Warships in the 1500-1700's....

Discussion in '1800-1914' started by Lucky13, May 12, 2014.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    How did they compare between navies, build quality etc., etc.? Floating about on the old Internet, finding that the Swedish navy had (to me) a surprising number of 100+, later 90+ gun ships, battleships or ships of the line or what you'd like to call them....

    Konung Karl: 108 guns, later 96..
    Makalös or Mars: 107 some sources say even 173 guns!
    Kronan: 126, but got 105 guns..

    Just to mention a few....

    Some had interesting names like, The Black Knight, The Red Dragon, The Hunter....

    In case you wonder, sInce this subforum only goes back to 1800, I thought.....well, close enough! :lol:
     
  2. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    I read about the Spanish Armada once, it seemed that neither navy was very good. I dont think either side sank an opponent with cannons. To be fair to the Spanish their tactic was to board an opponent swashbuckling pirate style. Most of the Armada that was lost trying to sail around Scotland/Irland foundered in bad weather or the ships broke, apart being designed to sail around the Med.
     
  3. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    dutch ships in the17th century were rather good. Especially the east-india traders were well build ships. Also I believe the Dutch were the first to somewhat mass produce ships after the invention of the windmill saw. It lead to our dominance on the world market in those times.
    Dutch warships seemed to be rather efficient compared to contemporaries (maybe with the exception of British ships?).
    Spanish ships never were really good. Too much pomp and circumstances and not enough practicallity.
     
  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The English Navy became the Royal Navy in 1660 on the restoration of the monarchy, following our brief flirtation with a Commonwealth, with eight first rate vessels. Any first rate ship of the line had a crew of 400 (giving it the rating) and typically 90-100 guns.
    The largest Elizabethan vessels in the English Navy were galleons armed with a bewildering array of different cannon and anywhere from about 20 up to about 50 of them.

    I don't know how efficient those restoration ships were as the Dutch consistently kicked their arses :) There is a fine example of a carved English transom from one such ship in the Rijks museum in Amsterdam.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  5. herman1rg

    herman1rg Well-Known Member

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    Vasa (or Wasa) is a Swedish warship built 1626-1628. The ship foundered and sank after sailing about 1,300 meters (1,400 yd) into her maiden voyage on 10 August 1628. She fell into obscurity after most of her valuable bronze cannons were salvaged in the 17th century
     
  6. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    The Ship - The Vasa Museum

    Obscurity comes in many forms...
     
  7. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    During the Napoleonic wars the Dutch were greatly respected by the Royal Navy, but then I suspect the Dutch hadnt killed all their sailors as the Revolutionaries in France and Spain had. After the battle of Camperdown the British Admiral Duncan refused to accept Admiral De Winters sword in Surrender and shook his hand instead. The French/Spanish fleet was manned by mainly non sailors and so the only thing they could do was sail in a line exactly what Nelson wanted.

    I dont know about mass producing ships but in England they were moving towards the same, the Portsmouth Block mill was the first ever example of a mass production line. It was needed because the Royal navy more that 100,000 blocks per year!
     
  8. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    Those old ships fascinate me.
    Thank you very much for sharing, Gents!
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The Dutch and English states (and for the most part citizens/subjects) shared a common protestant religion and antipathy to the Catholic powers of Europe. Commerce and trade was more important to both nations as they built their Empires, but many felt that it shouldn't be.

    Never underestimate the influence of religion in European politics from the reformation until the 20th century :)

    The Dutch had earlier fought long and hard against Catholic Spain and though the occupying French Army at the time of Camperdown was nominally atheist, in the best revolutionary tradition, in reality it was not.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  10. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Maybe, but more likely the Dutch were great sailors and used the same tactic of firing into the hull at close quarters, most other navies fired into the rigging as a prelude to boarding. De Winter was a revolutionary he fought on land with the French army.
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Given de Winter's history he may have been a catholic :)
    Steve
     
  12. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    In answer to the original post the Dutch ships captured at Camperdown were not suitable for the Royal navy, they were a shallow draft for use close to land, no use in the open Ocean.
     
  13. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I admit my knowledge of 16th and 17th century ships is at best sketchy but late 18th and early 19th century is reasonable. Generally speaking the French ships were considered to be the best designed and the British ships the best equipped re weapons and with better training. The best possible appointment in the RN was to command a captured French ship as they were the best of both worlds.
    Spanish ships were better than most people think the biggest problem they had was that the number of guns was considered to be the most important criteria but a high proportion of the guns on Spanish Ships were often 8pd guns. Those that had 'normal' 32, 24 and 12 pd guns tended to be too heavy.

    The most important factor at that time was the training. French and Spanish ships were normally captained by people who had 'influence'. While far from perfect officers in the RN had to pass serious exams before they were promoted. Influence played a part in the ships they commanded but they had to pass the exams first. There was one RN vessel at Trafalger, the name of which I cannot remember which was captained by a man who started out as a seaman.
     
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  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Nelson joined his first ship (commanded by his uncle) as an ordinary seaman.

    This was not at all unusual. Many English naval officers were of 'the middling sort', sons of professionals or clergymen, even 'trade'. They were often not of the aristocracy.

    Steve
     
  15. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    The Franco Spanish fleet at Trafalgar was manned by in general by people who hadnt sailed. Prior to Trafalgar the Franco Spanish fleet sailed to the Caribbean and back and suffered terribly with dysantry and other ailments. Prior to Trafalgar nelson hadnt set foot on land for two years with no problems at all. The Royal navy set high store my fighting qualities and seamanship, in most battles the difference was tactics. Cannon seem impressive but wernt very destructive, the RN in later years sought to cross the bow of the enemy and rake it at point blank range making the cannon balls bounce down the gun decks. The RN was actually a business, the price of ships catured and bounty taken was split among the fleet from admirals down to the ratings, Nelson made a fortune (didnt get much from Trafalgar though)
     
  16. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I have to disagree with the first part of this. Cannon were very effective and all sides recognised that crossing the T was the ideal tactic. What mattered was the speed with which the guns could be served, the discipline to wait for the last moment before firing and the accuracy. These were the elements where the RN were exceptional.
    Other differences were the way the RN guns were rigged gave them a larger angle of fire and this in turn increased the volume of fire a ship could produce. The RN led the way in the use of carronades from the mighty 68pd on some capital ships which could fire a keg of 500 musket balls, let alone the solid shot, to the 18pd versions fitted on small brigs. Other technical advantages was the use of copper sheathing on the hulls of the RN vessels which kept them largely clear of fouling and of course gave them a speed advantage.

    The list is significant
     
  17. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Crossing the "T" was theoretical and more applicable to dreadnoughts than galleons. At Trafalgar the RN sailed straight into the Franco Spanish line same at Camperdown (in principle) which is making a "T". As you say the rate of fire through training and equipment was higher in the RN but although the RN fleet at Trafalgar were damaged on the approach when they passed through the Franco/Spanish fleet they did massive damage.
     
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