English Barges and Balingers of the Late Fourteenth Century

By J.W. Sherborne, published May 1977


Barges and balingers were sea-going oared vessels with masts, with barges generally being of greater tonnage although balingers often had more oars.  Together they sometimes comprised over a quarter of English naval fleets, with crews sufficient to pull (on average) 44 oars, which were often out-numbered by the complement of soldiers and archers.  Barges and balingers were employed as convoy vessels; impressed for espionage; licensed as privateers; and used to transport ambassadors. They were also employed in overseas trade, for which it is assumed they relied upon sail-power to avoid potentially high manning costs.

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Filed under: English Channel | High Middle Ages | North Sea
Subjects include: Shipbuilding & Design

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