The Development of Broadside Gunnery 1450-1650

By N.A.M. Rodger, published August 1996


The article criticises several assumptions by later British historians such as Sir Julian Corbett about the origins of the heavy-gunned ‘broadside’ vessel and associated English battle tactics especially during the Spanish Armada campaign. Many guns were considered ‘fixed’, the ship was aimed. English carriages allowed for transverse positioning though the number of actual gunners remained small—‘one man a gun at most’. Reloading during combat was rare, as opposed to ‘charges’ against an enemy ship (making bow guns much more important than the broadside) followed by nearly an hour to withdraw and reload. Rodger also takes issue with the notion of a ‘line of battle’ during this period.

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Filed under: Atlantic | Tudors | English Channel | The Armada
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Navies | Weapons

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