SIXTH RATE FRIGATE ‘Churprinz von Brandenburg’ (1675)


The difficult natural conditions the budding Brandenburg was facing: shallow lagoon, silting-up river mouth, shifting coastal sand bars and the likes (this was one of the reasons, why the later Imperial Navy moved its main port to the deep-water fjord at Kiel). It is important to remember that the centre of gravity of Brandenburg/Prussia in the 17th century was much farther eastward (in what is now Polish) than in the 19th century.

The sturdy, shallow draft Dutch ships would have been more suitable to the conditions around the southern Baltic coast, even though there we don’t have hardly any tide and there is no need/possibility for beaching of smaller vessels, than English models. 17th century Dutch shipbuilding was cutting edge technology (remember Tsar Peter went to Zaandam for an exercise in technology transfer!).

While similar environmental conditions/constraints often result in similar technical solutions or designs, it quite dangerous to extrapolate later forms back into the past. There are so many cultural interchanges and possibly other factors we don’t know of that it difficult to draw conclusions about the past from the (distant) present. For different reasons flat-bottomed keel-less vessels have often co-existed with V-bottomed vessels built on keel. It is by chance that we sometimes have historical evidence of one, but not the other.

As had been already pointed out by Wolfgang Rudolph in his books on boats from the southern Baltic coast, it is also difficult to draw conclusions from denominations on designs. The same name at the same place can, over the course of centuries, denominate quite different types of vessels.

I would comment the following books as follows (all books are in German, except where mentioned otherwise):

  1. Hans Szymanski, Brandenburg-Preussen zur See, Koehler und Amelang Verlag, Leipzig, 1939 — Very rare german book about this special theme. A lot of information about the old German marine, exactly this epoch. But it is also printed in ‘Fraktur’ (the kind of lettering you find in old Nazi propaganda stuff…), which makes it hard to read, even for a German. It includes mostly data about ships, types, journeys, and so on. Invaluable for doing some research in that area, but it also has to be taken with a grain of salt, because it is so old and at that time, not all information were at hand, as they are nowadays. – There are voices which say, that one should not take it all too serious, but it is the best you may find for now.

No drawings. No plans. Some very few images.


  1. Heinrich Winter, Der holländische Zweidecker von 1660/70, Delius Klasing Verlag, Reprint from 1985, Bielefeld — This book appeared much sooner (1967) in the GDR. The book is about one of the last large shipmodels that have been made at that time (at around 1660). This particular model is also known as the “Hohenzollernmodel”, since it has been owned by the Churfürst of the Mark Brandenburg and later Kings of Prussia. It stood in the Stadtschloss (City-Castle) in Berlin and was burnt by an allied Firebomb short before the end of WWII (only months before).

But before it was destroyed, Heinrich Winter was able to make an extraordinary photo session and could measure up the whole shipmodel.

The result is this book. It shows a ship that has never been built, but it shows in an excellent way, how the shipwrights from the Netherlands constructed their ships. – Since this is almost identical with the German way, this is in my opinion a true ‘must have’ if you are interested in German marine history. – This model has been in the castle of the Kings of Prussia all time long. And even before, their ancestors had it… – The ship, the rulers of northern Germany had in front of them, inspired them, made them dream… – The book is great, it even has some very nice plans included and can be picked up for a rather low price. – Building this model is a reward in itself! – But beware: Mister Winter had not the time to finish his work with the model. – Some parts of the rigging are missing (not on the photographs, not included in the plans), so one has to reconstruct it…


  1. Herman Ketting, Prins Willem, Delius Klasing Verlag, Bielefeld, 1981 — This book is about one of the largest ships of the Netherlands V.O.C (East India Company) from 1651. Since East-Indiamen were built quite similar to other ships of war at that time, this book is also a great help for a deeper look behind the scenes. It is well written, contains many images and even a set of plans. Even though the reconstruction has some mistakes (the ship wasn’t as huge as claimed in the book), the rest of the book is brilliant! – Very much bang for the buck!


  1. Ab Hoving and Cor Emke, ‘Die Schiffe Abel Tasmans’ (The ships of Abel Tasman), Uitgeverij Verloren, Hilversum, NL — This book is available as well in German, Netherlands and English! – Best is, you order it directly from the Uitgeverij: Uitgeverij Verloren.

It is an absolutely brilliant reconstruction of two ships of 1642. One Fleute (Fluit ?) and one small frigate. This is an up to date, modern book, with lots of images on CD (in colour on CD, B/W in the book) and even some very good plans for both ships! – The plans are also on CD, so you can reprint them at any time. The Fluit is one of the most commonly used type of trading ship of that time. And the little frigate (‘Heemskerck’) is exactly the type of ship which the Mark Brandenburg used mainly. This book gets my biggest recommendation, because it is well written, shows some excellent reconstructions and even has ‘multimedia’ add-ons. In my eyes, you can go and build a model, that is based on the lines of the Heemskerck and with some slight modifications you can claim it to be one of the early German frigates. – They way they were built should be very close! – Or, for example, the German Frigate ‘Berlin’, which was built in Zeeland (Netherlands), could also be your target, this way…

“Kurbrandenburgische Marine”

Fregatte ”Friedrich Wilhelm zu Pferde” (50 Kanonen)

Fregatte ”Dorothea” (40 Kanonen)

Fregatte ”Rother Löwe” (20 Kanonen)

Fregatte ”Carolus Secundus” (50 Kanonen)

Fregatte ”Kurprinz von Brandenburg”

Fregatte ”Chur Prinz” (36 Kanonen)

Fregatte ”Morian”

Fregatte ”Wappen von Brandenburg”

Yacht ”Bracke”

Yacht ”Große Jacht”


Fregatte Berlin (15 Kanonen)

”Fuchs” (20 Kanonen)

”Einhorn” (12 Kanonen)

”Printz Ludwig” (10 Kanonen)

”Falke” (4 Kanonen)

”Jean Baptista” (4 Kanonen)

”Marie” (4 Kanonen)

”Spandau” (4 Kanonen)

”Stern” (6 Kanonen)

”Princesse Maria” (12 Kanonen)

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