England's Medieval Navy 1066-1509: Ships, Men & Warfare Hardcover – 17 Oct 2013
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About the Author
SUSAN ROSE's interest in medieval maritime history was sparked by the account book of William Soper, Clerk of the King's Ship 1422-27. Subsequently, she has written a number of books including Medieval Naval Warfare, The Medieval Sea and The Wine Trade in Medieval Europe, while articles include contributions in Medieval Ships and Warfare (2008).
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Top Customer Reviews
“ .. Keep then the sea that is the wall of England, and then is England kept by God’s hand .. ”
Libel of English Policy ca.1436 (spelling modernised)
The author is an established academic who has published on various aspects of life, trade and maritime affairs in the mediaeval period, here defined as from the Danish Raids to the accession of the Tudors. She now turns her attention to the story of the navy Royal. The area involved is almost entirely the North Sea, the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay.
Throughout the period the monarch was able to call at will on ports and shipowners to provide craft and their crews for his needs, with little account taken of consequential losses to owners or the disruption of trade generally. Some of the time the monarch maintained his own ships and, these, although used for trading when not required for war, are the main focus of this study. It is clear that some kings showed more interest than others - Henry III, Edward III, Henry V, Edward IV, Henry VII for instance - others like the sublimely wet Henry VI had no personal navy at all. Most monarchs had little real sea-sense; the first sign of a deliberate maritime policy comes from the Earl of Warwick in 1455. It much depended on the strategic situation including whether the French coast was in our hands or the enemy’s. Merchantmen were pretty much left to shift for themselves in the matter of piracy and privateering. Many masters must have been cast in the mould of Chaucer’s shipman who “if he fought and got the upper hand, by water he sent them home to every land”, who may have been modelled on the John Hawley discussed in this book.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Chapter 2 looks at "strategic imperatives" such as the nearness of France, currents, and such. This might not interest all readers. Chapter 3 looks at the "navy" of England, which most of the era consisted of a few royal ships and ships the king had the power to "arrest" in port, essentially draft into service. Chapter 4 concerns "ships and ship types" and this chapter should be of general interest, Chapter 5 discusses shipbuilding and shore facilities, and is quite good. Chapter 6 looks at "the world of the medieval mariner" but I think this perhaps a weaker chapter. Chapter 7 discusses war at sea. Chapter 8 looks at "corsairs and commanders" and has an interesting discussion of how a merchant could legally become a pirate if he suffered losses and could not recover them, so "pirate" is a rather more muddled category than one might think.
Chapter 9 looks at other navies, including the French, Aragonese, and Castillian. This contrasts the waters around Britain with the Mediterranean. There's a tendency to forget how formidable Aragon once was (it didn't merge with Castile until the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella). The last chapter looks at the legacy of all this for Henry VIII.
As I said, the best part of it, for me, is that she is not merely a researcher, but also an excellent writer. This isn't a dull boring re-telling of facts, its a well written, interesting book that provides a treasure trove of useful and helpful information. I read it faster than I read many fictional works. Helpful, useful, and well written -- history doesn't get much better than that.
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