by the Earl of
Huntingdon. The majority of the ships were, however, from 420 to 120
tons. The carracks were apparently not English-built ships, as all those
in the king's navy were prizes captured in 1416 and 1417. The three
largest were of 600, 550, and 500 tons respectively. The barges are
given as of 100 tons, and the ballingers ranged from 120 to 80 tons. The
total strength of the Royal Navy about the year 1420, as given in the
list compiled by W. M. Oppenheim from the accounts of the keepers of
the king's ships, is 38; of these 17 were ships, 7 carracks, 2 barges,
and 12 ballingers. It is worthy of notice that there were no galleys
included in the list.

[Illustration: FIG. 34.--Italian sailing ship. 15th century.]

[Illustration: FIG. 35.--English ship. Time of Richard II.]

Henry invaded France in 1415 with a fleet of 1,400 vessels, which had
been raised by impressing every British ship of 20 tons and upwards. The
home supply not being sufficient for his purpose, Henry sent
commissioners to Holland and Zealand to hire additional vessels. In all
1,500 ships were collected and 1,400 utilised. These figures give us a
fair idea of the resources of this country in shipping at that time.

This was the invasion which resulted in the victory of Agincourt and the
capture of Harfleur. In the year following (1416) France was again
invaded and the fleet was stated by some to have numbered 300, and by
others 400 ships. A naval battle was fought off Harfleur. It resulted in
a complete victory for Henry. The old tactics and the old weapons seem
to have been used. Although, as we have seen, guns had been used in
sea-fights nearly forty years previously, there is no mention of their
having been employed on either side at this battle.

In 1417 the king again collected 1,500 vessels at Southampton for a
fresh invasion of France. Having first obtained the command of the sea
by a naval victory over the French and Genoese, a landing was duly
effected near Harfleur. Several vessels, including four large carracks,
were captured in the sea-fight, and were added to the king's navy.

During the reign of Henry V. the Mercantile Marine of England made no
progress. Commerce was checked in consequence of the state of war which
prevailed, and the improvements in shipbuilding seem to have been
confined to the Royal Navy. It seems probable, however, that the
experience gained in the construction and navigation of the very large
ships which the king added to the navy had its effect, ultimately, in
improving the type of merchant-vessels.

[Illustration: FIG. 36.--English ship. Time of Henry VI.]

During the forty years of the reign of Henry VI. England was so greatly
exhausted and impoverished by war with France and by internal
dissensions at home, that commerce and shipbuilding made little
progress. We possess a sketch of a ship of the early part of the reign
of Henry VI. It is contained in a manuscript in the Harleian Library of
the date, probably, of 1430 to 1435. It is reproduced in Fig. 36, and
differs from the ship of the reign of Richard II. shown in Fig. 35,
chiefly in having the poop and forecastle more strongly developed.

While England was steadily declining in power from the time of the death
of Henry V., a new maritime nation was arising in South-Western Europe,
whose discoveries were destined to have a most marked effect on the
seaborne commerce, and consequently on the shipbuilding of the world. In
the year 1417 the Portuguese, under the guidance of Prince Henry the
Navigator, commenced their exploration of the west coast of Africa, and
they continued it with persistency during the century. In 1418 they
discovered, or rather re-discovered, the island of Madeira, for it is
extremely probable that it was first visited by an Englishman of the
name of Machin.

The Portuguese prince firmly believed that a route could be opened round
Africa to the Indies. To reach these regions by sea seems to have been
the goal of the great explorers of the fifteenth century, and the
Portuguese were stimulated in their endeavours by a grant from Pope
Martin V. of all territories which might thenceforward be discovered
between Cape Bojador and the East Indies. In 1446 an expedition
consisting of six caravels was fitted out, and made a voyage to Guinea;
it resulted in the discovery of the Cape Verde Islands. The caravel was
a type of ship much used by the countries of Southern Europe in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. A description of a Spanish vessel of
this type is given on pages 87 to 89. In 1449 the Azores were
discovered. In 1481 a lucrative trade was opened up between Portugal and
the natives of Guinea. Six years afterwards the Cape of Good Hope was
reached by Bartholomew Diaz, and in 1497 it was doubled by Vasco da

During a great part of the period in which the Portuguese were thus
occupied in extending their commerce and in paving the way for great
discoveries, the condition of England, owing to the French war and to
the subsequent Wars of the Roses, was passing from bad to worse.
Nevertheless, the spirit of commercial enterprise was not wholly
extinguished. A few merchants seem to have made fortunes in the shipping
trade, and among them may be mentioned the famous William Canynge of
Bristol, who was probably the greatest private shipowner in England at
the end of the reign of Henry VI. and during the time of Edward IV.
(1461 to 1483). Canynge traded to Iceland, Finland, and the
Mediterranean. He is said to have possessed ships as large as 900 tons,
and it is recorded on his monument, in the church of St. Mary Redcliffe,
in Bristol, that he at one time lent ships, to the extent of 2,670 tons,
to Edward IV. It is also related of him that he owned ten ships and
employed 800 sailors and 100 artisans.

It was not till the year 1475, upon the conclusion of peace between
Edward and the French king, Louis, that affairs quieted down in England,
and then trade and commerce made most marvellous progress. The king
himself was one of the leading merchants of the country, and concluded
treaties of commerce with Denmark, Brittany, Castile, Burgundy, France,
Zealand, and the Hanseatic League. In the reign of Edward's successor,
Richard III., English seaborne trade obtained a firm footing in Italy
and other Mediterranean countries.

We, fortunately, possess drawings which show that an enormous advance
was made in shipbuilding during the period under discussion, or that, at
any rate, the advance had by that time reached England. Fig. 37
illustrates a large ship of the latter half of the fifteenth century. It
is taken from a manuscript in the Cottonian Library, by John Rous, the
celebrated Warwickshire antiquary and historian. This manuscript records
the life and history of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, who was born
in 1381, and died in 1439. The author of the manuscript, however, lived
till 1491, in the early part of the reign of Henry VII., and we may
therefore conclude that the illustrations represent ships of the latter
half of the fifteenth century. The vessel shown in Fig. 37 was used for
war purposes, as four guns were mounted on the broadside. There were
also four masts and a bowsprit, and a strongly developed forecastle,
which formed part of the structure of the ship. There was apparently
very luxurious accommodation provided for passengers and officers in a
large deck-house at the poop. The mainsail was of very large dimensions,
and was emblazoned with the arms of the Earl of Warwick. In this
illustration we see an early approach to the modern type of
sailing-ship. There are several other drawings of ships in the same
manuscripts, and most of them have the same general characteristics as
Fig. 37.

[Illustration: FIG. 37.--English ship. Latter half of fifteenth

The reign of Henry VII. (1485 to 1509) was a memorable one in the annals
of navigation and commerce. Two years after he came to the throne, the
Portuguese sent the expedition, previously referred to, to discover a
route to the Indies round Africa. The expedition never reached its
destination, but Diaz succeeded in discovering the Cape of Good Hope.

[Illustration: FIG. 38.--Columbus' ship, the _Santa Maria_, 1492.]

A few years later, in 1492, Christopher Columbus made his famous attempt
to reach the Indies by sailing west. This expedition, as is well known,
resulted in the discovery of the West Indian Islands, and, shortly
afterwards, of the mainland of America. The ships which Columbus took
with him on his voyage were three in number, and small in size. As Spain
had possessed many large vessels for a century and a half before the
time of Columbus, it is probable that he was entrusted with small ships
only, because the Government did not care to risk much capital in so
adventuresome an undertaking.

[Illustration: FIG. 39.--Sail-plan of the _Santa Maria_.]

Fortunately, we have a fairly exact knowledge of the form and
dimensions of the caravel _Santa Maria_, which was the largest of the
three vessels. She was reconstructed in 1892-93 at the arsenal of
Carraca, by Spanish workmen, under the superintendence of Señor Leopold
Wilke, for the Chicago Exhibition of 1893. Señor Wilke had access to
every known source of information. Figs. 38 to 40 give a general view,
sail-plan and lines, of this ship as reconstructed.

The following were her leading dimensions:--

  Length of keel                      60·68 feet
  Length between perpendiculars       74·12  "
  Extreme length of ship proper       93     "
  Length over all                    128·25  "
  Breadth, extreme                    25·71  "
  Displacement fully laden           233  tons
  Weight of hull                      90·5 "

The _Santa Maria_, like most vessels of her time, was provided with an
extensive forecastle, which overhung the stem nearly 12 ft. She had also
an enormous structure aft, consisting of half and quarter decks above
the main deck. She had three masts and a bowsprit. The latter and the
fore and main masts were square-rigged, and the mizzen was
lateen-rigged. The outside of the hull was strengthened with vertical
and longitudinal timber beams.

The _Santa Maria_, as reproduced, was sailed across the Atlantic from
Spain by Captain D. V. Concas and a Spanish crew in the year 1893. The
course taken was exactly the same as that followed by Columbus on his
first voyage. The time occupied was thirty-six days, and the maximum
speed attained was about 6-1/2 knots. The vessel pitched horribly.

In 1497 the first English expedition was made to America under John
Cabot. We have no particulars of the ship in which Cabot sailed, but it
could not have been a large one, as it is known that the crew only
numbered eighteen. The expedition sailed from Bristol in the month of
May, and land, which was probably Cape Breton, was sighted on June 24.
Bristol was reached on the return journey at the end of July. In the
following year Cabot made another voyage, and explored the coast of
North America from Cape Breton to as far south as Cape Hatteras. Many
other expeditions in the same direction were fitted out in the last
years of the fifteenth and the first years of the sixteenth centuries.

[Illustration: FIG. 40.--Lines of the _Santa Maria_.]

While Cabot was returning from his first voyage to North America, one of
the most famous and most epoch-making expeditions of discovery of modern
times was fitted out in Portugal. On July 24, 1497, Vasco da Gama set
sail from the Tagus in the hope of reaching India _via_ the Cape of Good
Hope. His squadron consisted of three ships, named the _San Gabriel_,
the _San Raphael_, and the _Birrio_, together with a transport to carry
stores. There is a painting in existence at Lisbon of the _San Gabriel_,
which is supposed to be authentic. It represents her as having a high
poop and forecastle, very like the caravel _Santa Maria_. She had four
masts and a bowsprit. The latter and the fore and main masts were
square-rigged. The _San Gabriel_ was, however, a much larger vessel than
the _Santa Maria_. She is said to have been constructed to carry 400
pipes of wine. This would be equivalent to about 400 tons measurement,
or, from 250 to 300 tons register.[15] The other two ships selected were
of about the same dimensions, and of similar equipment and rig, in order
that, in the event of losses, or accidents, each of the ships might make
use of any of the spars, tackle, or fittings belonging to the others.

It may here be mentioned that the ships reached Quilimane, on the east
coast of South Africa, on January 22, 1498. After many visits to East
African ports, during which they satisfied themselves that the arts of
navigation were as well understood by the Eastern seamen as by
themselves, they set sail for India early in August, and after a voyage
of twenty, or, as some say, twenty-three days, they sighted the coast,
and shortly afterwards arrived in Calicut, nearly fourteen months after
they started from Lisbon.

About this time the Memlook Sultans of Egypt absolutely cut off the
trade which had been carried on for centuries between the Italian
Republics and the Malabar coast of India _via_ the overland route and
the Red Sea. It was this fact that gave the discovery of the sea-route
to India such enormous importance, and, ultimately, it was one of the
causes of the commercial downfall of the Italian Republics. The Cape
route became the great high-road of commerce to the East, and remained
so down to the present reign, when the re-establishment of the overland
route, and, eventually, the successful cutting of the Suez Canal,
restored commerce to its old paths.

The discoveries of Columbus, Vasco da Gama, John Cabot, and their
successors, had an enormous influence upon shipbuilding, as they not
only widened the area of seaborne commerce, but offered strong
inducements to navigators to venture on the great oceans, far from land,
in craft specially adapted for such voyages. Hitherto, sailors had
either navigated the great inland seas of Europe or had engaged in the
coasting trade, and the longest voyages undertaken before the end of the
fifteenth century were probably those which English merchants made
between Bristol and Iceland, and between our Eastern ports and Bergen.

Henry VII. not only encouraged commerce and voyages of discovery, but
also paid great attention to the needs of the Royal Navy. He added two
warships to his fleet, which were more powerful vessels than any
previously employed in this country. One of them, named the _Regent_,
was copied from a French ship of 600 tons, and was built on the Rother
about 1490. She carried four masts and a bowsprit, and was armed with
225 small guns, called serpentines. The second ship was named the
_Sovereign_, and it is remarkable, as showing the connection at that
time between land and naval architecture, that she was built under the
superintendence of Sir Reginald Bray, who was also the architect of
Henry VII.'s Chapel at Westminster Abbey, and of St. George's Chapel,
Windsor. The _Sovereign_ carried 141 serpentines.

The _Regent_ was burnt in an action off Brest in the reign of Henry
VIII., in the year 1512. She caught fire from a large French carrack,
called the _Marie la Cordelière_, which she was attacking. Both ships
were utterly destroyed.

The _Marie la Cordelière_ was probably the largest warship of her time.
She is said to have carried 1,200 men, and to have lost 900 killed in
the action. She was built at Morlaix at the sole cost of Anne of
Brittany, then Queen of France.

[Illustration: FIG. 41.--The _Henry Grace à Dieu_. _Pepysian Library,

The _Regent_ was replaced by a very famous ship called the _Henry Grace
à Dieu_, otherwise known as the _Great Harry_. As a consequence, most
probably, of the size and force of some of the French ships, as revealed
in the action off Brest, the _Henry Grace à Dieu_ was a great advance on
any previous British warship. She was built at Erith, and was probably
launched in June, 1514. Her tonnage is given in a manuscript in Pepys'
"Miscellanies" as 1,500; but it is generally believed that she did not
in reality exceed 1,000 tons.

[Illustration: FIG. 42.--The _Henry Grace à Dieu_. _After Allen._]

There are more drawings than one in existence, supposed to represent
this famous warship. One of them, shown in Fig. 41, is from a drawing in
the Pepysian Library, in Magdalene College, Cambridge. Another, shown in
Fig. 42, is from an engraving by Allen of a picture ascribed to Holbein.
The two illustrations differ in many important respects and cannot both
represent the same ship. There is very little doubt that Fig. 41 is the
more correct representation of the two, because it is confirmed in all
essential respects by Volpe's picture of the embarkation of Henry VIII.
at Dover in 1520 on this very ship. Volpe's picture is now at Hampton
Court Palace, and shows four other ships of the Royal Navy, which were
all built in the same style as the Pepysian drawing of Fig. 41, with
enormous forecastles and poops. The vessel represented in the picture
ascribed to Holbein appears to belong to a later date than 1520, and is,
in fact, transitional between the ships of this period and those of the
reign of Elizabeth. One of the warships of the latter period is shown in
Fig. 45.

According to a manuscript, in the Pepysian Collection, the _Henry Grace
à Dieu_ was armed with twenty-one guns and a multitude of smaller
pieces. The numbers of the various guns and the weights of their shot
are given in the following table:--

  |               |         | Weight of |
  | Name of gun.  | Number. |   shot.   |
  |               |         |    lbs.   |
  | Cannon        |    4    |    60     |
  | Demi-cannon   |    3    |    32     |
  | Culverin      |    4    |    18     |
  | Demi-culverin |    2    |     8     |
  | Saker         |    4    |     6     |
  | Cannon Perer  |    2    |    26     |
  | Falcon        |    2    |     2     |

The sizes of the guns of this time are pretty accurately known, because
one of the ships of Henry VIII., called the _Mary Rose_, built in 1509,
went down off Portsmouth in 1545, and several of her guns have been
recovered, and are still in existence.

The portholes were circular, and so small in diameter that no traverse
could have been given to the guns. This practice continued to prevail
till the time of the Commonwealth. There were five masts in this, as in
all other first-rates henceforth down to the time of Charles I. One of
the masts was inclined forward, like a modern bowsprit. Each mast was
made in one piece, the introduction of separate topmasts having been a
more modern improvement.

[Illustration: FIG. 43--Genoese carrack. 1542.]

The highest development in the art of shipbuilding at this period was
reached in the large merchant-ships called Carracks. The competition
between the great trading republics of Italy, viz. Venice and Genoa, and
the rivalry of Portugal probably accounted for the marked improvement in
the character of merchant-ships in the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries. Fig. 43 gives a representation of a large Genoese carrack of
the sixteenth century. It will be noticed that this vessel had four
masts, and was square-rigged, the foremost mast having been inclined
forward somewhat after the fashion of the modern bowsprit. In the
sixteenth century the carrack often attained the size of 1,600 tons.
Towards the latter half of this century a Portuguese carrack captured by
the English was, in length, from the beakhead to the stern, 165 ft.;
beam, 47 ft.; length of keel, 100 ft.; height of mainmast, 121 ft.;
circumference at partners, 11 ft.; length of mainyard, 106 ft.; burthen,
1,600 tons. This vessel carried 32 pieces of brass ordnance--a very
necessary addition to the merchant-ship of the period--and accommodated
between 600 and 700 passengers.

The most important maritime event in the sixteenth century was,
undoubtedly, the fitting out by Spain, in 1588, of the gigantic
expedition intended to invade this country in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth. An account of the fleets on either side may therefore be

[Illustration: FIG. 44.--Spanish galleass. 1588.]

The great Armada consisted of no less than 132 vessels, of which only
four were galleys, and four galleasses.[16] Of the remainder, 30 were
under 100 tons, and 94 were between 130 and 1,550 tons. The total
tonnage of the ships, less the galleys and galleasses, was 59,120. The
armament consisted of 2,761[17] guns. The seamen numbered 7,865 and the
soldiers 20,671. The fleet was divided into ten squadrons. The largest
vessel was the flagship of the Levant squadron, and was of 1,249 tons,
and carried 30 guns. The crew consisted of 80 sailors and 344 soldiers.
The next largest was of 1,200 tons and carried 47 guns, but the greater
number of the vessels were much smaller. The popular belief as to their
incredible size and unwieldiness must therefore be dismissed as
baseless, for even the largest ships were far exceeded in size by some
of the carracks, or merchant vessels, of that day. On the average the
Spanish vessels mounted 22 guns apiece, and carried crews of 231 sailors
and soldiers. Fig. 44 is a sketch, taken from the tapestry of the old
House of Lords, of one of the galleasses of the fleet. It will be
noticed that she carried her guns extremely high, a peculiarity which
was common to many of the Spanish vessels; for we read that their fire
did more harm to the rigging than to the hulls of the English vessels.

The fleet mustered by Elizabeth was far more numerous, but its tonnage
did not amount to one-half of that of the Armada. The total number of
vessels sailing under the English flag was 197, of which, however, only
34 belonged to the Royal Navy. The remainder were merchant vessels,
hastily fitted out and adapted for purposes of war by their owners, or
by the ports to which they belonged. Of the Royal ships the largest was
the _Triumph_, built in 1561. She was commanded by Sir Martin Frobisher,
and was only exceeded in size by four of the Spanish vessels. The
_Triumph_ was between 1,000 and 1,100 tons, but there were only seven
ships in the English Navy of between 600 and 1,000 tons, whereas the
Spaniards had no fewer than 45. The crew of the _Triumph_ numbered 500,
of whom 300 were sailors, 40 gunners, and 160 soldiers.

The _Triumph_ carried 42 guns, of which 4 were cannon, 3 demi-cannon, 17
culverins, 8 demi-culverins, 6 sakers, and 4 small pieces. The greatest
number of guns carried by any ship in the fleet was 56, mounted on board
the _Elizabeth Jones_, of 900 tons, and built in 1559. The flagship of
the Lord High Admiral, Lord Howard of Effingham, the _Ark_, was the
most modern of the English warships, having been built in 1587. She was
of 800 tons, carried a crew of 430, and mounted 55 guns.

Of the merchant auxiliaries the two largest were the _Galleon Leicester_
and the _Merchant Royal_, each of 400 tons, and each carried a crew of
160 men. In the former of these the explorer Cavendish afterwards made
his last voyage. Another of the merchant-ships, the _Edward
Bonaventure_, belonged to the Levant Company, and in the years 1591 to
1593 was distinguished as the first English ship that made a successful
voyage to India.

The size of a large number of the merchant-ships was under 100 tons. The
total number of the crews of the entire English fleet was 15,551; of
these 6,289 belonged to the queen's ships.

As a general rule, the English ships in the reign of Queen Elizabeth,
both in the Royal Navy and in the Mercantile Marine, were much inferior
in size to the vessels belonging to the great Maritime Republics of
Italy and to Spain and Portugal. Hitherto the practice had been general
of hiring Genoese and Venetian carracks for mercantile purposes. It is
stated that about the year 1578, or twenty years after Queen Elizabeth's
accession to the throne, there were only 24 ships in the Royal Navy and
135 of above 100 tons burthen in the whole kingdom, and but 656 that
exceeded 40 tons. Nevertheless, in this reign there was a great
development of mercantile activity, in which the sovereign as well as
her people participated. Many trading expeditions were sent out to the
West Indies and to North America, and warlike descents on the Spanish
ports were frequently carried out, and were attended with great success.
In Elizabeth's time the first British colony, Virginia, was founded in
North America, and Sir Francis Drake undertook his memorable and
eventful voyage round the world in a squadron, which consisted, at the
commencement, of five vessels, whereof the largest, the _Pelican_, was
of only 100 tons burthen, and the smallest a pinnace of 15 tons. So
great was the progress made about this time in English maritime trade
that, only four years after the date above mentioned, there were said to
have been no less than 135 English commercial vessels of above 500 tons
in existence.

In the year 1587 Drake, in his famous marauding expedition in the
Spanish seas, captured a great carrack called the _San Felipe_, which
was returning home from the East Indies. The papers found in her
revealed the enormous profits which the Spaniards made out of their
trade with India, and afforded such valuable information that the
English merchant adventurers were incited to cut in and try to secure
some share of this trade for themselves. This led, ultimately, to the
founding of the celebrated East India Company, and to the conquest of
India by the British. In 1589 certain merchants petitioned the queen to
grant them a licence to trade with the East Indies; but Elizabeth,
fearing the resentment of the Spanish and Portuguese, would not grant
their request for many years, and it was not till the last day of the
year 1599 that she gave a charter of incorporation to the Earl of
Cumberland and 215 knights and merchants for fifteen years, and thus
founded the first East India Company. English adventurers, however, did
not wait for a charter before commencing their trading operations with
the East, for in 1591 an expedition consisting of three ships was sent
out under the command of James Lancaster. Only one of the three--the
_Edward Bonaventure_, which, as already mentioned, had been a merchant
auxiliary in the English fleet that opposed the Armada--ever reached the
East Indies in safety.

A few weeks after the charter had been granted Lancaster led another
expedition to the East. His fleet consisted of five ships; the largest,
the _Dragon_, was of 600 tons, and had a crew of 202. After an
adventurous voyage the fleet returned to England in September, 1602,
having been absent two years and eight months.

There is abundant evidence to show that foreign merchant ships in
Elizabeth's reign were often much larger than any built in this country.
The following are examples. In 1592 a Portuguese carrack called the
_Madre de Dios_ was captured and brought home. She was of 1,600 tons
burthen, 165 feet long from stem to stern, and had seven decks,
including the numerous half and quarter decks which formed the poop. In
1594 a Spanish carrack was destroyed which had 1,100 men on board. When
Cadiz was taken in 1596 two Spanish galleons of 1,200 tons were
captured, and the flagship, the _San Felipe_, of 1,500 tons, was blown
up. In 1602 a Portuguese carrack of 1,600 tons was captured at Cezimbra.
She was named the _San Valentino_, and was worth, with her cargo, a
million ducats.

The system of striking topmasts appears to have been introduced into the
English Navy in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It is mentioned by Sir
Walter Raleigh as a recent improvement and "a wonderful ease to great
ships, both at sea and in the harbour." Amongst the other novelties
mentioned by the same authority was the use of chain-pumps on board
ship; they lifted twice the amount of water that the old-fashioned pumps
could raise; studding, top-gallant, sprit and topsails were also
introduced, and the weighing of anchors by means of the capstan. He also
alludes to the recent use of long cables, and says that "by it we resist
the malice of the greatest winds that can blow." The early men-of-war,
pierced with portholes, carried their lower guns very near the water. In
some cases there were only fourteen inches from the lower sill of the
portholes to the water-line. This practice led to many accidents;
amongst others may be mentioned the loss of the _Mary Rose_, one of the
largest ships in the Royal Navy in the time of Henry VIII. Sir Walter
Raleigh mentions that, in his time, the practice was introduced of
raising the lower tier of ports. Nevertheless, this improvement did not
become general till the time of the restoration of Charles II. Fig. 45
is a representation of an English ship of war of the time of Queen
Elizabeth, supposed to be of the date 1588. It is copied from the
tapestries of the old House of Lords. It shows clearly the recently
introduced topmasts alluded to by Sir Walter Raleigh. It is certainly a
much more ship-shaped and serviceable craft than the vessels of Henry
VIII. There is also in existence a drawing of a smaller Elizabethan
warship in the Rawlinson MSS. in the Bodleian Library; in essential
particulars, it confirms Fig. 45. Both of these show that the
forecastles and poops had been considerably modified.

[Illustration: FIG. 45.--English man-of-war. About 1588.]

[Illustration: FIG. 46.--Venetian galleass. 1571.]

Another great naval war was waged in the latter half of the sixteenth
century, about sixteen years before the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
The scene was the Adriatic Sea, and the combatants were Venice, with her
allies, Spain and the Papal States, on the one hand, and the Turks on
the other. It culminated in the complete defeat of the latter at Lepanto
in 1571. The site of the battle of Lepanto is very near to that of
Actium, and it is a remarkable circumstance that twice in history a
decisive naval battle between the West and East should have been decided
at the same spot. The allies possessed a fleet consisting of 208 galleys
and 6 galleasses. The Venetians introduced the latter type of vessel in
order to meet the Turks on even terms. It was an improved form of galley
with three masts, carrying several guns on the broadside, most of them
mounted on the upper deck. Fig. 46 represents one of the Venetian
galleasses as used at the battle of Lepanto, to the winning of which
engagement they are said to have contributed materially. The galleass
was essentially a Mediterranean warship. It was never generally adopted
by the Western powers, but four Neapolitan vessels of this category,
carrying each 50 guns, formed a part of the great Armada sent by Spain
to effect the conquest of England. The galleass represented in Fig. 46
had a circular forecastle in which were mounted several guns, to be used
in end-on attack.

It is impossible to read the accounts of the battle of Lepanto and of
the defeat of the Spanish Armada without noticing the great contrast
between the ships used in the two wars at about the same period. In the
Mediterranean the single-banked galley was still the prevailing type,
while in the Western and Northern seas the bulk of the Spanish and the
whole of the British fleets were sailing-ships.

It does not appear that any further novelties, or improvements, worth
alluding to were introduced into the practice of shipbuilding till the
accession of the House of Stuart in 1603. All the monarchs of this
family paid particular attention to the development of the Royal Navy.
King James I. had in his service an educated naval architect of the name
of Phineas Pett, who was a Master of Arts of Emmanuel College,
Cambridge, and a member of a famous family of shipbuilders who had been
employed for two centuries previously, from father to son, as officers
and architects in the Royal Navy. Some time after the accession of
James, a Royal Commission inquired into the general state and management
of the navy, and issued a report in 1618, which was in effect "a project
for contracting the charge of His Majesty's Navy, keeping the coast of
England and Ireland safely guarded, and his Majesty's ships in harbour
as sufficiently guarded as now they are, provided that the old debts be
paid, ... and certain assignments settled for the further payment of the
navy quarterly." At the time the report was issued there were only
seventeen vessels in the navy which had been built during the reign of
James. The most important of these was the _Prince Royal_, built in
1610, and, at the time, considered to be one of the finest men-of-war
in the world. Fig. 47 is an illustration of a man-of-war of the period,
which, there is strong evidence for believing, was this very vessel. It
was designed and built under the superintendence of Phineas Pett at
Woolwich Dockyard, and was given by the king to his son Henry, Prince of
Wales, in honour of whom it was named the _Prince Royal_. It was in many
respects a remarkable departure from the prevailing practice of the
times, and, if stripped of its profuse carved work, was very similar in
outline to the men-of-war built as recently as the commencement of the
last century. The designer was bold enough to abandon some of the
time-honoured features of ship construction, such as the beak, or prow,
derived from the old galleys, and the square buttock, or tuck. The
latter feature, however, continued to appear in the ships of most other
European countries for some time afterwards. The length of keel of this
vessel was 114 ft., and the beam 44 ft. The reputed burthen was
1,400 tons, and the vessel was pierced for 64 guns, whereof she carried
55, the vacant portholes being filled in action from the opposite side,
a custom which prevailed down to the last century and was adopted in
order to lessen the dead weight carried aft. The great difference
between the shape of the quarter galleries and forecastle in this ship
and in the earlier types will be noted. The armament of the _Prince
Royal_ consisted of the following guns: On the lower deck six
32-pounders, two 24-pounders, and twelve 18-pounders. The bow and
aftermost ports were empty, and in case of necessity the former
was filled by an 18-pounder from the opposite side, and the latter by a
24-pounder from the stern-ports. The upper deck was armed with
9-pounders, the aftermost port being vacant, and filled up when
required. The quarter-deck and forecastle were provided with 5-pounders.

[Illustration: FIG. 47.--The _Prince Royal_. 1610.]

The building of this ship aroused many apprehensions, and a Commission
was appointed to report on the design while it was being constructed. It
certainly seems that gross errors were made in the calculations. For
instance, it was estimated that 775 loads of timber would be required
for her construction, whereas 1,627 loads were actually used. The timber
also was so unseasoned that the ship only lasted fifteen years, and had
then to be rebuilt.

Many complaints were made about this time of the incapacity and
ignorance of English shipbuilders. Sir Walter Raleigh laid down the
following as the principal requirements of warships: strong build,
speed, stout scantling, ability to fight the guns in all weathers,
ability to lie to easily in a gale, and ability to stay well. He stated
that in all these qualities the royal ships were deficient. He also
called attention to the inferiority of our merchant-ships, and pointed
out that, whereas an English ship of 100 tons required a crew of thirty
hands, a Dutch vessel of the same size would sail with one-third of that

Another authority of the time complained that--

  "he could never see two ships builded of the like proportion by the
  best and most skilful shipwrights ... because they trust rather to
  their judgment than their art, and to their eye than their scale and

The merchant navy of England languished during the early years of the
reign of James I. Owing, however, to the patronage and assistance
extended by the king to the East India Company, and also in no small
measure to the stimulus caused by the arrival of some large Dutch
merchantmen in the Thames, the merchants of London abandond the practice
of hiring ships from foreigners and took to building for themselves. In
the year 1615 there were not more than ten ships belonging to the Port
of London with a burthen in excess of 200 tons, but, owing to the sudden
development of shipbuilding, the Port of Newcastle in the year 1622
owned more than 100 ships exceeding the above-mentioned tonnage.

In the year 1609 the king granted a new charter to the East India
Company, and in the following year a vessel, called the _Trade's
Increase_, was sent out. This ship was the largest merchantman built up
to that time in England. Her career, however, was not fortunate. She was
careened at Bantam, in order that some repairs to her hull might be
effected, but she fell over on her side and was burnt by the Javanese.

Before the year 1613 British merchants had made altogether twelve
voyages to the East Indies, for the most part in ships of less than 500
tons. In that year, however, all the merchants interested in the
Oriental trade joined together to form the United East India Company.
The first fleet fitted out by the re-organised Company consisted of four
ships, of 650, 500, 300, and 200 tons burthen respectively. It had to
fight its way with the Portuguese before it could commence to trade. The
Portuguese considered that they were entitled to a monopoly of the trade
with the East, and jealously resented the intrusion of the English
merchantmen, whom they attacked with a fleet of six galleons, three
ships, two galleys, and sixty smaller vessels. They were, however,
ignominiously defeated, and the English merchants were enabled to
accomplish their purpose.

During the last five years of the reign of James I. the strength of the
Royal Navy was increased twenty-five per cent. His son and successor,
Charles I., through all the troubles of his eventful reign, never
neglected this branch of the national defences, and during his reign the
Mercantile Marine grew to such an extent that, at the time of the
outbreak of the Civil War, the port of London alone was able to furnish
100 ships of considerable size, all mounting cannon and fitted up in
every respect for the operations of war.

[Illustration: FIG. 48.--The _Sovereign of the Seas_. 1637.]

The _Sovereign of the Seas_, illustrated in Fig. 48, may be taken as a
sample of the largest type of warship built by Charles. Like the _Prince
Royal_, she was designed by Pett, and was considered to be the most
powerful man-of-war in Europe of her time. Her construction must have
been a great improvement on that of the _Prince Royal_; for, whereas the
latter ship was declared to be no longer fit for service fifteen years
after her launch, the _Sovereign of the Seas_, though engaged in most of
the naval battles of the seventeenth century, remained in good condition
for a period of sixty years, and was then accidentally burnt at Chatham
when about to be rebuilt. She was the first three-decker in the Royal
Navy, but as she proved somewhat crank, she was cut down to a two-decker
in the year 1652. At the Restoration she was renamed the _Royal

This very remarkable vessel was of 1,683 tons burthen. Her length of
keel was 128 ft.; length over all, 167 ft.; beam, 48 ft. 4 in.; and
depth from top of lanthorn to bottom of keel, 76 ft. She was built with
three closed decks, a forecastle, a half-deck, a quarter-deck, and a
round-house. She carried in all 102 or 104 guns, and was pierced for
thirty guns on the lower, thirty on the main, and twenty-six on the
upper deck; the forecastle had twelve, and the half-deck fourteen ports.
She also carried ten chasers forward, and as many aft. She was provided
with eleven anchors, of which one weighed two tons.

The _Royal Sovereign_ may fairly be taken as representing the
commencement of a better school of ship construction. Her merits were
due to the talents of Phineas Pett, who, though not uniformly successful
in his earlier designs, was a great innovator, and is generally regarded
as the father of the modern school of wooden shipbuilding.

Very little is known, unfortunately, of the character and rig of the
smaller classes of trading vessels of the end of the sixteenth and the
commencement of the seventeenth centuries. It is, however, tolerably
certain that cutter-rigged craft were used in the coasting and Irish
trades as far back as 1567; for there is a map of Ireland of that date
in existence on which are shown two vessels rigged in this manner.

With the description of the _Royal Sovereign_ we close the account of
mediæval naval architecture. Thanks to the fostering care of Charles I.,
to the genius of Pett, and to the great natural advantages conferred by
the superiority of English oak to other European timbers, England at
this period occupied a high place in the art of shipbuilding. The
position thus gained was maintained and turned to the best advantage in
the period of the Commonwealth, when successful naval wars were
undertaken against the Dutch and other European States. These wars
eventually resulted in establishing England, for a time, as the foremost
maritime power in Europe.



The naval wars which followed the establishment of the Commonwealth
contributed in a very large degree to the progress of shipbuilding. In
1652 war broke out with the United Provinces, headed by the Dutch, who
were, prior to that period, the foremost naval and mercantile power in
the world. The struggle lasted about two years, and during its
continuance the British fleet increased from fifty-five first, second,
and third rates, to eighty-eight vessels of corresponding classes, while
a proportionately larger increase was made in ships of smaller
denominations, and, in addition, the vessels lost in the war were
replaced. The war with the Dutch was an exceptionally severe struggle,
and ended in the complete victory of this country, which then stepped
into Holland's place as foremost naval power. In addition to this war,
Cromwell undertook an expedition to the Mediterranean, to punish the
piratical states of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. The fleet was commanded
by Blake, and was completely successful in its operations, which
resulted in a security for British commerce with the Levant that had
never been known before. Admiral Penn was at the same time entrusted
with the command of a powerful expedition to the Spanish West Indies.
The annexation of Jamaica followed, and British commerce in the West
increased. In fact, with the progress of the national navy the commerce
of the country also extended itself, and the increased experience thus
obtained in shipbuilding, both for the war and trading fleets,
necessarily resulted in great improvements in the art.

[Illustration: FIG. 49.--The _Royal Charles_. 1673.]

The expenditure on the navy in the time of the Commonwealth was enormous
relatively to the total national revenue. In the year 1656-57
four-fifths of the income of the country was devoted to the sea service,
in the following year two-thirds, and in 1658-59 nearly three-fifths.
These are figures which have never been approached at any other period.
The ships built during this time were of moderate dimensions. Only four
were of 1,000 tons. These were the _Dunbar_, of 1,047 tons and 64 guns,
built in 1656; the _London_, built in the same year, of the same tonnage
and number of guns, though of different dimensions; the _Richard_, of
1,108 tons and 70 guns, built in 1658; and the _Naseby_, built in 1655,
of 1,229 tons and 80 guns. All four were renamed at the Restoration.

Charles II. and his brother, the Duke of York, afterwards James II.,
both possessed in an eminent degree the fondness for the navy which
distinguished all the members of the Stuart dynasty, though,
unfortunately, after the first naval war waged by Charles against
Holland, the condition of the fleet was allowed to deteriorate very
rapidly. As a sample of the type of warship of the first class built in
this reign, we give, in Fig. 49, the _Royal Charles_, which was
constructed at Portsmouth dockyard in 1673, by Sir Anthony Deane, to
carry 100 guns. This illustration and that of the _Sovereign of the
Seas_ are after pictures by Vandevelde. This ship was the largest in the
navy, excepting always the famous old _Sovereign of the Seas_ and the
_Britannia_. The latter was built at Chatham, by Pett, in 1682, and
carried 100 guns, and measured 1,739 tons. The _Royal Charles_ created
as much sensation in its day as did the famous ship built for Charles I.
There is a beautiful model of the _Royal Charles_ in the Museum.

[Illustration: FIG. 50.--The _Soleil Royal_. 1683.]

The following table gives the leading dimensions of the _Royal Charles_
and the _Britannia_:--

                |         |          |          |          |
  Name of ship. | Length. | Breadth. | Depth of | Draught. | Complement.
                |         |          |    hold. |          |
                |  ft.    | ft.  in. | ft. in.  | ft. in.  |
  Royal Charles |  136    | 46    0  | 18  3    | 20   6   |    780
  Britannia     |  146    | 47    4  | 19  7-1/2| 20   0   |    780

Fig. 50 is an illustration after Vandevelde of a famous French
first-rate of the same period, named the _Soleil Royal_, of 106 guns.
She was destroyed in Cherbourg Bay the day after the battle of Cape La
Hogue, in 1692. Fig. 51 is a Dutch first-rate, named the _Hollandia_, of
74 guns. She was built in 1683, and took part in the battle of Beachy
Head as flagship of Admiral Cornelis Evertsen.

[Illustration: FIG. 51.--The _Hollandia_. 1683.]

The chief difference between the British and foreign builds of warship
of the latter half of the seventeenth century was that the English
vessels were always constructed with the rounded tuck before mentioned,
as introduced by Pett, while the Continental ships all had the
old-fashioned square tuck, which is well illustrated in Fig. 51. The
Dutch ships in one respect excelled all others, in that they were the
first in which the absurd practice of an exaggerated "tumble home," or
contraction of the upper deck, was abandoned. This fashion was still
carried out to a very great extent by the English, and to a less extent
by the French and Spaniards. The chain-plates in the English vessels
were also fixed extremely low, while the Dutch fixed them as high as the
sills of the upper-deck ports would allow. In consequence of the
shallowness of the Dutch harbours, the draught of their ships was also
considerably less than that of the English vessels of corresponding

Most of the ships in a seventeenth-century fleet deemed fit to take
their station in the line of battle were third-rates. The first and
second rates were exceptional vessels, and were only employed in
particular services. A comparative table of the dimensions and armament
of the various rates, or classes in the year 1688, is annexed:--

              |      |         |         |         |       |  Guns   |
              |Length|         |  Depth  | Draught |       | on war  |
  Designation.|  of  | Breadth.|   of    |   of    | Tons. | service | Crew.
              | keel.|         |  hold.  |  water. |       | at home.|
              | Feet.|  Feet.  |  Feet.  |  Feet.  |       |         |
  1st Rate    |128 to|  40 to  | 17.9 to |  20 to  |1100 to|  90 to  | 600 to
              | 146  |   48    |   19.8  |   23.6  |  1740 |   100   |  815
  2nd Rate    |121 to|  37 to  |  17 to  |  16 to  |1000 to|  82 to  | 540 to
              | 143  |   45    |   19.8  |   21    |  1500 |    90   |  660
  3rd Rate    |115 to|  34 to  | 14.2 to |  16 to  | 750 to|  60 to  | 350 to
              | 140  |   40    |   18.3  |   18.8  |  1174 |    74   |  470
  4th Rate    | 88 to|  27 to  | 11.2 to | 12.8 to | 342 to|  32 to  | 180 to
              | 280  |   34    |   15.6  |   17.8  |   680 |    50   | 230
  5th Rate    | 72 to| 23.6 to |  9.9 to | 11.6 to | 211 to|  26 to  | 125 to
              |  81  |   27    |   11    |   13.2  |   333 |    30   | 135

The first so-called frigate was designed by Peter Pett, and built at
Chatham in 1646. She was named the _Constant Warwick_. Her dimensions
were: length of keel, 85 ft.; breadth, 26 ft. 5 in.; depth, 13 ft. 2
in.; tonnage, 315; guns, 32; crew, 140. She worked havoc amongst the
privateers of the time.

The bomb-ketch was originally introduced by a famous French naval
architect named Bernard Renan, about 1679. This class of warship was
first employed by Louis XIV. in the bombardment of Algiers, where it
produced an enormous effect. Bomb-ketches were of about 200 tons
burthen, very broad in proportion to their length, and built with great
regard to strength, on account of the decks having to bear the downward
recoil of the mortars. The latter were placed in the fore-part of the
vessel, which was purposely left unencumbered with rigging. The hold
between the mortars and keel was closely packed with old cables, cut
into lengths. The yielding elastic qualities of the packing assisted in
taking up the force of the recoil. The bombs weighed about 200 pounds,
and the consternation and terror produced by them may readily be
realized when it is remembered that, up to that time, the most dangerous
projectile which a warship could discharge at a land fortification was a
thirty-two pound shot. These vessels were fitted with two masts, one in
the middle and the other in the stern.

While referring to this invention of Bernard Renan, it should be
mentioned that France rose to the rank of a great naval power in the
reign of Louis XIV., under the famous minister Colbert, in the latter
half of the seventeenth century. When Louis succeeded to the throne the
French Navy was practically non-existent, as it consisted only of four,
or five, frigates. In 1672 he had raised the strength of the fleet to
fifty line-of-battle ships and a corresponding number of frigates and
smaller vessels. Nine years afterwards, the French marine numbered 179
vessels of all classes, exclusive of galleys. In 1690 the French fleet
in the Channel alone numbered sixty-eight ships, while the combined
British and Dutch squadrons consisted only of fifty-six, and suffered a
defeat at Beachy Head, in which the English lost one vessel and their
allies six. This defeat was, however, amply revenged two years
afterwards, when the allies succeeded in opposing the enormous number of
ninety-nine ships of the line, besides thirty-eight frigates and
fireships, to Tourville's fleet of forty-four ships of the line and
thirteen smaller vessels, and defeated it off Cape La Hogue, inflicting
on it a loss of fifteen line-of-battle ships, including the famous
_Soleil Royal_, of 108 guns, illustrated in Fig. 50. From the time of
Louis XIV. down to the present date French naval architects have always
exercised a most important influence on the design of warships, a
circumstance which was largely due to the manner in which Colbert
encouraged the application of science to this branch of construction.
It may be truly said that, during the whole of the eighteenth century,
the majority of the improvements introduced in the forms and proportions
of vessels of the Royal Navy were copied from French prizes.

[Illustration: FIG. 52. British second-rate. 1665.]

[Illustration: FIG. 53.--Midship section of a fourth-rate.]

In order to complete the illustrations of British warships of the latter
half of the seventeenth century views of a second-rate are given in Fig.
52, and a cross-section of a fourth-rate in Fig. 53.

It would be impossible in the present work to notice in detail all the
alterations in size and structure of ships which took place during the
eighteenth century. A few of the leading changes may, however, be
mentioned. In the year 1706 an attempt was made to systematize the
dimensions of the various rates, and the figures as given in the
following table were fixed:--

  Number of     |             |              |              |              |         |
    guns.       |     90      |     80       |      70      |     60       |   50    |     40
  Length of     |             |              |              |              |         |
    gun-deck    |   162 ft.   |    156 ft.   |    150 ft.   |   144 ft.    | 130 ft. |   118 ft.
                |             |              |              |              |         |
  Extreme       |             |              |              |              |         |
    breadth     |    47 ft.   | 43 ft. 6 in. |    41 ft.    |    38 ft.    |  35 ft. |    32 ft.
                |             |              |              |              |         |
  Depth of hold |18 ft. 6 in. | 17 ft. 8 in. | 17 ft. 4 in. | 15 ft. 8 in. |  14 ft. | 13 ft. 6 in.
                |             |              |              |              |         |
  Tonnage       |    1552     |    1283      |     1069     |    914       |   705   |     532

When the figures were compared with those of contemporary French ships
of the same rates, it was found that the British vessels of every class
were of inferior dimensions. Whenever British men-of-war were captured
by the French, the number of their guns was reduced. It was universally
admitted that the French ships were superior in sailing qualities; so
much so was this the case that, whenever a French squadron was chased,
the English-built ships in it were the first to be overtaken. The
subject of the superiority in size of the French ships was constantly
coming to the front, and in 1719 a new establishment was made for the
dimension of ships in our Royal Navy, according to the following

     Number of guns.  |  90   |  80   |  70   |  60   |  50   |   40
  Increase of length  | 2 ft. | 2 ft. | 1 ft. |   0   | 4 ft. | 6 ft.
  Increase of breadth | 2 in. | 1 ft. | 6 in. | 1 ft. | 1 ft. | 1 ft. 2 in.
  Increase of tonnage |  15   |  67   |  59   |  37   |  51   |  63

In addition to the increase in dimensions, much improvement was made in
the same year in the interior arrangements, and in the preservation of
the timber of which ships were constructed. Up till this period both
thick stuff and planks were prepared by charring the inner surface while
the outer surface was kept wet, and this process was continued till the
plank was brought to a fit condition for bending to the shape it was
required to take. In this year, however, the process of stoving was
introduced. It consisted in placing the timber in wet sand and
subjecting it to the action of heat for such time as was necessary in
order to extract the residue of the sap and to bring it to a condition
of suppleness. In the year 1726 the process was favourably reported on
by two of the master shipwrights in their report on the state of the
planking on the bottom of the _Falkland_. Some of the planking had been
charred by the old process, some stoved by the new, and the remainder
had been neither stoved nor charred. The stoved planks were found to be
in a good state of preservation, while many of the others were rotten.
The process remained in use till 1736, when it was superseded by the
practice of steaming the timber. The steaming and the kindred process of
boiling remained in vogue during the whole of the remainder of the era
of wooden shipbuilding. In 1771 the rapid decay of ships in the Royal
Navy once more caused serious attention to be paid to the subject of the
preservation of timber. It was, in consequence, arranged that larger
stocks of timber should be kept in the dockyards, and that
line-of-battle ships should stand in frame for at least a year, in order
to season before the planking was put on. Similarly, frigates were to
stand in frame for at least six months, and all thick stuff and planking
was to be sawn out a year before it was used and stacked, with battens
between the planks, so as to allow of the free circulation of the air.
Similar regulations were put in force for the beam pieces, knees, and
other portions of the ships.

Much trouble was caused by the injurious effects of bilge-water and foul
air in the holds of ships, and various remedies were devised from time
to time. In 1715 structural improvements were devised to allow of the
bilge-water flowing more freely to the pumps, and trunks were fitted to
the lower decks to convey air to the holds. In 1719 it was proposed that
the holds of ships should have several feet of water run into them in
the early spring in order to cool them, and that it should not be pumped
out till August; but this remedy was never extensively practised. In
1753 Dr. S. Hales proposed a system of ventilation by means of windmills
and hand-pumps, which produced excellent results. It was noticed that
the accumulation of carbonic acid gas and foul damp air in the holds,
not only set up rapid decay in the ship, but also most injuriously
affected the health of the crews. Dr. Hales' system was employed in the
_Prince_ from 1753 to 1798, and it was considered that the durability of
this vessel had been greatly increased. It was also reported by Lord
Halifax that the mortality on the non-ventilated ships on the coast of
Nova Scotia was twelve times as great as on those vessels which were
fitted with Dr. Hales' appliances.

There are not many records in existence of the merchant-vessels of this
period. Fig. 54 is a representation of an armed East Indiaman which was
launched at Blackwall in 1752. Her length of keel was 108 ft. 9 in.;
breadth, 34 ft.; and burthen, 668 tons. She was named the _Falmouth_,
and was constructed by the famous shipbuilder, John Perry, of Blackwall
Yard. She was commenced almost exactly two years before the date of her
launch. Like all her class, she was heavily armed.

[Illustration: FIG. 54.--The _Falmouth_. East Indiaman. Launched 1752.]

At the close of the war against France and Spain, which lasted from 1744
to 1748, great complaints were made of the weakness of our warships at
sea. It was also found that the establishment of 1719 had not been
adhered to, and the dimensions of ships were not fixed in accordance
with any particular standard. The first defect was remedied by the
placing of as many standards of wood, or iron, on the different decks as
could be conveniently arranged, so as not to interfere with the guns,
and by the use of larger bolts than had hitherto been employed, as high
up as possible in the throats of the hanging knees. Also the beams of
the quarter-deck and round-house were supported with lodging knees, and
in some instances with hanging knees of wood, or iron. Various other
pieces, such as the stem, were also strengthened and the weights of the
taffrails and quarter-pieces were reduced. The advice of the master
shipwrights of the various dockyards was sought, in order to fix a new
establishment of dimensions, but great difficulties were found in
introducing the much-needed reforms, and for some time afterwards the
ships of the British Navy were at a disadvantage with those of foreign
countries by reason of their contracted dimensions and inferior forms.

The capture, with great difficulty, of a Spanish ship of seventy guns,
named the _Princessa_, in 1740, by three British men-of-war of equal
rating, but far inferior dimensions, was one of the events that first
opened the eyes of the Admiralty to the defects of their vessels. The
first attempt towards introducing a better type of ship was made in
1746, when the _Royal George_, famous for her size, her services, her
beauty and misfortunes, was laid down. She was not launched till 1756.
The following were her principal dimensions:--

  Length of keel for tonnage      143 ft. 5-1/2 in.
  Length of gun-deck              178 ft.
  Extreme breadth                  51 ft. 9-1/2 in.
  Depth of hold                    21 ft. 6 in.
  Tonnage                        2047
  Number of guns                  100
  Crew                            750 men.

Fig. 55 is an illustration of this ship. She rendered great services to
the country under the orders of Admiral Lord Hawke, especially in the
memorable defeat of the French Navy off the island of Belle-isle in
1759. She was lost at Spithead in 1782, when being inclined in order to
have some repairs to her bottom executed. She capsized, and went under,
900 men, women, and children being drowned in her.

The _Royal George_ was followed by several others of various rates and
improved dimensions, notably by the _Blenheim_ (90) and the _Princess
Amelia_ (80). The latter was one of the most famous ships of her day,
and was constantly employed as long as she continued fit for service. In
1747 a French ship of seventy-four guns named the _Invincible_ was
captured, and was found to be such an excellent vessel that her
dimensions were adopted for the _Thunderer_, laid down about 1758. One
of the most interesting models in the Museum is of the _Triumph_ (74),
also built on the lines of the _Invincible_ in 1764. Her length of
gun-decks was 171 ft. 3 in.; breadth, 49 ft. 9 in.; depth of hold, 21
ft. 3 in.

In the following year was built the _Victory_, 100 guns, famous as
Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, and still afloat in Portsmouth Harbour.
Her dimensions are: length of gun-deck, 186 ft.; breadth, 52 ft.; depth
of hold, 21 ft. 6 in.; tonnage, 2,162.

[Illustration: FIG. 55.--The _Royal George_. 1746.]

The following table gives the dimensions of typical ships of war
constructed about the middle of the eighteenth century:--

  Number of      |   100   |    90   |    80   |    74   |    64    |   50
    guns.        |         |         |         |         |          |
  Length of      | 178 ft. | 176 ft. | 165 ft. | 171 ft. | 159 ft.  | 146 ft.
    gun-deck     |         |  1 in.  |         |  3 in.  |  4 in.   |
                 |         |         |         |         |          |
  Length of keel | 143 ft. | 142 ft. | 133 ft. | 138 ft. | 130 ft.  | 120 ft.
    for tonnage  |  6 in.  |  7 in.  |         |  8 in.  | 9-1/2 in.|  8-1/2 in.
                 |         |         |         |         |          |
  Extreme        | 51 ft.  | 49 ft.  | 47 ft.  | 49 ft.  | 44 ft.   | 40 ft.
    breadth      |9-1/2 in.|  1 in.  |  3 in.  |  9 in.  | 6-1/2 in.| 4-1/2 in.
                 |         |         |         |         |          |
  Depth of hold  | 21 ft.  | 21 ft.  | 20 ft.  | 21 ft.  | 18 ft.   | 17 ft.
                 |  6 in.  |         |         |  3 in.  | 9-3/4 in.|  2 in.
                 |         |         |         |         |          |
  Tonnage        |  2,047  |  1,827  |  1,580  |  1,825  |  1,380   |  1,046
                 |         |         |         |         |          |

The genuine frigate--that is to say, a large cruiser, of relatively high
speed, carrying its main armament on one deck--was introduced into the
Royal Navy in 1741, when the _Adventure_ was built. She carried
thirty-two guns, of which twenty-two were 12-pounders. The first British
36-gun frigates were the _Brilliant_ and _Pallas_, built in 1757. Their
main armament also consisted of 12-pounders. French frigates of the same
date were of larger dimensions, as is proved by the following table
which compares the principal measurements of the _Brilliant_ and of the
French frigate _Aurore_:--

  Name of   | Length of | Breadth.  | Depth of | Tonnage. | Complement.
  ship.     | gun-deck. |           | hold.    |          |
            |  ft. in.  | ft. in.   | ft. in.  |          |
            |           |           |          |          |
  Brilliant |  128 4    |  35 8     |  12 4    |   718    |    240
  Aurore    |  144 0    |  38 8-1/2 |  15 2    |   946    |    250
            |           |           |          |          |

In the year 1761 a most important improvement was introduced, which
greatly increased the usefulness of ships. This was the discovery of the
value of copper plates as a material for sheathing their bottoms.
Previously to this period lead was the metal used for sheathing
purposes, and even it was only employed occasionally. In other cases the
bottoms of vessels were paid over with various compositions, the
majority of which fouled rapidly. The first vessel in the navy that was
copper-sheathed was the _Alarm_, a 32-gun frigate. At first the use of
copper caused serious oxidation of the iron bolts employed in the bottom
fastenings, and copper bolts were substituted for them.

About the year 1788 the dimensions of the various rates were again
increased in order to keep pace with the improved French and Spanish
ships. In the year 1780 the 38-gun frigate founded on a French model was
introduced into the navy, and continued to be much used throughout the
great wars at the close of the eighteenth and the commencement of the
nineteenth century. The first British frigate of this rating was the
_Minerva_, which measured 141 ft. in length of gun-deck; 38 ft. 10 in.
width of beam; 13 ft. 9 in. depth of hold, and 940 tons--figures which
were evidently based on those of the _Aurore_, captured in 1758 (see p.
128). In 1781 and 1782 two very large French frigates were captured.
Their names were the _Artois_ and _Aigle_, and they exceeded in size
anything in this class that had yet been built. The length of gun-deck
measured 158 ft.; width, 40 ft. 4 in.; depth of hold, 13 ft. 6 in.;
tonnage, 1,152; they each carried 42 guns and 280 men.

Again, in 1790, the force of new ships of the various rates was much
increased. The largest line-of-battle ship then built was the
_Hibernia_, of 110 guns. She was the first of her class introduced into
the navy. Her dimensions were as follows:--Length on gun-deck, 201 ft. 2
in.; extreme breadth, 53 ft. 1 in.; depth of hold, 22 ft. 4 in.; burthen
in tons, 2,508. The armament consisted of thirty 32-pounders on the
lower deck, thirty 24-pounders on the middle, and thirty-two 18-pounders
on the upper decks, while eighteen 12-pounders were mounted on the
forecastle and quarter-deck. It is worthy of remark that, for some time
previously, the large line-of-battle ships carried 42-pounders on the
lower deck, but it was found that the 32-pounders could be loaded much
more quickly, and that a great advantage arose in consequence.

[Illustration: FIG. 56.--The _Commerce de Marseille_. Captured 1792.]

In the year 1792 the first 40-gun frigate, the _Acasta_, was built. This
type of vessel was intended to replace the old 44-gun two-decker. The
_Acasta_ measured 150 ft. on deck; 40 ft. 9-1/2 in. extreme breadth; 14
ft. 3 in. depth of hold; with a burthen of 1,142 tons. Her armament
consisted of thirty 18-pounders on the main deck, and ten 9-pounder long
guns on quarter-deck and forecastle.

[Illustration: FIG. 57.--British first-rate. 1794.]

During the whole of our naval history down to comparatively recent
times, improvements in the dimensions and forms of our ships were only
carried out after they had been originally adopted by the French, or
Spaniards, or more recently by the people of the United States of
America. Thus, we find that, shortly after war had been declared against
the French Revolutionary Government in 1792, Admiral Hood took
possession at Toulon, amongst other vessels, of a French first-rate
called the _Commerce de Marseille_, which was larger and mounted more
guns than any vessel in the service of Great Britain. Fig. 56 is an
illustration of this fine man-of-war, which was 208 ft. 4 in. long on
the lower deck, 54 ft. 9-1/2 in. broad, of 25 ft. depth of hold, and of
2,747 tons burthen. As an instance of the progress in size, as related
to armament, made during the century, we may compare the dimensions of
this French first-rate with those of the _Royal Anne_, an English
100-gun ship built in 1706. The length of gun-deck of the latter ship
was 171 ft. 9 in., and tonnage 1,809, the more recent vessel showing an
increase of nearly fifty per cent. in tonnage for an increased armament
of twenty guns.

As further examples of the naval architecture of this period, in Figs.
57 and 58 are given views of an English first-rate of the year 1794, and
in Figs. 59 and 60 corresponding views of a heavy French frigate of
about the year 1780.

One of the greatest improvements made at the end of the eighteenth
century was the raising of the lower battery further above the water,
so as to enable the heavy guns to be fought in all weathers. It was
frequently observed that the old British men-of-war of seventy-four guns
when engaging a hostile vessel to leeward were, on account of the
crankness of the ship and the lowness of the battery, obliged to keep
their lower ports closed; whereas the French ships, which were
comparatively stiff, and carried their lower guns well above the water,
were enabled to fight with the whole of their battery in all weathers.

[Illustration: FIG. 58.--British first-rate. 1794.]

After the capture of the _Commerce de Marseille_, an English first-rate,
named the _Caledonia_, to carry 120 guns, was ordered to be laid down.
She was not, however, commenced till 1805. Her dimensions and
proportions closely approximated to those of her French prototype, and
need not, therefore, be more particularly referred to. She was the first
120-gun ship built in this country.

[Illustration: FIG. 59.--Heavy French frigate of 1780.]

In the year 1812 the United States declared war against Great Britain.
The struggle was memorable for several naval duels between the frigates
of the two nations. When the war broke out the United States possessed
some frigates of unusual dimensions and armament. The British cruisers
were quite overmatched, and in several instances were captured. In
consequence of these disasters a new and improved class of frigate was
introduced into the Royal Navy. What had happened in the case of the
frigates took place also in regard to the sloops employed as cruisers.
They were completely outmatched by the American vessels of corresponding
class, and many of them were taken.

[Illustration: FIG. 60.--Heavy French frigate of 1780.]

In 1815, on the conclusion of the long wars with France, there was, of
course, a marked diminution in the number of ships built for purposes of
war. The _Howe_, of 120 guns (Fig. 61), is given as an illustration of a
first-rate of this period.

During the earlier years of the present century great improvements were
introduced by Sir Robert Seppings and others into the structural
arrangements of ships. During the long wars abundant experience had been
gained as to the particular kinds of weakness which ships exhibited when
exposed to the strains produced by waves. It had been felt for many
years that the system of building was very defective, and the life of a
man-of-war was consequently short, only fifteen years for a ship built
of English oak in the Royal dockyards, and about twelve years for
similar vessels built in private yards. Amongst the greatest defects was
the absence of longitudinal strength to enable a ship to resist the
effects of hogging and sagging strains in a sea-way.

[Illustration: FIG. 61.--The _Howe_. 1815.]

When a ship at sea is so placed that the crest of a large wave is
passing about the midship section, the two ends may happen to be in the
hollows between the waves, and in this case are to a great extent
unsupported by the water, and consequently have a tendency to droop. The
result is that the ship tends to arch up in the centre like a hog's
back, and the upper decks are put into a state of tension, while the
bottom of the vessel, on the contrary, undergoes compression. The
strains set up in this way are called hogging strains. When the position
of the waves is exactly reversed so that the two ends are supported by
the crests, while the hollow between them passes under the middle, the
latter part of the ship has a tendency to droop or sag, and the bottom
is consequently extended, while the upper works are put into a state of

It will be noticed, on referring to the illustration of the _Royal
George_ (Fig. 55), that the framework of ships built on the old system
consisted of a series of transverse ribs which were connected together
in the longitudinal direction by the outside planking and by the
ceiling. As there was no filling between the ribs, the latter tended
alternately to come closer together, or recede further apart, according
as they experienced the influence of hogging or sagging stresses. The
French during the eighteenth century had at various times proposed
methods of overcoming this defect. One was to cross the ceiling with
oblique iron riders. Another was to lay the ceiling itself and the
outside planking diagonally. Sometimes the holds were strengthened with
vertical and sometimes with diagonal riders, but none of these plans
gave lasting satisfaction.

The means adopted by Sir Robert Seppings were as follows:--

Firstly, the spaces between the frames were filled in solid with timber
(Fig. 62). In this way the bottom of the ship was transformed into a
solid mass of timber admirably adapted to resist working. At the same
time the customary interior planking below the orlop beams was omitted.

[Illustration: FIG. 62.--Sir Robert Seppings' system of construction.]

Secondly, the beams were connected with the sides of the ship by means
of thick longitudinal timbers below the knees running fore and aft,
called shelf-pieces, _a_, _a_ (Fig. 63), and similar pieces above the
beams, _b_, _b_ (Fig. 63), called waterways. These not only added to the
longitudinal strength of the ship, but formed also very convenient
features in the connection between the deck-beams and the ship's sides.

[Illustration: FIG. 63.--Sir Robert Seppings' system of construction.]

Thirdly, a trussed frame was laid on the inside of the transverse frames
in the hold of the ship. This frame consisted of diagonal riders making
an angle of about 45° with the vertical, together with trusses crossing
them, and longitudinal pieces, as shown in Fig. 62. This trussed frame
was firmly bolted through the transverse frames and the planking of the

Fourthly, it was proposed to lay the decks diagonally; but this system
does not appear to have ever come into general use.

It should here be mentioned that the use of shelf-pieces and thick
waterways in connection with the ends of the beams was first adopted by
the French in very small vessels; also the system of fillings between
the frames was an extension of a method which had been in use for some
time, for it was customary to fill in the spaces as far as the heads of
the floors, in order to strengthen the ship's bottom against the shocks
and strains due to grounding.

[Illustration: FIG. 64.--Sir Robert Seppings' system of construction.]

Sir Robert Seppings further introduced many minor improvements into the
details of the construction and the forms of ships. Amongst these may be
mentioned the method of combining the frame-timbers. The old method of
shaping the heads and heels of these timbers and of combining them with
triangular chocks is shown on the left-hand side of Fig. 64. In the new
method the heads and heels were cut square, and combined with circular
coaks, as shown on the right-hand side in the same Fig.]

[Illustration: FIG. 65.--The _Waterloo_.]

The principal alterations in the forms of ships introduced by Sir Robert
Seppings, were connected with the shapes of the bow and stern. Hitherto
the bow was cut straight across at the cathead, so as to form a vertical
wall extending down to the level of the upper deck portsills, and formed
of thin boarding and stanchions. The old shape of the bow is clearly
shown in Figs. 52 and 55. The disadvantage of this arrangement was that
it exposed the ship to the raking fire of an enemy. The old form of bow
was also deficient in structural strength, and was liable to cause
leakage. Sir Robert Seppings carried the rounding of the bow right up to
the upper deck, and made it as strong as any other part of the ship to
resist either shot or stresses. This alteration also enabled him to
provide for firing several guns in a line with the keel. The old square
stern was also abolished and a circular one introduced, which enabled a
more powerful battery to be carried aft.

In order to bring up the account of British sailing line-of-battle ships
to the period when they were superseded by the adoption of steam-power
in the Royal Navy, we give illustrations of a first-rate launched in the
reign of William IV., called the _Waterloo_ (Fig. 65), of 120 guns, and
of the _Queen_ (Fig. 66), of 110 guns: the latter was the first
three-decker launched in the reign of Queen Victoria. A comparison of
these illustrations with those representing the largest men-of-war in
the time of the Stuart sovereigns, will do more than any verbal
description to show the great alterations in form and size which had
taken place during two centuries. The _Waterloo_ had a length on deck of
205 ft. 6 in., extreme breadth of 54 ft. 9 in., and a tonnage of 2,718;
while the corresponding dimensions of the _Queen_ were 204 ft. 2-1/2
in., 55 ft. 2-1/2 in., and 3,104 tons.

[Illustration: FIG. 66.--The _Queen_.]

[Illustration: FIG. 67.--The _Thames_. East Indiaman. 1819.]

During the epoch covered in this chapter the chronicles of the British
Mercantile Marine were extremely meagre. The seaborne commerce of the
country had increased enormously since the time of the Restoration. It
had, in fact, kept pace with the development of the Royal Navy, and, in
proportion as the naval power of the country was increased so was her
commerce extended and her Mercantile Marine increased. In the year 1801
the total amount of British Mercantile shipping was about 1,726,000
tons; in 1811 it had increased to 2,163,094 tons, and in 1816 to
2,489,068; while in 1846 it had reached 3,220,685 tons. The East India
Company was by far the largest mercantile shipowner and ship-hirer in
the country. In the year 1772 the Company employed 33 ships of the
aggregate burthen of 23,159 tons, builders' measurement. It was about
this period that the Company commenced the construction of a larger type
of vessel for their own use. These vessels afterwards became famous for
their exploits, and were called East Indiamen. Fig. 67 is an
illustration of one of them named the _Thames_, built in 1819, of 1,360
tons register. She carried 26 guns, and had a crew of 130 men.

East Indiamen were designed to serve simultaneously as freight-carriers,
passenger-ships and men-of-war. In the latter capacity they fought many
important actions and won many victories. Having had to fill so many
purposes, they were naturally expensive ships both to build and work.
Their crews were nearly four times as numerous as would be required for
modern merchant sailing-ships of similar size.

At the close of the great wars in the early part of this century
commercial pursuits naturally received a strong impetus. Great
competition arose, not only between individual owners, but also between
the shipowning classes in various countries. This caused considerable
attention to be paid to the improvement of merchant-ships. The objects
sought to be attained were greater economy in the working of vessels and
increased speed combined with cargo-carrying capacity. The trade with
the West Indies was not the subject of a monopoly as that with the East
had been. It was consequently the subject of free competition amongst
shipowners, and the natural result was the development of a class of
vessel much better adapted to purely mercantile operations than were the
ships owned or chartered by the East India Company. Fig. 68 is a late
example of a West Indiaman, of the type common shortly after the
commencement of the nineteenth century. The capacity for cargo of ships
of this type was considerably in excess of their nominal tonnage,
whereas in the case of the East Indiamen the reverse was the case. Also,
the proportion of crew to tonnage was one-half of what was found
necessary in the latter type of vessel. While possessing the above-named
advantages, the West Indiamen were good boats for their time, both in
sea-going qualities and in speed.

[Illustration: FIG. 68.]

When the trade with the East was thrown open an impetus was given to the
construction of vessels which were suitable for carrying freight to any
part of the world. These boats were known as "Free Traders." An
illustration of one of them is given in Fig. 69. They were generally
from 350 to 700 tons register. The vessels of all the types above
referred to were very short, relatively, being rarely more than four
beams in length.

To the Americans belongs the credit of having effected the greatest
improvements in mercantile sailing-ships. In their celebrated Baltimore
clippers they increased the length to five and even six times the beam,
and thus secured greater sharpness of the water-lines and improved speed
in sailing. At the same time, in order to reduce the cost of working,
these vessels were lightly rigged in proportion to their tonnage, and
mechanical devices, such as capstans and winches, were substituted,
wherever it was possible, for manual labour. The crew, including
officers, of an American clipper of 1,450 tons, English measurement,
numbered about forty.

The part played by the Americans in the carrying trade of the world
during the period between the close of the great wars and the early
fifties was so important that a few illustrations of the types of
vessels they employed will be interesting. Fig. 70 represents an
American cotton-ship, which also carried passengers on the route between
New York and Havre in the year 1832. In form she was full and bluff; in
fact, little more than a box with rounded ends.

[Illustration: FIG. 69.--Free-trade barque.]

[Illustration: FIG. 70.--The _Bazaar_. American cotton-ship. 1832.]

In 1840, when steamers had already commenced to cross the Atlantic, a
much faster and better-shaped type of sailing-packet was put upon the
New York-Havre route. These vessels were of from 800 to 1,000 tons. One
of them, the _Sir John Franklin_, is shown in Fig. 71. They offered to
passengers the advantages of a quick passage, excellent sea-going
qualities, and, compared with the cotton-ships, most comfortable
quarters. The Americans had also about this time admirable
sailing-packets trading with British ports.

In the early fifties the doom of the sailing-packet on comparatively
short voyages, such as that between New York and Western European ports,
had been already sealed; but, for distant countries, such as China and
Australia, and for cargo-carrying purposes in many trades, the
sailing-ship was still able to hold its own. Fig. 72 represents an
American three-masted clipper called the _Ocean Herald_, built in the
year 1855. She was 245 ft. long, 45 ft. in beam, and of 2,135 tons. Her
ratio of length to breadth was 5.45 to 1.

Fig. 73 is an illustration of the _Great Republic_, which was one of the
finest of the American clippers owned by Messrs. A. Law and Co., of New
York. She was 305 ft. long, 53 ft. beam, 30 ft. depth of hold, and of
3,400 tons. She was the first vessel fitted with double topsails. Her
spread of canvas, without counting stay-sails, amounted to about 4,500
square yards. She had four decks, and her timber structure was
strengthened from end to end with a diagonal lattice-work of iron.

The speed attained by some of these vessels was most remarkable. In 1851
the _Nightingale_, built at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in a race from
Shanghai to Deal, on one occasion ran 336 knots in twenty-four hours. In
the same year the _Flying Cloud_, one of Donald McKay's American
clippers, ran 427 knots in twenty-four hours in a voyage from New York
to San Francisco. This performance was eclipsed by that of another
vessel belonging to the same owner, the _Sovereign of the Seas_, which
on one occasion averaged over eighteen miles an hour for twenty-four
consecutive hours. This vessel had a length of keel of 245 ft., 44 ft. 6
in. beam, and 25 ft. 6 in. depth of hold. She was of 2,421 tons

[Illustration: FIG. 71.--The _Sir John Franklin_. American Transatlantic
sailing-packet. 1840.]

[Illustration: FIG. 72.--The _Ocean Herald_. American clipper. 1855.]

English shipowners were very slow to adopt these improvements, and it
was not till the year 1850, after the abolition of the navigation laws,
that our countrymen really bestirred themselves to produce sailing-ships
which should rival and even surpass those of the Americans. The
legislation in question so affected the prospects of British shipping,
that nothing but the closest attention to the qualities of vessels and
to economy in their navigation could save our carrying trade from the
effects of American competition. Mr. Richard Green, of the Blackwall
Line, was the first English shipbuilder to take up the American
challenge. In the year 1850 he laid down the clipper ship the
_Challenger_. About the same time, Messrs. Jardine, Matheson, and Co.
gave an order to an Aberdeen firm of shipbuilders, Messrs. Hall and Co.,
to build two sharp ships on the American model, but of stronger
construction. These vessels were named the _Stornoway_ and _Chrysolite_,
and were the first of the celebrated class of Aberdeen clippers. They
were, however, only about half the dimensions of the larger American
ships, and were, naturally, no match for them in sailing powers. The
_Cairngorm_, built by the same firm, was the first vessel which equalled
the Americans in speed, and, being of a stronger build, delivered her
cargo in better condition, and consequently was preferred. In 1856 the
_Lord of the Isles_, built by Messrs. Scott, of Greenock, beat two of
the fastest American clippers in a race to this country from China, and
from that time forward British merchant vessels gradually regained their
ascendency in a trade which our transatlantic competitors had almost
made their own.

[Illustration: FIG 73.--The _Great Republic_. American clipper. 1853.]

It was not, however, by wooden sailing-ships that the carrying trade of
Great Britain was destined to eclipse that of all her rivals. During a
portion of the period covered in this chapter, two revolutions--one in
the means of propulsion, and the other in the materials of construction
of vessels--were slowly making their influence felt. About twelve years
before the close of the eighteenth century the first really practical
experiment was made on Dalswinton Loch, by Messrs. Miller and Symington,
on the utilization of steam as a means of propulsion for vessels. An
account of these experiments, and of the subsequent application and
development of the invention, are given in the "Handbook on Marine
Engines and Boilers," and need not, therefore, be here referred to at
greater length.

The other great revolution was the introduction of iron instead of wood
as the material for constructing ships. The history of that achievement
forms part of the subject-matter of Part II. During the first half of
the nineteenth century, good English oak had been becoming scarcer and
more expensive. Shortly after the Restoration the price paid for
native-grown oak was about £2 15_s._ a load, this being double its value
in the reign of James I. The great consumption at the end of the
eighteenth and the beginning of the last century had so diminished the
supply, that in 1815, the year in which the great Napoleonic wars
terminated, the price had risen to £7 7_s._ a load, which was, probably,
the highest figure ever reached. In 1833 it sank to £6, and then
continued to rise till, in 1850, it had reached £6 18_s._ per load. In
consequence of the scarcity of English oak many foreign timbers, such as
Dantzic and Italian oak, Italian larch, fir, pitch pine, teak, and
African timbers were tried with varying success. In America timber was
abundant and cheap, and this was one of the causes which led to the
extraordinary development of American shipping in the first half of the
nineteenth century, and it is probable that, but for the introduction of
iron, which was produced abundantly and cheaply in this country, the
carrying trade of the world would have passed definitely into the hands
of the people of the United States.

The use of iron and steel as the materials for construction have enabled
sailing ships to be built in modern times of dimensions which could not
have been thought of in the olden days. These large vessels are chiefly
employed in carrying wheat and nitrate of soda from the west coast of
South America. Their structural arrangements do not differ greatly from
those of iron and steel steamers which are described in Part II.



  During the year 1899 the British Museum acquired a new vase of the
  Dipylon class, which was found near Thebes in Boeotia, and dates
  from about 800 B.C. On one side of the vase are represented chariots
  and horses, apparently about to start for a race. On the other side is
  a painting of a complete bireme, which, on account of its antiquity
  and the peculiarities of its structure is of extraordinary interest.
  The galley in question, Fig. 74, is reproduced from an illustration,
  traced direct from the vase, and published in the "Journal of Hellenic
  Studies," vol. xix. (1899). The chief peculiarity of the construction
  is that the rowers are seated upon a two-storied open staging, erected
  upon a very shallow hull and extending from an elevated forecastle to
  an equally raised structure at the stern. The stage, or platform, on
  which the lower tier of oarsmen is seated, is supported by vertical
  struts rising out of the body of the boat. The platform for the upper
  stage is also supported by vertical struts, which rise, not from the
  boat itself, but from an intermediate stage, situated between the two
  tiers of rowers. In the absence of a plan it is not possible to say if
  these platforms were floored decks, with openings cut in them, where
  necessary, for the legs of the rowers; or if they were simply composed
  of longitudinal beams connected by cross-pieces which served as seats,
  or benches. The latter arrangement appears to be the more probable.
  There are twenty oarsmen a-side, on the lower tier, and, apparently,
  nineteen on the upper. No attempt is made by the artist to show more
  than the rowers on one side, and, to avoid confusion, those on the two
  tiers have their oars on the opposite sides of the galley, and only
  one of the blades of the far side is shown. The men of the lower tier
  rest their feet against supports fixed to the vertical struts which
  support their platform, while those of the upper tier rest theirs,
  apparently, upon the intermediate stage. The vessel is provided with a
  large and a small ram, and is steered by means of two large paddles.
  The prow ornament resembles a snake. In some of its features, notably
  in the shape of the ram, the shallowness of the hull, and the height
  and number of the stages, this galley resembles the Phoenician boat
  of a somewhat later date, described on page 28. The arrangement of the
  rowers is, however, totally different in the two cases, those in the
  Phoenician vessel being all housed in the hull proper, while those
  in the Greek galley are all placed on the stages. It is a curious
  coincidence that the two specimens of galleys of the eighth and
  seventh centuries B.C., of which we possess illustrations, should both
  be provided with these lofty open stages.

  [Illustration: FIG. 74.--Archaic Greek bireme. About 800 B.C.]

  This Greek bireme, with its shallow hull and lofty, open
  superstructure, could hardy have been a seaworthy vessel. The question
  arises, What purpose could it have been intended to serve? The rams,
  of course, suggest war; but the use of rams appears to have been
  pretty general, even in small Greek rowing-boats, and has survived
  into our own day in the Venetian gondola. The late Dr. A. S. Murray,
  keeper of the Greek and Roman antiquities at the British Museum, who
  wrote an account of the vase in the "Journal of Hellenic Studies," is
  of opinion that both the subjects on this vase represent processions,
  or races, held at the funeral ceremonies of some prominent citizen,
  and that, in fact, all the subjects on Dipylon vases seem to refer to
  deceased persons. He points out that Virgil mentions in the _Æneid_
  that games, held in honour of the deceased, commenced with a race of
  ships, and that he could hardly have done this if there were no
  authority for the practice. The large figures at the stern seem to
  point to the bireme of Fig. 74 being about to be used for racing
  purposes. The man who is going to step on board is in the act of
  taking leave of a woman, who holds away from him a crown, or prize,
  for which he may be about to contend. If this view be correct we have,
  at once, an explanation of the very peculiar structure of this bireme,
  which, with its open sides and small freeboard, could only have been
  intended for use in smooth water and, possibly, for racing purposes.

  There are several other representations of Greek galleys, or of
  fragments of them, in existence. Nearly all have been found on
  eighth-century Dipylon vases, but, hitherto, no other specimen has
  been found in which all the rowers are seated on an open stage. In the
  collection of Dr. Sturge there is a vase of this period, ornamented
  with a painting of a bireme, which is as rakish and elegant in
  appearance as Fig. 74 is clumsy. It also is propelled by 78, or
  perhaps 80, rowers. Those of the lower tier are seated in the body of
  the boat, while those of the upper bank on what appears to be a flying
  deck connecting the forecastle and poop, and about 3 ft. to 3 ft. 6
  in. above the seats of the lower tier.

  In the Museum of the Acropolis there are also some fragments of
  Dipylon vases, on which are clearly visible portions of biremes. The
  rowers of the lower bank are here again, seated in the hull of the
  galley and appear to be working their oars in large square portholes,
  while the upper row are seated on a flying deck, the space between
  which and the gunwale of the hull is partly closed in by what appear
  to be patches of awning or light fencing. The portholes above referred
  to are in fact merely open intervals between the closed-in spaces.
  Similar lengths of fencing may be seen in the representation of a
  Phoenician galley (Fig. 7, p. 27).

  From the above description it is not difficult to see how the galley,
  with two tiers of oars, came to be evolved from the more primitive
  unireme. First, a flying deck was added for the accommodation of the
  upper tier of rowers. It formed no part of the structure of the ship,
  but was supported on the latter by means of struts, or pillars. The
  spaces between the hull and the flying deck at the two ends of the
  galley were closed in by a raised forecastle and poop. These additions
  were necessary in order to keep the vessel dry, and attempts were no
  doubt made to give protection to the remainder of the sides by means
  of the patches of light awning mentioned above. The step from this to
  carrying the structure of the sides up bodily, till they met the upper
  deck, and of cutting portholes for the lower tier of oars, would not
  be a long one, and would produce the type of bireme illustrated on p.
  31 (Fig. 9).


[1] This illustration is taken from Mr. Villiers Stuart's work, "Nile

[2] "A History of Egypt under the Pharaohs," by Dr. Henry Brugsch Bey.
      Translated and edited from the German by Philip Smith, B.A.

[3] "Nile Gleanings," p. 309.

[4] The inscription is taken from the "History of Egypt under the
      Pharaohs," by Dr. Henry Brugsch Bey. Translated and edited by
      Philip Smith, B.A. Second edition, pp. 137, 138.

[5] "A History of Egypt under the Pharaohs," by Dr. Henry Brugsch Bey.
      Translated and edited from the German by Philip Smith, B.A.
      Second edition, p. 358.

[6] Egypt Exploration Fund: _Archæological Report_, 1895-1896. Edited by
      F. L. Griffith, M.A.

[7] "The History of Herodotus," translated by G. C. Macaulay, M.A. 1890.
       Vol. i. p. 157. (ii. 96 is the reference to the Greek text.)

[8] In Appendix, p. 157, will be found an account of an eighth-century
      Greek bireme, recently discovered.

[9] For latest information on Greek vessels of Archaic period, _see_

[10] This figure is obtained by adding the height of the lowest oar-port
       above the water, viz. 3 ft., to 2 ft. 6 in., which is twice the
       minimum vertical interval between successive banks.

[11] This illustration is taken from Charnock's "History of Marine
       Architecture." It is copied by Charnock from Basius, who, in
       his turn, has evidently founded it on the sculptures on Trajan's

[12] "Cæsar, de Bello Gallico," bk. iii. chap. 13.

[13] Vol. xxii., p. 298. Paper by Mr. Colin Archer.

[14] "Archéologie Navale."

[15] W. S. Lindsay, "History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce,"
       vol. ii. p. 4.

[16] The details, as related by various authorities, differ slightly.

[17] According to some accounts there were 1,497 bronze and 934 iron
        guns of all calibres.



  Aberdeen clippers, 153

  _Acasta_, first English 40-gun frigate, 131

  _Adventure_, first genuine English frigate, 128

  _Alarm_, first copper-sheathed frigate, 128

  Alfred the Great founds English Navy, 56

  American clipper, the _Great Republic_, 1853..150

  ----, ----, the _Ocean Herald_, 1855..150

  ----, clippers, speeds attained by, 150

  ----, cotton-ship, the _Bazaar_, 148, 149

  ----, frigates, superiority of, in 1812..133

  ----, transatlantic sailing-packet the _Sir John Franklin_, 1840..148

  Anchors, first use of capstans for weighing, 101

  _Ark_, Elizabethan warship, 98

  Ark, Noah's, account of, 6

  Armada, Spanish, account of, 97

  Artillery, effect of introduction on designs of ships, 77

  ----, first use of, by Venetians on board ship, 77

  ----, first use of, in naval warfare, 76, 77. _See also_ GUNS

  _Artois_ and _Aigle_, French frigates of 1781, dimensions of, 129

  Athenian docks, dimensions of, 41

  _Aurore_, French frigate of 1757, dimensions of, 128


  Baltimore clippers, 147

  Barge, Egyptian, used for transporting obelisks down Nile, 21

  _Bazaar_, American cotton-ship, 148, 149

  Bireme, Greek, of about 500 B.C., 31

  ----, ----, of about 800 B.C., 157.

  ----, Roman, 44

    _See also_ GALLEYS

  Boat, Egyptian, of the third dynasty, 12

  ----, ----, of the fourth dynasty, 14

  Boats, Egyptian, in time of Herodotus, 24

  ----, ----, of the sixth dynasty, 14

  ----, ----, of the twelfth dynasty now in existence, 25

  ----, of the ancient Britons, 55

  Bomb-ketches, introduction of, 118

  _Brilliant_, English frigate of 1757, dimensions of, 128

  _Britannia_, warship of Charles II., 114, 116

  Britons, boats of, 55

  Buccas, or busses, 67


  Cabins, first mention of, on English ships, 73

  Cables, use of, for girding ancient ships, 52

  Cabot's voyages to America, 89

  _Cairngorm_, clipper, 153

  _Caledonia_, English first-rate of 1805..133

  Canynge of Bristol, shipowner of the fifteenth century, 84

  Capstans first used for weighing anchors, 101

  Caravels, 84, 88, 91

  Carracks in the fifteenth century, 81

  ----, in the sixteenth century, 96

  ----, Spanish and Portuguese, end of the sixteenth century, 101

  Carthaginian naval expedition against Greek colonies, 30

  Caulking of ancient galleys, 53

  Chain-pumps, introduction of, 101

  _Challenger_, first English clipper, 153

  Charles I., warships of, 108

  Charles II., warships of, 114

  Classification of ships in time of Henry V., 80

  Clipper, American, the _Great Republic_, 1853..150

  ----, ----, the _Ocean Herald_, 1855..150

  ----, the _Cairngorm_, 153

  ----, the _Lord of the Isles_, 153

  Clippers, Aberdeen, 153

  ----, American, speeds attained by, 150

  ----, Baltimore, 147

  ----, English, 153 _et seq_.

  Columbus' ships, 87 _et seq_.

  _Commerce de Marseille_, French first-rate of 1792, particulars of, 131

  Commerce of England in reign of Henry III., 69

  ----, ----, in reign of Edward IV., 85

  Commonwealth, naval expenditure under, 114

  ----, naval wars of, 112

  ----, warships of, 114

  Competition between Great Britain and the United States for the
    world's carrying trade in 1850, 2

  ----, for the world's carrying trade, probable renewal of, 4

  _Constant Warwick_, English frigate, 1646..117

  Construction of Greek and Roman galleys, 40

  Construction of Viking ship, 59

  ----, of wooden battleships, 125, 135

  Copper-plating ships' bottoms, introduction of, 128

  Crews of English ships, end of the twelfth century, 67

  ----, ----, ----, early fourteenth century, 73

  ----, ----, ----, reign of Elizabeth, 98

  ----, ----, ----, seventeenth century, 117

  ----, of Greek triremes, 42

  ----, of Roman quinqueremes, 44

  Cutters, earliest notice of, 111


  Danish ship, description of ancient, 63

  Decks, use of, in Egyptian ships, 14, 20

  ----, ----, in Greek galleys, 33, 34, 43, 44, 157, 160

  ----, ----, in Phoenician galleys, 28

  Dêr-el-Bahari, maritime records on the temple of, 18

  Dimensions of American clippers, 150

  ----, of Athenian docks, 41

  ----, of Columbus' ship, 89

  ----, of East Indiaman of 1752..123

  ----, of English warships, 106, 110, 116, 117, 121, 126, 128, 129,
          131, 142

  ----, of Greek triremes, 41

  ----, of Italian ships built for France in the thirteenth century, 73

  ----, of sixteenth century carrack, 96

  Dover seal, ship on, 72

  Drake circumnavigates globe, 99

  Dromons, 67


  East India Company, early voyages of, 100, 108

  ----, ----, ----, Elizabeth grants charter to, 100

  ----, ----, ----, James I. grants charter to, 108

  ----, ----, ----, origin of, 100

  ----, ----, ----, in 1772..145

  East Indiaman of 1752..123, 124

  ----, ----, of 1819 (the _Thames_), 144, 145

  _Edward Bonaventure_, Elizabethan merchant-ship, 99, 100

  Edward III.'s fleet in 1347..76

  Edward III., naval wars of, 74

  ----, ships of, 76

  Edward IV., English commerce in reign of, 85

  Egypt, favourable situation of, for development of shipbuilding, 7

  ----, transport of granite blocks down Nile, 9, 14, 15

  Egyptian barge for transporting obelisks down Nile, 22

  ----, boat of the third dynasty, 12

  ----, ----, of the fourth dynasty, 14

  ----, ----, of the sixth dynasty, 14

  ----, boats in time of Herodotus, 24

  ----, ----, of the twelfth dynasty, now in existence, 25

  ----, maritime expeditions to the land of Punt, 16, 18

  ----, naval expedition against the Shepherd Kings, 18

  ----, religion, influence of, on the development of shipbuilding, 7

  ----, ships used in Hatshepsu's expedition to Punt, 18

  ----, warships of Ramses III., 23

  _Elizabeth Jones_, Elizabethan warship, 98

  Elizabethan fleet, 98, 102
  ----, maritime expeditions, 99
  ----, merchant-shipping, 98, 99

  English clippers, 153 _et seq._

  ----, commerce in the reign of Henry III., 69

  ----, ----, ----, of Edward IV., 85

  ----, first-rate of 1637, _Sovereign of the Seas_, 110

  ----, ----, of 1673, _Royal Charles_, 114, 116

  ----, ----, of 1706, _Royal Anne_, 131

  ----, ----, of 1746, _Royal George_, 125, 127

  ----, ----, of 1790, _Hibernia_, 129

  ----, ----, of 1794..131 _et seq._

  ----, ----, of 1805, _Caledonia_, 133

  ----, ----, of 1815, _Howe_, 135

  ----, ----, time of William IV., _Waterloo_, 141, 142

  ----, ----, beginning of Queen Victoria's reign, _Queen_, 142, 143

  ----, fourth-rate, end of the seventeenth century, 121

  ----, mercantile marine in time of James I., 107

  ----, ----, ----, in first half of the nineteenth century, 142

  ----, second-rate, end of the seventeenth century, 121

  ----, shipbuilding, excellence of, in time of Charles I., 111

  ----, ships, Sir Walter Raleigh's criticisms on, 107

  ----, warships in the reign of Henry VII., 92

  ----, ----, ----, of Henry VIII., 93

  ----, ----, ----, of Elizabeth, 98

  ----, ----, ----, of James I., 104 _et seq._

  ----, ----, ----, of Charles I., 110

  ----, ----, in the Commonwealth, 114

  ----, ----, in the reign of Charles II., 114, 117

  ----, ----, ----, of Anne, 121

  ----, ----, ----, of George II., 128

  ----, ----, ----, of George III., 129 _et seq._

  ----, ----, ----, of William IV., 142

  ----, ----, ----, of Victoria, 142

  ----, ----, increase of size of various rates in 1788..129

  ----, ----, of the middle of the eighteenth century, defects of, 123


  _Falmouth_, East Indiaman of 1752, 124, 125

  Fleet of Richard Coeur de Lion for invasion of Palestine, 67

  Fleet of Edward III. for invasion of France in 1347, 76

  ----, of Henry V. for invasion of France, 82

  ----, of Queen Elizabeth to oppose Armada, 98, 102

  Fleets of the Saxon Kings of England, 56

  Forecastles, developments of, 72, 73, 75, 80, 83, 85, 89, 95, 102

  Frigate, French, of 1780, 129, 131, 134, 135

  Frigates, _Brilliant_ and _Aurore_, of 1757, dimensions of, 128

  ----, introduction of, 117, 128

  ----, of thirty-eight guns, introduced 1780, 129

  ----, of forty guns, introduced 1792, 131

  ----, superiority of American in 1812, 133

  "Free Traders," 147

  French first-rate of 1792, particulars of, 131

  ----, frigates of 1780, 129, 131, 134, 135

  ----, naval architects, influence of, 118, 120

  ----, ----, power under Louis XIV., 118

  ----, Navy, foundation of, 79


  Galleasses, Spanish, 1588, 97
  ----, Venetian, end of the sixteenth century, 103

  Galleon, Venetian, of the sixteenth century, 78

  Galley, Archaic Greek, about 800 B.C., 157

  ----, Greek, without deck, 33

  ----, of eleven banks, alleged to have been built in Cyprus, 35

  ----, of sixteen banks, brought to Rome by Æmilius Paulus, 36

  ----, Phoenician, of the seventh century, 27

  ----, Ptolemy Philopater's, criticism of account of, 45

  ----, Venetian, of the fourteenth century, 77

  Galleys, ancient, caulking of, 53

  ----, ----, structural arrangements of, 51 _et seq._

  ----, ----, timber used in construction of, 50

  ----, arrangement of rowers in, 43, 47

  ----, Greek and Roman, details of construction of, 40 _et seq._

  ----, Greek, rams of, 31, 52, 53

  ----, Liburnian, 37

  ----, many-banked, arrangement of oars in, 47

  ----, ----, disused after Actium, 37

  ----, ----, use of, by Ptolemies, 37

  ----, ----, use of, in Greece, 35

  ----, reasons for arrangement of oars in banks, 42

  ----, Roman, use of lead sheathing in, 53

  ----, ----, use of turrets in, 54

  ----, ----, used against Carthaginians, 36

  ----, speeds of, 48, 50

  ----, use of decks in, 28, 34, 36, 43, 44, 157, 160

  ----, use of sails in, 43

  ----, used by Alexander the Great, 35

  ----, Venetian, number of rowers to oars of, 47

  ----, with four banks of oars, use of, by Athenians, 35

  ----, with five banks of oars, use of, by Athenians and Syracusans, 35


  Genoese ship built for France, 1268, 73

  _Great Republic_, American clipper, 1853, 150

  Greece, ancient, shipbuilding in, 28

  ----, favourable geographical situation of, for navigation, 28

  Greek bireme of about 800 B.C., 157

  ----, bireme of about 500 B.C., 31

  ----, galley without deck, 33

  ----, galleys, rams of, 31, 52, 53

  Greek merchant-ship of about 500 B.C., 38

  ----, penteconters, 35

  ----, triremes, crews of, 42

  ----, ----, details of, 41

  ----, unireme of about 500 B.C., 31

  Greeks (ancient), naval expeditions of, 29

  Guns, naval, time of Henry VIII., 95



  Hatshepsu's expedition to the land of Punt, 18

  _Henry Grace a Dieu_, warship of Henry VIII., 93

  Henry V., classification of ships of, 81

  ----, fleet of, for invasion of France, 82

  ----, naval development in reign of, 80

  Henry VI., ship of reign of, 83

  Henry VII., naval development in reign of, 92

  Henry VIII., naval guns in time of, 95

  ----, warships of, 93

  Herodotus, account of Egyptian boats by, 24

  _Hibernia_, battleship of 1790, particulars of, 129

  _Hollandia_, Dutch warship of 1683..116

  _Howe_, English first-rate of 1815..135


  _Invincible_, French warship of 1747..126

  Italian fifteenth century ship, 79


  James I. appoints Commission to inquire into state of Navy, 104

  ----, development of merchant shipping under, 108

  ----, warships of, 104 _et seq._


  _La Blanche Nef_, loss of, 67

  Lancaster's expedition to East Indies, 100

  La Rochelle, naval battle of, in 1372..77

  Lead-sheathing, use of, in Roman galleys, 53

  Lepanto, naval battle of, 103

  L'Espagnols-sur-Mer, naval battle of, 77

  Liburnian galleys, 37

  _Lord of the Isles_, Greenock clipper, 153

  Libyan boats in ancient Egypt, 9


  _Madre de Dios_, Portuguese carrack, 101

  _Marie la Cordelière_, French warship, 1512..93

  Maritime expedition round Africa sent out by Nekau, 24

  ----, ----, to land of Punt, 16, 18

  ----, ----, Elizabethan, 99


  Masting of warships in Tudor period, 95

  Masts of ancient Egyptian boats, 13

  Mediæval ships, 65 _et seq._

  Mercantile Marine of Great Britain in first half of the nineteenth
    century, 145

  Merchant shipping, development of, under James I., 108

  ----, ----, foreign, end of the sixteenth century, 101

  ----, ships, ancient, 38

  ----, ----, Elizabethan, 99, 100

  ----, ----, Greek, of about 500 B.C., 38

  ----, ----, Roman, 38

  _Minerva_, first English 38-gun frigate, 129

  Museums, technical, value of, 3


  Naval battle at Lepanto, 103
  ----, ----, at Sluys, 74

  Naval battle of La Rochelle in 1372..77

  ----, ----, of L'Espagnols-sur-Mer, 77

  ----, ----, off South Foreland in 1217..70

  ----, expedition, Carthaginian, against Greek colonists, 30

  ----, expeditions of the ancient Greeks, 29

  ----, ----, Persian, against Greece, 29

  ----, expenditure under the Commonwealth, 114

  ----, guns in time of Henry VIII., 95

  ----, power of France under Louis XIV., 118

  ----, war with United States in 1812..133

  ----, wars of the Commonwealth, 112

  ----, ----, of Edward III., 74

  Navigation, early notions of, 5

  Nekau's attempt to make a Red Sea and Nile canal, 23

  ----, expedition round Africa, 24

  Noah's ark, account of, 6

  Norman ships, 65

  Norsemen, ships of, 58


  Oars, arrangement of, in galleys of many banks, 47

  ----, of Greek triremes, length of, 42

  ----, of Venetian galleys, number of rowers to, 47

  Obelisk, transport of, to Rome in 50 A.D., 39

  Obelisks, size and weight of, 21

  ----, transport of, down Nile, 21

  Ocean Herald, American clipper, 1855..150

  Olaf Tryggvesson, large ship built by, 67

  Overland route to India, closing of, in the fifteenth century, 92


  Penteconters, Greek, 35

  Persian naval expeditions against Greece, 29

  Pett, Phineas, 104, 110, 111, 114

  Phoenician galley of seventh century, 28

  Phoenicians, commerce of, 26

  ----, origin of, 26

  Poole seal, ship on, 74

  Portholes of warships in Tudor period, 95, 101

  ----, raising of lower deck at end of the eighteenth century, 131

  Portuguese, discoveries of, in the fifteenth century, 84

  _Prince Royal_, warship of James I., 104 et seq.

  Ptolemies, use of many-banked galleys by, 36

  Ptolemy Philopater's galley, criticism of account of, 45

  Punt, first recorded maritime expedition to the land of, 16

  ----, Queen Hatshepsu's expedition to the land of, 18


  _Queen_, English first-rate, time of Queen Victoria, 142

  Quinqueremes, Roman, crews of, 44

  ----, use of, by Alexander the Great, 35

  ----, use of, by Romans, 36, 44


  Raleigh's criticisms on English ships, 107

  Rams of Greek galleys, 31, 52, 53

  Ramses III., warships of, 23

  _Regent_, warship built 1490..92

  Renan, Bernard, 118

  Richard Coeur de Lion, fleet of, 67

  Richard II., ship of reign of, 80

  Rigging, improvements introduced in fourteenth century, 78

  ----, improvements in, end of the sixteenth century, 101

  Roman galleys, use of lead sheathing in, 53

  ----, ----, use of turrets in, 54

  ----, ----, used against Carthaginians, 36, 44

  ----, merchant ships, 38

  ----, naval power, origin of, 36

  ----, quinqueremes, crews of, 44

  _Royal Anne_, English first-rate of 1706..131

  _Royal Charles_, warship of Charles II., 114

  _Royal George_, particulars of, 126

  Rudders, first use of, in English ships, 74


  Sailcloth, linen, made by ancient Egyptians, 25

  Sailing-ships, excellence of American, in the middle of the nineteenth
    century, 3, 147

  Sails, early use of, in Egypt, 13

  ----, papyrus used for, by ancient Egyptians, 25

  ----, use of, in galleys, 43

  Sandefjord ship, description of, 58

  Sandwich seal, ship on, 71

  _Santa Maria_, caravel of Columbus, 88 _et seq._

  Saracen ship of the twelfth century, 68

  Saxon kings of England, fleets of, 56

  ----, ships, 56

  Seppings, Sir Robert, improvements introduced by, in naval
    construction, 135 _et seq._

  Shelf-pieces, introduction of, in shipbuilding, 139

  Ship, description of ancient Danish, 63

  ----, description of Viking, 59

  ----, Genoese, built for France, 1268..73

  ----, Greek merchant, 38

  ----, Roman merchant, 38

  ----, Italian, of fifteenth century, 79

  ----, of Columbus, 87 et seq.

  ----, of Edward III., 76

  ----, of reign of Richard II., 80

  ----, ----, of Henry VI., 83

  ----, on Dover seal, 72

  ----, on Poole seal, 74

  ----, on Sandwich seal, 71

  ----, Saracen, of the twelfth century, 68

  ----, Venetian, built for France, 1268..73

  ----, Venetian, of the twelfth century, of great size, 68

  Ships, classification of, early fifteenth century, 81

  ----, earliest mention of, in history, 11

  ----, Egyptian, used in Hatshepsu's expedition to Punt, 19

  ----, English, of the end of the fifteenth century, 85

  ----, mediæval, 65 _et seq._

  ----, Norman, 65

  ----, of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, improvements in, 79,

  ----, of the fourteenth century, crews of, 74

  ----, of the Norsemen, 58

  ----, of the Saxons, 56

  ----, of the Veneti, 55

  ----, of Vasco da Gama, 91

  ----, the most ancient known, 9

  ----, used in Trojan expedition, 31


  Shipbuilding, cost of timber for, in the nineteenth century, 155

  ----, improvements introduced by Sir Robert Seppings, 135 _et seq._

  ----, in ancient Greece, 28 _et seq._

  ----, introduction of shelf-pieces and waterways, 139

  Shipping statistics of the principal maritime powers, 1

  _Sir John Franklin_, American Transatlantic sailing-packet, 1840..148

  Sluys, battle of, 74

  _Soleil Royal_, French warship, end of the seventeenth century, 116

  _Sovereign_, English warship, time of Henry VII., 92

  _Sovereign of the Seas_, warship of Charles I., 110

  Spanish Armada, account of, 97

  Speeds attained by American clippers, 150

  ----, of galleys, 48, 50

  Square buttocks, abandonment of, in English warships, 106

  Steam navigation, introduction of, 155

  Stern castles, development of, 72, 73, 75, 79, 83, 89, 95, 102

  _Stornoway_ and _Chrysolite_, first Aberdeen clippers, 153

  Strains, hogging and sagging, on ships, 135

  Structural arrangements of ancient galleys, 51 _et seq._

  Stuart kings, fondness of for Navy, 104, 108, 114


  _Thames_, East Indiaman, of 1819, 145

  _Thetis_, West Indiaman, 146, 147

  Timber for shipbuilding, cost of, in the nineteenth century, 155

  ----, ----, superstitions of ancients regarding, 50

  ----, for warships, methods of treating in the eighteenth century, 122

  ----, used in construction of ancient galleys, 50

  Topmasts, introduction of striking, 101

  _Trade's Increase_, Jacobean merchantman, 108

  Triremes, first use of, in Greece, 29

  ----, Greek, crews of, 42

  ----, ----, dimensions of, 39

  ----, ----, length of oars of, 42

     _See also_ GALLEYS

  _Triumph_, Elizabethan warship, 98

  Trojan expedition, ships used in, 31

  "Tumble home," why introduced, 78

  Turrets, use of, in Roman galleys, 54


  Unireme, Greek, of about 500 B.C., 31.

     _See also_ GALLEYS


  Vasco da Gama, ships of, 91

  ----, voyages of, 91

  Veneti, ships of, 55

  Venetian galleasses, end of the sixteenth century, 103

  ----, galleon of the sixteenth century, 78

  ----, galley of the fourteenth century, 77

  ----, galleys, number of rowers to oars of, 47

  ----, ship, built for France, 1268, 73

  ----, twelfth century ship of great size, 68

  Venetians, first use of naval artillery by, 77

  ----, skill of, in shipbuilding, 69

  Ventilation of warships, middle of the eighteenth century, 123

  Viking ship, description of, 59

  Voyages of Vasco da Gama, 91


  Warships of Ramses III., 23

  ----, ventilation of, middle of the eighteenth century, 123


  _Waterloo_, English first-rate, time of William IV., 141, 142

  Waterways, introduction of, in shipbuilding, 139

  West Indiaman, the _Thetis_, 146



*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ancient and Modern Ships. - Part 1. Wooden Sailing Ships" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.