English Piracy in the Fifteenth Century

In 1374 Edward III ordered special measures to be taken for the defence of the strategically important port of Dartmouth against attack from the sea, but it wasn’t until 1388 in the reign of Richard II that John Hawley [John Hawley III of Dartmouth father], who was mayor again by this time, ordered the burgesses […]

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Navigation and Ships in China

This picture of a medieval Chinese war junk distorts many of the key features to give a dramatic effect, but it does illustrate the multiple decks, the highly responsive rigging and steering systems, including a stern rudder controlled by a tiller and a lateral auxiliary steering oar. It was the increasing number of guns on […]

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Navy of Venice

The Venetian Arsenal was the biggest and more efficient shipyard of the Renaissance, and the reason why Venice was capable of standing up to the Turks for three hundred years and seven wars. San Lorenzo (?) galleasse in an illustration by eslovac artist Avor. It is based in a Venetian engraving. It is probably the […]

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Pirates

Occasionally upon election of a new captain, men who favored other leadership drew up new articles and sailed away from their former mates. The social organization constructed by pirates, although flexible, was unable to accommodate severe, sustained conflict. Those who had experienced the claustrophobic and authoritarian world of the merchant ship cherished the freedom to […]

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Pirates Attack A Mughal Convoy 1695

Henry Every Every Chasing the Great Mughal Ship – The Sea (1887) Seeing great potential in the Indian fleet, Henry Every and five other pirate captains conspire to attack the convoy heading to Mocha and loot the treasure ship Ganj-i-Sawai. One by one, they pick off parts of the Indian fleet with ease until they […]

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The Evolution of the Roman Imperial Fleets

  D. B. Saddington Introduction Like the ancient Israelis, who felt concern for those “who went down to the sea in ships” (Ps 107.23), the Romans, especially by comparison with the Greeks, have often been regarded as reluctant seafarers. Before the Battle of Actium Plutarch (Ant. 64) has a centurion adjure Antony, as Shakespeare puts […]

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WARFARE AT SEA – CHINA

SOUTH-EAST ASIAN EXPLORATION Ming Chinas brief flirtation with overseas expansion provides unequivocal evidence of the remarkable competence of Chinese shipwrights, navigators and sailors. Chinese mariners had long traded in the same waters without official sanction, but seafarers ranked low in the Confucian social hierarchy and received little attention from court historians and chroniclers. The inset […]

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Mutiny on the Lennie

Yorke, William Horde; The ‘Clipper Lennie’ of Liverpool in Full Sail That such petty felonies seem to have been the motive, or perhaps only a pretext, for mutiny owes much to the degeneracy of many seamen in sailing vessels during the nineteenth century. With the exception of diehards who sailed in the elite tea clippers, […]

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Piracy in the Indian Ocean

Historians have been particularly interested in the fact that on two occasions during our period great empires provided security and a market for luxuries in different parts of the Indian Ocean world. The huge trade between China and the Abbasid empire has been linked to the rise and florescence of the Abbasid state after 750, […]

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Rakish Sloops and Ships with Teeth

Pirates often sailed vessels other than ships. For example, the dugout canoe was one of the most common of pirate vessels. In the late seventeenth century, buccaneers and filibusters used them for raids up rivers on the Spanish Main, towed them astern or carried them aboard their larger vessels, and often began their piratical careers […]

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