Causes of the rise of naval power?

Feb 2017
161
Latin America
To illustrate the question with the following examples: Why didn't Troy send a fleet to Achaea and burn its capital city with an Achaean Horse ruse? Where was the Anglo-Saxon Great Christian Army sent to conquer Scandinavia from the sea?
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,899
Blachernai
Pre-modern navies were obscenely expensive, required specialized skills to construct and function, needed constant upkeep, and could be lost in their entirety in a matter of minutes. Beyond the economic case against building a navy, there's social snobbery as well: ships are cramped, forcing elites to mix with their social inferiors, and there are fewer opportunities to make a run for it should things go badly.

The case has been made, perhaps by Guilmartin, that any sort of permanent, blue-water(-ish) navy requires a system of credit and something akin to a national bank. That itself requires at least a fairly centralized and perhaps even bureaucratic state which is able to direct most of its revenues to itself.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,241
Sydney
the Acheans were not one country it was a collection of independent city states
they were quite used to being raided by each others and each would be delighted if the troad broke their neighbors
as for the Anglo-Saxon naval answer to the vikings , Alfred had a fleet build with ships with a higher sides than the low drakkars
it gave the Anglo-Saxon the advantage in naval fighting
while they did not intercept many on their way in , they rushed to the anchorage where the raiding parties had left their ships
this raised the cost of raiding , sailing to Denmark was unnecessary and dangerous
 
Mar 2018
861
UK
Pre-modern navies were obscenely expensive, required specialized skills to construct and function, needed constant upkeep, and could be lost in their entirety in a matter of minutes. Beyond the economic case against building a navy, there's social snobbery as well: ships are cramped, forcing elites to mix with their social inferiors, and there are fewer opportunities to make a run for it should things go badly.

The case has been made, perhaps by Guilmartin, that any sort of permanent, blue-water(-ish) navy requires a system of credit and something akin to a national bank. That itself requires at least a fairly centralized and perhaps even bureaucratic state which is able to direct most of its revenues to itself.
That all makes sense. But how do you expect the large state sponsored navies that did exist in the Mediterranean from, say, 500BC to 1BC?

I'd add to your thesis that, when there is a sufficiently large amount of naval trade happening, the factors you mentioned are overwhelmed by the rewards obtained by protecting and controlling this trade.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,235
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Rome created great military fleets to dominate the seas after a long process which saw the "Urbe" facing real naval powers. Carthage was overall a naval power, not Rome. Rome became also a naval power to defeat Carthage and later to patrol the seas surrounding its enormous domains.

If we start from this comparison [Carthage - Rome] and we add to the equation Phoenician coastal cities, medieval Sea Republics ... and similar, we could wonder if geography plays a role in the birth of a naval power. If you are enough tough on the ground to conquer wide rich territories in the inland probably you will consider the Navy as a mean to protect the coast, not the main force to expand your domain. Early Romans preferred streets to ports and Hoplites and then Legionaries overall walked ... And in ancient times to become a naval power a city-state didn't need great extensions of land. Richness came from trades [as said] and this allowed single cities to create colonial empires [de facto] made by city and colonies all around the Mediterranean Sea [like the Sea Republic did].
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,241
Sydney
in europe the great powers like France , Germany or Russia were above all land powers
they measured their main forces in their armies
Venice , the low countries , and England couldn't compete , neither did they need to
they could fight limited defensive land wars but their main safety was in the sea
 
Jan 2013
1,067
Toronto, Canada
We got better at building ships. Most early navies were just floating troop platforms. Eventually, we realized that ships could be a form of military power unto themselves.
 
Oct 2015
932
Virginia
Navies are developed by states or peoples that have a large, wealthy, influential mercantile class dependant on sea-born trade. viz Tyre, Athens, Rhodes, Carthage, Byzantium, Venice , Genoa, Holland, Great Britain, Japan, USA et al. Navies exist to defend and extend such trade.
Sometimes a powerful, less commercial, continental state (Sparta, Macedon, Rome, Caliphate, Ottomans, Spain (?), France, Imperial Germany, Russia) can develop a Navy for strategic reasons. But Navies are expensive, and usually other competing priorities keep them from permanently challenging true commercial-maritime powers, for whom a Navy is the top priority.
 
Jun 2017
523
maine
Why didn't Troy send a fleet to Achaea and burn its capital city with an Achaean Horse ruse?
I'm not sure that there was such a thing as a Trojan navy; Troy was several miles inland. The Greek fleet--which seems to have consisted of biremes (which were intended to fight other ships) seems to have been used for transport. In any case, there was no Achaea--that is, no single state. The Greek army consisted of many different individual states which explains why there was more than one king.
Where was the Anglo-Saxon Great Christian Army sent to conquer Scandinavia from the sea?
At the time of the Great Heathen Army, there were four different Anglo-Saxon kingdoms (none of which had a navy). The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does detail the construction of war ships under Alfred the Great some 30 years later. Alfred's ships were active against the Danes off the English coast. His ships were effective but I can't recall reading that they ventured against Scandinavia itself.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,683
Florania
Pre-modern navies were obscenely expensive, required specialized skills to construct and function, needed constant upkeep, and could be lost in their entirety in a matter of minutes. Beyond the economic case against building a navy, there's social snobbery as well: ships are cramped, forcing elites to mix with their social inferiors, and there are fewer opportunities to make a run for it should things go badly.

The case has been made, perhaps by Guilmartin, that any sort of permanent, blue-water(-ish) navy requires a system of credit and something akin to a national bank. That itself requires at least a fairly centralized and perhaps even bureaucratic state which is able to direct most of its revenues to itself.
Even the ancients understood that metallic ships float; the matter was the power to drive them.
Neither wind nor oars could push metallic ships.