European Seamanship in the Great Age of Discovery

By G V Scammell, published November 1982

Abstract

This article describes in some detail the many hazards risked by early seamen, during the fifteenth, sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and their methods of overcoming those hazards insofar as they were able to do so. Consideration is given of the facts that climate and navigation were not fully understood, whilst ships were themselves not always in good condition, especially merchant ships, and were often over-rigged, with foul hulls and not well trimmed.  The seamen used many methods of overcoming those hazards.  Many seamen were not disciplined watch-keepers when harbours were often over-crowded and hazardous.  Their safety depended on skilled leaders and, sometimes, divine intervention.

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Filed under: Tudors | High Middle Ages | Other (location)
Subjects include: Ship Handling & Seamanship

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