Ships of the 1500s

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
4,948
#21
In restricted waters where distances traveled were short, and you were not expected to go up against lol arge ships of the line, galleys may have made sense. But the number one naval power in the world, Britain, largely did not use galleys after the early modern period, showing that galleys had only limited usefulness.
The Baltic situation with the galley fleets struggled precisely with trade offs between firepower, speed and manouverability (and crew comfort to some extent).

The Swedish Archipelago Fleet after 1760 introduced a new class of "Archipelago Frigates", deeper draught, three masts (better and more spcaious quarters for crew), one or two gun-decks, these being broadside ships. What they provided was better sailing vessels, with more firepower, that were also fitted out to be rowed when necessary. The problem being that the rowing speed of these Archipelago Frigates was only 0,5-1 knots.
1546790193524.png
This being a model of the "Hemmema" class 32-gun frigate, HMS "Styrbjörn".
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,017
Spain
#22
I agree with johnincornwall, it was a comprehensive answer to a video-game question, I just want to add that the “Manila galleon” can be an misleading designation for those who don’t are aware. The route Manila-Mexico was not made by a sole Galleon, it was a fleet (well at leas it had usually two or more ships) and the ships weren’t necessarily Galleons, even if the designation Galleon could cover some different ships.
Exactly.. Galleóns were a kind of ships.. not all the ships in the Galeón de Manila were gallions.. in fact, only a minority really. And important minority but a minority (only 30,43% ships were Gallions from 1565 (first Galeón de Manila) to 1815 (last Galeón de Manila... where the shpis were frigates). In fact, the last Galleon to take part in the Galeón de Manila was the Sacra Familia in the year 1739. From 1740 to 1815 not gallions anymore.

Most of ships were built in Manila but some of them were built in Japan and in Siam. From the year 1679 the Crown prohibited that the ships took part into the Manila´s Galleon were built outside the Philippine Islands. Most of the ships were built in Cavite but some of them were made in Bagatao, Sual, Sorsogón.

Contrary to what may seem for Hollywood movies.. only 4 ships (yes 4 ships were lost by pirates in 250 years!!!!) and never the Galeón de Manila was lost at a whole.

The 4 ships were:

1st: Santa Ana lost when in California was attacked by 2 English pirate ships (Cavendish) in 1587
2nd: Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación when in California was attacked by 2 English pirate ships (Rogers) in 1709... (yes from 1587 to 1709 = 0 ship)
3rd: Nuestra Señora de Covadonga attacked by the British Fleet (HMS Centurion) in Philippines in 1743 (yes from 1709 to 1743 = 0 ships)
4th: Santísima Trinidad y Nuestra Señora del Buen Fin by the British Fleet (HMS Panther and HMS Argo) in Philippines in 1762. (From 1743 to 1762 = 0 Ship)

The Santisima Trinidad y Nuestra Señora del Buen fin was the last Spanish ship in Galeón de Manila lost in action against pirates or enemies.

From 1565 tp 1815 were lost 26 ships by Typhoons etc. most of the ships ended their days quietly after decades making the trip.

The last ship in the Galeón de Manila was the frigate Magallanes. In the year 1815. Finally, Galeón de Manila is not a ship but a commercial route.

Galeón de Manila (In Spanish).
 
Likes: Tulius

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
4,948
#23
Are we only counting pirates? It's a bit... fluid who was what. Piet Heyn, with co-admirals Lonck and Banckert + the pirate Moses Cohen Henriques, captured 16 Spanish ships in 1628, for a net worth of 11,5 million Guilders.
 
Apr 2018
270
USA
#24
Some English companies apparently were experimenting with hybrid ships for transatlantic and Caribbean trade towards the end of the 17th century. I couldn't tell you too much about them aside from the fact that a number of them ended up in the hands of famous pirates such as Captain Kidd's Adventure Galley and the Whydah Galley.



They were designed so that the lower deck could double as a rowing deck for the crew if needed, but as far as I know they didn't actually rely on oar power very often. During the Whydah's maiden voyage they would have had to collapse or remove the rowing benches anyways in order to pack the hold with as many African slaves as possible.

Alternatively a sailing ship stuck in calm waters might just have to launch skiffs or longboats filled with crew and oars to start towing or to help redirect their broadsides.
 
Apr 2018
270
USA
#25
On a somewhat related note, here's a passage written by Bernardino de Mendoza in 1594 describing Spanish tactics for dealing with fireships when the fleet was at anchor.

"Being a calme, if the shippes can stande very close togither, they put bridges ouer one another to succor them selues by, and lanche their squiffes and barkes into the sea to stopp that no enimie come to cutt the cables of their anchors, nor to set their shipps on fire, and when the tyde and winde serueth, to keepe anie from sending shipps with artificiall fiers, & mynes wrought in them, which when the fire cōmeth to the mynes should blow vp huge stones, and other like things put vppon the topp of the worke thereof: with which it doeth not only great annoyance, but burning it selfe, setteth all the rest on fier that commeth neare. These boates are to carrie artillerie, and some bring blinders to fight the better with them, and to keepe away shippes of such fyres and inuentions, where no bodie goeth in them, they carrie in their boates long ropes, and at the end of them pieces of yron chaines with great graples to fasten to the ship of fiers, which, after the yron graples haue taken holde on, they may easilie toe, whether they list."
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,017
Spain
#26
Are we only counting pirates? It's a bit... fluid who was what. Piet Heyn, with co-admirals Lonck and Banckert + the pirate Moses Cohen Henriques, captured 16 Spanish ships in 1628, for a net worth of 11,5 million Guilders.
I am afraid you have a little confusion between Galeón de Manila (Spanish East Indies) and Flota de Indias (Spanish West Indies). The Manila´s Galleon never was taken... never.. and only 4 ships lost (all of them taken by British)...

Flota de Indias was only taken one time in 1628 by Dutchmen... British were about three times but they failed (1656, 1657 and 1703) and never took the Flota de Indias... Only Heyn was able to do it.. it was the first, the last and the only time... but Heyn didn´t live enough to enjoy his success.. he was killed in action next year (1629). In 1656, Stayner took 2 ships off cadis; in 1657 Blake no one in Tenerife.
In 250 years... it is a very low rate prizes.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,567
Sydney
#27
I guess the India fleet was just too big a prey ,
most of the pirates catch were probably unescorted merchants and local shipping
It's a constant law than predators hate even odds ,
a pirate or more often a privateer could not afford glory , it was strictly business
though the crew loved the loot , they would not appreciate casualties
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,017
Spain
#28
I guess the India fleet was just too big a prey ,
most of the pirates catch were probably unescorted merchants and local shipping
It's a constant law than predators hate even odds ,
a pirate or more often a privateer could not afford glory , it was strictly business
though the crew loved the loot , they would not appreciate casualties

You are right. 100% I agree with you. The best pirates in History were "Errol Flynn" and "Tyrone Power"... Between 1540 to 1650, 11.183 ships crossed Atlantic Ocean from the West Indies (as it was named America) to Spain. They were lost 519 ships (4,64%). The 519 ships lost in 110 years.. most of them were sunked by storms, rocks, hurrricane etc... Only 107 ships between the 519 were captured, taken or sunked by pirates or rival fleet from others kingdoms... what means 20,60% lost ships or 0,95% ships crossed the Atlantic between 1540 (before to organize the Flota de Indias, Treasure fleet) to 1650.

And you are right... pirates didn´t want to be martyrs or heroes... and their ultimate dreams were not to come hand to hand infantes de Marina belonged to Tercio Viejo de la Mar Océana. Most of the 107 ships captured by enemies, (regular fleet more than pirates). In fact, most of pirates took fisher ships or light merchant ships isolated.

And Now I will break some myths about pirates invanted by movies... Johnny Deep is the other "famous pirate" in the history.

1st: Pirates were not marked with any "P"... Spaniards hanged pirates (not marked at all). British only marked slaves or people they were going to keep alive.. but British also hanged pirates.. so... no marked... not evidences at all.

2nd: Not Parley at all... a movie invention. Pirates only keept alive rich people to recieve a ramson. Who were not rich.. they were killed or thrown into the Sea. Less people to give food and less danger on board.

3rd: Not Pirate treasures... Pirates spent their money immediately on drunkenness, gamblings and whores ... they were not "thrifty bankers" .. the only pirate it is said he had a buried treasure was William Kidd... but nobody found nothing.. and it is thought it was a legend.. not a fact...and in any case it would be a "case".. not a "custom".

4th: Kraken is not a pirate myth...not even a Caribbean myth. It is a Nordic Myth and it didn´t become a kind of "Giant Squid" iconography till 18th Century (late).

5th: Patches, wooden legs and parrots on the shoulder.. another invention.. in this way the guilty is the literature. It was invented by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1883 in his novel "Treasure island" when he portraited to Long John Silver (a fictional character). In the real life, in history.. although it would have been possible some man had patches, wooden legs (no matter if Pirate or farmer)... he would have not been much time aboard on a ship. They were not wanted men in the crews because of their limitations in the seafaring tasks and in the attacks on other ships ...
Pirates were too much weak to allow dissabled people took space and consumed food and water in small boats that needed everyone 100% to have chances of success or at least get out alive. So... very "beautiful" and very false... invented by Stevenson...

Not Patches, not wooden legs and not parrots on the soulder!

6th. Boarding!!!!... In this case a Hollywood invention. Pirates never assaulted galleons or great ships...in fact, they avoid the boarding... even small ships preferred to take them by artillery. Boarding a Gallion would have been suicide. GAllions were higher and greater ships, with more guns...and the Spanish Gallion had their Infantes de marinas... specialized in hand to hand fight. Pirates sailed much smaller ships because the big ones cost a lot. And they also attacked small boats. They never attacked Warships not even large and well-armed merchant ships. Pirates were not heroes or soldiers.. they wanted easy prizes...that didn´t mean great danger for them.... to think in a Pirate ships approaching to a Spanish Gallion... holding on the artillery broadside... to chain the ship to a waship was heavier, largest and higher... try to climb the highest ship, with the risk of being crushed between the two ships, to fall into the sea or to receive a shot from the defenders at point-blank range and from a higher position, to then try to beat melee soldiers specialized in that kind of fight (hand to hand as Infantes de marina) and beside suportted by the rest of crew.... it was something only possible for pirates as "Errol Flynn", "Tyrone Power" or "Johny Deep"... in real life.. they have the same change to take a Spanish GAlleon as today Somali pirates to take a US Aircraft Carrier.

I agree with you.
 
Jan 2015
2,812
MD, USA
#29
And Now I will break some myths about pirates invanted by movies... Johnny Deep is the other "famous pirate" in the history.

1st: Pirates were not marked with any "P"... Spaniards hanged pirates (not marked at all). British only marked slaves or people they were going to keep alive.. but British also hanged pirates.. so... no marked... not evidences at all.

2nd: Not Parley at all... a movie invention. Pirates only keept alive rich people to recieve a ramson. Who were not rich.. they were killed or thrown into the Sea. Less people to give food and less danger on board.

3rd: Not Pirate treasures... Pirates spent their money immediately on drunkenness, gamblings and whores ... they were not "thrifty bankers" .. the only pirate it is said he had a buried treasure was William Kidd... but nobody found nothing.. and it is thought it was a legend.. not a fact...and in any case it would be a "case".. not a "custom".

4th: Kraken is not a pirate myth...not even a Caribbean myth. It is a Nordic Myth and it didn´t become a kind of "Giant Squid" iconography till 18th Century (late).

5th: Patches, wooden legs and parrots on the shoulder.. another invention.. in this way the guilty is the literature. It was invented by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1883 in his novel "Treasure island" when he portraited to Long John Silver (a fictional character). In the real life, in history.. although it would have been possible some man had patches, wooden legs (no matter if Pirate or farmer)... he would have not been much time aboard on a ship. They were not wanted men in the crews because of their limitations in the seafaring tasks and in the attacks on other ships ...
Pirates were too much weak to allow dissabled people took space and consumed food and water in small boats that needed everyone 100% to have chances of success or at least get out alive. So... very "beautiful" and very false... invented by Stevenson...

Not Patches, not wooden legs and not parrots on the soulder!

6th. Boarding!!!!... In this case a Hollywood invention. Pirates never assaulted galleons or great ships...in fact, they avoid the boarding... even small ships preferred to take them by artillery. Boarding a Gallion would have been suicide. GAllions were higher and greater ships, with more guns...and the Spanish Gallion had their Infantes de marinas... specialized in hand to hand fight. Pirates sailed much smaller ships because the big ones cost a lot. And they also attacked small boats. They never attacked Warships not even large and well-armed merchant ships. Pirates were not heroes or soldiers.. they wanted easy prizes...that didn´t mean great danger for them.... to think in a Pirate ships approaching to a Spanish Gallion... holding on the artillery broadside... to chain the ship to a waship was heavier, largest and higher... try to climb the highest ship, with the risk of being crushed between the two ships, to fall into the sea or to receive a shot from the defenders at point-blank range and from a higher position, to then try to beat melee soldiers specialized in that kind of fight (hand to hand as Infantes de marina) and beside suportted by the rest of crew.... it was something only possible for pirates as "Errol Flynn", "Tyrone Power" or "Johny Deep"... in real life.. they have the same change to take a Spanish GAlleon as today Somali pirates to take a US Aircraft Carrier...
Stop, stop, you're crushing my dreams! ;):p:winktongue: All seriousness aside, the statistics are great, thanks much!

Matthew
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,709
Portugal
#30
5th: Patches, wooden legs and parrots on the shoulder.. another invention..
No!!!! That can’t be true!!! I love patches, wooden legs and parrots on the shoulder… they are a part of the today’s myth’s iconography thanks to Louis Stevenson!!!

Anyway, good post Martin, I recall that one of my first posts here in Historum, a couple of years ago, was one that I raised the question if the terminology “Golden Age of Piracy” was adequate for the Caribbean for the late 17th and beginning of the 18th century, and that possibly roughly for the same period the piracy could have been more intense (in ships and worth) in other areas of the globe, such as the South China Sea and the Malacca Straits or even for the Mediterranean Sea.
 

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