The Effectiveness of Fifteenth-century Shipboard Artillery

By Dr Kelly de Vries, published November 1998


Land-based gunpowder weapons were mounted in ships from the 1330s and thereafter were modified specifically for maritime use. Shipboard guns were primarily defensive weapons in the 14th and 15th Centuries. While highly unlikely to sink an enemy’s vessel, their anti-personnel and morale effects were significant. By the end of the period, however, heavier cannon were able to pierce hulls and in 1501 Vasco da Gama sank three Indian vessels by gunfire. Thus their lethal effectiveness was proved.

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Filed under: High Middle Ages | Other (location)
Subjects include: Weapons

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