Operating costs - Galley vs. Caravel

Tulius

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May 2016
6,764
Portugal
Were those slaves working as riggers/pilots/helmsmen/carpenters/etc? I've never heard of slave labour used to crew ships other than galley rowers (this is discounting menial jobs like officers servants or cook's helpers). Not saying it wasn't possible though...
I think that the vision of slavery in the USA plantations (and all over America) is quite strong. But if we look to other slaveries that wouldn’t be so surprising. We had soldier slaves in the Muslim world, we had slaves that climbed almost to the top in the Roman society.

Anyway, regarding to your question I am tempted to say quickly yes, only by memory. What else could the slave do on board, besides being sailors. And there were slaves in many ships. Pilots? Maybe not, or at least rarely, that was the second most important job on-board, after the captain. But the ships had few persons on-board, and if there were slaves why should the others work while the slaves were without doing nothing. So riggers, carpenters, caulks (?) would be possible. I recall soldiers (or at least men that fought side by side with their masters), and “Portuguese” ships that only had one or two Portuguese on board (the captain and eventually pilot), being the rest slaves or proxies. But I will not say yes, without checking the sources again – only if I was sure of where did I read it!

One of the first that comes to my mind is the slave of Magalhães:

Enrique of Malacca - Wikipedia

I made a quick search on the “História trágico-marítima” (Tragic History of the Sea: História trágico-marítima - Wikipedia / avaiable online Internet Archive Search: creator:"Brito, Bernardo Gomes de, 1688-1760?"), in a “light edition” that I have, and saw about the São Paulo, a nao that sunk near Sumatra in 1560 (the translation is mine), it is not the best example:

“It happened several times the master called and only one sailor came and two cabin boys, of more than one hundred sailors on board [they were ill and starving]. For that we had to appeal to the passengers, to work on the quarters [1/4 of the day]. Some were on the watchman others in the helm. Five Portuguese died then and four slaves.”

Other situation after the sea wreck of the galleon São João, in 1552, returning full of pepper to Portugal, after the departure from India. The survivors reached shore, somewhere in South Africa:

“they departed 7 July (1552). In the vanguard it went Manuel de Sousa with eighty Portuguese and slaves, with André Vaz, the pilot, with the flag and the cross, and Dona Leonor in a bed frame carried by some slaves; at the centre, the sea master of the galleon with the seamen and the slave women; on the rear Pantaleão de Sá with the rest of the Portuguese and the slaves, probably some 200 people. At all they should be some 500.”

Even when many of the party became prisoners of the locals (called Cafres, the origin of the Boer term Kaffir) many slaves (don’t know if all) stood with the Portuguese. The slave women cried when Dona Leonor died.

“from all the party [of the galleon São João] only could be saved 8 Portuguese, 14 slaves and 4 slave women…” (a ship commanded by Diogo de Mesquita, trading Ivory saw them and bought them to the Cafres and returned to Mozambique in 1553).

Albeit those are far from the examples I was thinking initially, they were quickly grabbed and give an idea of the quantity of slaves that were on-board. Let us recall that the slaves could be from any provenience of the empire, from America, to Africa, to Asia.

Edited: Typo corrected.
 
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May 2019
429
Earth
What else could the slave do on board, besides being sailors.
Officer's servants, human cargo, cook's helpers, livestock attendants... plenty of jobs on a large sailing ship of the day which didn't require training as a mariner, and could free up the professional sailors for more technical jobs while the slaves were doing the mundane chores.

You've posted some interesting quotations about slaves being carried on ships but, if you'll pardon my inquisitiveness, I don't see any specific reference in your quotes to the slaves being sailors in the technical sense, with the possible exception of your first quotation which was an emergency situation. I'd be curious to know whether the examples you posted were actual mariners, or just slaves performing auxiliary/unskilled chores aboard like the ones I mentioned.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,764
Portugal
Officers servants, human cargo, cook's helpers, livestock attendants... plenty of jobs on a large sailing ship of the day which didn't require training as a mariner, and could free up the professional sailors for more technical jobs while the slaves were doing the mundane chores.
Human cargo, no, not in these ships trading pepper and more valuable merchandise, not in these numbers (see the ratios), not in these waters, not for this timeline.

As for the other jobs that you are mentioning, yes they could do that, and they would almost certainly do that, but at this time is was rare to do “only” that, only with that they would have immense free time, while others, non-slaves, would be working. See the last case that I mentioned, the São João, and the number of slaves there. If those slaves were on the ship, and were not cargo, they would be working.

Portugal had a low population at the time, so basically it had to use all the available manpower, including foreigners (Italians...), and including slaves.

You've posted some interesting quotations about slaves being carried on ships but, if you'll pardon my inquisitiveness, I don't see any specific reference in your quotes to the slaves being sailors in the technical sense, with the possible exception of your first quotation which was an emergency situation. I'd be curious to know whether the examples you posted were actual mariners, or just slaves performing auxiliary/unskilled chores aboard like the ones I mentioned.
You are correct. They aren’t the best examples, just the ones that I quickly found. The sources are huge and I don’t recall them all. I also found the last passage interesting, and it is a good picture that in Africa the slaves stayed with the Portuguese, fought with them and in the end were also ransomed with them. As for jobs, they were not necessarily (all) skilled sailors, and the higher jobs would be done by Portuguese, but they could do the jobs that were later were designated by “cabin boy”, or “jack of all trades”. Even if I also recall a slave as a carpenter. And with time they surely would become seasoned sailors.

Note that I am not here making a thesis that the slaves were well treated or seen as equals. They weren’t. They got the worse sleeping conditions, worse food and we have cases that with lack of water and food, they were the first ones to be sent to the sea. But we also have cases that they fought side by side with the Portuguese (the case of the defence of Macau in 1622 against the Dutch came now to my mind: Battle of Macau - Wikipedia). So if they fought, “side by side”, why not sail side by side? Again, this side by side is a way of speech: they were not seen as equals.

I also remember a case (that I was trying to find) that the chronicler gives us a name of a character (a Portuguese name), tells us the story, and just in the middle of the story he makes the reference that the characters is the slave of a certain Portuguese. The slaves had all Portuguese names since they were baptized (see the case of Magalhães’ slave Henrique de Malaca), but the way the chronicler tells the story seems to imply that the tasks made by that character were seen as normal, so normal that he only mentioned that he was a slave when that information became relevant to the narrative.

Naturally, until I find the appropriate quote, you will have to take my post by its facial value: the post from a guy in the net. But I hope that you will be at least receptive to this approach. My problem now is that the sources are huge, and even if I have many at home, and many are available online, I am really not sure where I read it! As far as I know there is not a study done about this subject that can aggregate this in a seminal work. Good theme for a doctoral thesis.

***

EDIT:

I will post here a link for a paper referring later timelines (18th and 19th centuries, meaning end of the Slavery) but that give us the idea of the continuity of the slaves being aboard. It was a trend in the Portuguese empire. And we only don’t know more about that trend because often the slaves aren’t relevant for the chronicler to be mentioned.

I will post here part of the abstract that is in English (for the rest of the work you will have to use a translator:

“…It ends with an analysis of the prospects of freedom for the enslaved sailors in transit within the Portuguese colonies between the second half of the eighteenth century and the first decades of the nineteenth century.”

http://www.scielo.br/pdf/alm/n5/2236-4633-alm-05-00145.pdf (in Portuguese).

The article has interesting passages, I will translate this one, on a slave ship, with slave cargo:

“Physical fights involving sailors were always common, both among them and when they were anchored and involved with the people of the land. But those involving sailors, slaves and free, the first were left at a disadvantage, they could sometimes take on other proportions and have other outcomes. We do not know the reason why there was “a rising by the black sailors and more slaves of the crew against the crew's foreman and a white sailor, the only ones who were on board” of the Feliz Eugênia galley in Benguela on April 15, 1812. Attacked, wounded and tied, the white sailors could not prevent their black and slave colleagues from escaping in a boat, taking "several new blacks and black owmen" with them to a beach north of the city. " pp. 154-5.

Note that there were only two Portuguese, non-slaves, on board.

I really found this article now, and albeit not for our timeline, it is full of interesting stories, even if not all from slave-sailors.

And I have to post other:

"Masters who did not come on board and did not share of this culture of violence, especially when it turned against a their own, they could retaliate against the free sailors who practiced it: it was what the judge Manoel Moreira de Azevedo did, when he invaded the Warehouse of the Lazareto of the new Africans in Rio de Janeiro in 1816 to beat a sailor who had slapped his slave during the crossing of the Atlantic. The story was told by the Health Ombudsman and although the narrative is confusing, let it be seen that the slapped slave was dodgy and was a sailor hired by his master, because, even drunk at the time, the man was able to remember the clash and “he went to tell his Master what happened with the details that seemed to fit better”. p.155.

Sorry for changing the timeline! Found the article utterly interesting and decided to share it.
 
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May 2019
429
Earth
Coming back to the original topic of the thread, I found a bit of info which answers my question in post #8 about whether the Venetians used caravels as merchant ships during this period:

"By the end of the fifteenth century, and probably much earlier, caravels were common in Venice and its dependencies, including Crete. They were a strong element of the Dalmatian merchant fleet too ... The two Venetian ship lists of August 1499, detailing mobilized merchant vessels, mention 28 caravels detained in Venice (of which 16 Dalmatian ones), 2 at Modon, 6 in Crete, and 6 others already in the fleet. Their tonnages ranged between 30 and 150 tons, the majority rating around 100 tons. For comparison, Italian, Catalan and Andalusian caravels recorded entering Barcelona between 1496 and 1516 ranged from 150 tonélis to just over 200."
source: 'The Portuguese Caravel and European Shipbuilding: Phases of Development and Diversity' by Martin Malcolm Elbl (1985), pg. 564.

Seems that even before the monopoly of the spice galleys was broken, Venice was already seeing the utility of caravels as merchantmen.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,799
As boarding became less of the point for warships galleys became less important and oared ships were always less efficient as merchants. Roman trade ships were almost always a sailing vessel with a cargo capacity of 150 tons though there is evidence of ships that had a capacity over 500 tons already in 100 BCE with the largest ships sailing in 100 CE- the majority of wrecks seem to indicate 100-180 tons was the most common.

Corbita That is a reconstruction of a small trade ship with cargo capacity of less than 80 tons.

The most fabled large sailing vessel of Roman era was the Syracusia with the described cargo capacity of 1,800 tons likely an exaggeration but considering there have a couple wrecks found with capacity estimated above 500 tons and quite a few mentions of larger vessels that something over 1,200 tons seems plausible.

The main reason galleys stuck around so long other than simply they were faster for awhile until better sails were developed was the lack of deep harbors and how many ships needed to sail up to the shore and required shallow draft. Most sailed boats require deeper hull or a keel so they don't get dragged over by the sail.
 

HackneyedScribe

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Feb 2011
6,619
Roman ships generally were less than 75 tons:

The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean
By David Abulafia
The period from the establishment of Delos as a free port (168-167 BC) to the second century AD saw a boom in maritime traffic. As has been seen, the problem of piracy diminished very significantly after 69 BC: journeys became safer. Interestingly, most of the largest ships (250 tons upwards) date from the second and first centuries BC, while the majority of vessels in all periods displaced less than 75 tons. Larger ships, carrying armed guards, were better able to defend themselves against pirates, even if they lacked the speed of the smaller vessels. As piracy declined, smaller ships became more popular. These small ships would have been able to carry about 1,500 amphorae at most, while the larger ships could carry 6,000 or more, and were not seriously rivalled in size until the late Middle Ages. The sheer uniformity of cargoes conveys a sense of the regular rhythms of trade: about half the ships carried a single type of cargo, whether wine, oil or grain. Bulk goods were moving in ever larger quantities across the Mediterranean. Coastal areas with access to ports could specialize in particular products for which their soil was well suited, leaving the regular supply of essential foodstuffs to visiting merchants. Their safety was guaranteed by the pax romana, the Roman peace that followed the suppression of piracy and the extension of Roman rule across the Mediterranean.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,799
Roman ships generally were less than 75 tons:

The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean
By David Abulafia
The period from the establishment of Delos as a free port (168-167 BC) to the second century AD saw a boom in maritime traffic. As has been seen, the problem of piracy diminished very significantly after 69 BC: journeys became safer. Interestingly, most of the largest ships (250 tons upwards) date from the second and first centuries BC, while the majority of vessels in all periods displaced less than 75 tons. Larger ships, carrying armed guards, were better able to defend themselves against pirates, even if they lacked the speed of the smaller vessels. As piracy declined, smaller ships became more popular. These small ships would have been able to carry about 1,500 amphorae at most, while the larger ships could carry 6,000 or more, and were not seriously rivalled in size until the late Middle Ages. The sheer uniformity of cargoes conveys a sense of the regular rhythms of trade: about half the ships carried a single type of cargo, whether wine, oil or grain. Bulk goods were moving in ever larger quantities across the Mediterranean. Coastal areas with access to ports could specialize in particular products for which their soil was well suited, leaving the regular supply of essential foodstuffs to visiting merchants. Their safety was guaranteed by the pax romana, the Roman peace that followed the suppression of piracy and the extension of Roman rule across the Mediterranean.
If measuring all ships that is correct. Addressing only merchant sailing vessels then the size becomes a bit larger. The date for the average largest ships is explained as military and piracy needs led to ships earlier tending to be on average larger to escape/defend themselves especially concerning oared vessels. As larger sailed merchant ships become common in the Pax Romana their size increased as more harbours were dredged and docks built that could accommodate the larger sizes.
 

HackneyedScribe

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Feb 2011
6,619
I think the author had merchant ships in mind when he said most Roman ships were smaller than 75 tons, otherwise I don't know why he's talking about such smaller ships carrying 1500 amphorae at most and moving on to talking about carrying different types of cargo. And he's saying that the Pax Romana (with the resulting decrease in piracy) made large ships fewer in proportion rather than more common. However, he did say that grain ships in 200 AD had an average displacement of 340-400 tons.

Here's another source (Developments in Mediterranean Shipping):
We must keep in mind that ships of less than 75 tons were common throughout the Roman period, as they were before and afterwards. Houston points out that the great majority of merchant shipping at any period before the mid-twentieth century was made up of small ships - of less than 100 tons each - and this will have been true for the Roman period too.


From Ports in Perspective: Some Comparative Materials on Roman Merchant Ships:

The first item is a decree of the Emperor Claudius. In the 40s A.C., Claudius granted certain civil rights to men or women who built ships of at least 10,000 modii and used them to transport grain for six years (Gai. Inst. 32c; Suet. Claud. 18-19). Casson argued that the terms of this decree suggest that "a 70-tonner was the smallest-sized carrier the government considered useful." While we may readily agree that the decree indicates that 70-ton ships and larger were considered desirable, two further points need to be made. First, the decree clearly implies that, in Claudius's day, there were many ships in the grain fleet which were not as large as 70 tons; and this is the grain fleet, ships carrying a single product over a long-distance route, rather than the general merchant fleet, which must have included many coasters like those discussed above. Second, the decree contains not one, but two, conditions: not just the size of the ship, but the length of service in the annona (six years are specified) is of concern. This helps clarify the purpose and background of the decree. It is presumably designed at least in part for administrative convenience, for it will be much easier to deal with a small number of ships, each committed to a long period of service, than with many ships each making only one or a few voyages. And this implies that, at least down to the time of Claudius, a significant percentage of Rome's grain was in fact being transported by a large number of presumably smaller vessels, each spending fewer than six years in the service of the annona.
Our second item indicates that, however much the Roman government may have wanted only large ships in the grain fleet, it found it difficult to achieve that goal. Over a century after Claudius, exemptions from liturgies were offered to those who built and placed in the service of the annona either one ship of 50,000 modii (=350 tons) or several (perhaps five) of 10,000 modii (=70 tons each). While the decree clearly shows that large ships of 350 tons were in use, it also implies that there were still many ships of less than 100 tons in the grain fleet, and that despite Claudius' earlier concessions there continued to be a shortage of ships even as large as 70 tons. Left to their own devices, merchants and ship-builders seem to have preferred to construct ships of less than 70 tons burden, and/or to have used their ships to carry freight as opportunity arose rather than commit them to a long-term service.
Finally, we may note three further items which, taken together, imply the existence of large numbers of smaller ships. First, a series of passages in the works of Hero of Alexandria: in his Stereometrica, Hero gives the formulas for calculating the capacity (in amphorae and modii) of merchant vessels of various sizes. The ships he deals with are relatively small. The three he gives as examples have capacities according to his calculations, of 7,680 modii (=about 58 tons), 12,600 modii (=about 95 tons), and 19,200 modii (=about 144 tons). In other passages, he mentions ships with lengths of only 24 and 60 ft, and nowhere does he mention a merchant vessel with a capacity of more than 144 tons.............
Second, the famous lex Claudia of 218 B.C., prohibited senators and sons of senators from owning ships with a capacity of more than 300 amphorae (=15 tons). This law implies that ships in use at that time were often of low tonnage, certainly below 100 tons, for if ships were regularly over 100 tons burden, the same result could have been achieved by setting the limit at(for example) 50 tons. Third and last, a passage in Cicero seems to imply that a ship of 2,000 amphorae (=100 tons) was considered large; vessels of this size are cited by the writer (Lentulus) in a passage where it is in his interest to imphasize the impressive nature of his enemy Dolabella's preparations.............
There is at present very little evidence to suppor tthe view that ships of 500 tons burden or more were anything but extraordinary, and much of both our comparative and ancient material suggests that small ships-ships of, day, 60 tons burden and less, comprised the vast majority of Roman merchant vessels.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,799
I think the author had merchant ships in mind when he said most Roman ships were smaller than 75 tons, otherwise I don't know why he's talking about such smaller ships carrying 1500 amphorae at most and moving on to talking about carrying different types of cargo. And he's saying that the Pax Romana (with the resulting decrease in piracy) made large ships fewer in proportion rather than more common. However, he did say that grain ships in 200 AD had an average displacement of 340-400 tons.

Here's another source (Developments in Mediterranean Shipping):
We must keep in mind that ships of less than 75 tons were common throughout the Roman period, as they were before and afterwards. Houston points out that the great majority of merchant shipping at any period before the mid-twentieth century was made up of small ships - of less than 100 tons each - and this will have been true for the Roman period too.


From Ports in Perspective: Some Comparative Materials on Roman Merchant Ships:

The first item is a decree of the Emperor Claudius. In the 40s A.C., Claudius granted certain civil rights to men or women who built ships of at least 10,000 modii and used them to transport grain for six years (Gai. Inst. 32c; Suet. Claud. 18-19). Casson argued that the terms of this decree suggest that "a 70-tonner was the smallest-sized carrier the government considered useful." While we may readily agree that the decree indicates that 70-ton ships and larger were considered desirable, two further points need to be made. First, the decree clearly implies that, in Claudius's day, there were many ships in the grain fleet which were not as large as 70 tons; and this is the grain fleet, ships carrying a single product over a long-distance route, rather than the general merchant fleet, which must have included many coasters like those discussed above. Second, the decree contains not one, but two, conditions: not just the size of the ship, but the length of service in the annona (six years are specified) is of concern. This helps clarify the purpose and background of the decree. It is presumably designed at least in part for administrative convenience, for it will be much easier to deal with a small number of ships, each committed to a long period of service, than with many ships each making only one or a few voyages. And this implies that, at least down to the time of Claudius, a significant percentage of Rome's grain was in fact being transported by a large number of presumably smaller vessels, each spending fewer than six years in the service of the annona.
Our second item indicates that, however much the Roman government may have wanted only large ships in the grain fleet, it found it difficult to achieve that goal. Over a century after Claudius, exemptions from liturgies were offered to those who built and placed in the service of the annona either one ship of 50,000 modii (=350 tons) or several (perhaps five) of 10,000 modii (=70 tons each). While the decree clearly shows that large ships of 350 tons were in use, it also implies that there were still many ships of less than 100 tons in the grain fleet, and that despite Claudius' earlier concessions there continued to be a shortage of ships even as large as 70 tons. Left to their own devices, merchants and ship-builders seem to have preferred to construct ships of less than 70 tons burden, and/or to have used their ships to carry freight as opportunity arose rather than commit them to a long-term service.
Finally, we may note three further items which, taken together, imply the existence of large numbers of smaller ships. First, a series of passages in the works of Hero of Alexandria: in his Stereometrica, Hero gives the formulas for calculating the capacity (in amphorae and modii) of merchant vessels of various sizes. The ships he deals with are relatively small. The three he gives as examples have capacities according to his calculations, of 7,680 modii (=about 58 tons), 12,600 modii (=about 95 tons), and 19,200 modii (=about 144 tons). In other passages, he mentions ships with lengths of only 24 and 60 ft, and nowhere does he mention a merchant vessel with a capacity of more than 144 tons.............
Second, the famous lex Claudia of 218 B.C., prohibited senators and sons of senators from owning ships with a capacity of more than 300 amphorae (=15 tons). This law implies that ships in use at that time were often of low tonnage, certainly below 100 tons, for if ships were regularly over 100 tons burden, the same result could have been achieved by setting the limit at(for example) 50 tons. Third and last, a passage in Cicero seems to imply that a ship of 2,000 amphorae (=100 tons) was considered large; vessels of this size are cited by the writer (Lentulus) in a passage where it is in his interest to imphasize the impressive nature of his enemy Dolabella's preparations.............
There is at present very little evidence to suppor tthe view that ships of 500 tons burden or more were anything but extraordinary, and much of both our comparative and ancient material suggests that small ships-ships of, day, 60 tons burden and less, comprised the vast majority of Roman merchant vessels.
I don't find fault with any of that. The only difference is how you are interpreting it. Overall trade volume rose hugely until late in the Roman decline and not only did large sailing ships get built but all trade ships proliferated. The average size of ship declined just as this indicates- there were still more large sailing ships being built in the CE era than the prior BCE era. If BCE Roman trade had 1000 ships and only 50 over 200 tons while CE Rome had 5000 ships with 200 ships over 200 tons the average number of large ships declined while they still existed in higher absolute numbers. The archaeology on the size of docks and preliminary reports on dredging combing with Roman source documentation leads to the idea that there simply weren't many places that could accommodate large ships BCE while infrastructure seems to have been improved and maintained for large ships up to around 400 CE.


It is possible larger ships moored offshore and transferred their cargo via smaller ships but given the size and regular voyages of the Roman grain fleet (reportedly the largest but not only large ships) there is a lack of evidence on that front while there is evidence that docks were built as the size of the grain fleet shipments increase with Rome's population and the patronage of the Empire.
 
May 2019
429
Earth
Lads, thread was intended to discuss early-modern vessels, not Romans. OP said "around the first half of the 16th century" ;)

Getting back on track, the book 'Venetian Ships and Shipbuilders of the Renaissance' by Frederic Chapin Lane mentions that, during the late medieval, galleys were seen as preferable for passenger carrying duties by Venice because:

"...they voyaged along the coasts putting into port each night so that the traveler could always eat fresh provisions and incidently see all the sights. If the pilgrim chose to go on a round ship he would not have fresh food and he would see many famous cities only from afar, for the ship went straight across the sea to its destination, putting into port only in case of necessity."

However, it seems that pilgrim transportation was another commercial role that would be taken over by roundships during the period we are discussing. Chapin Lane's book says:

"Private enterprise produced the needed pilgrim galleys readily enough until 1500, when the only one intended for the voyage was hardly ready in time. In 1518 none was available ... But two round ships had carried pilgrims in 1517 and in 1520 three round ships contracted to do so ... In 1546 all hope of reviving the use of the galley on the voyage was abandoned and provision was made for giving special licenses to round ships of over 240 tons."

I admit I hadn't considered a potential advantage to galleys over roundships in this role for their their habit of staying closer to the coast and thus providing passengers with chances to eat ashore and visit tourist attractions. I guess in the end though, the cheaper operating costs of round ships made them more suited to passenger transport in the 16th century. Too bad Stena Line or Princess Cruises weren't around back then, maybe they could have kept the galley transports going :p
 
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