From Lateen to Square Rig: the Evolution of the Greek-owned Merchant Fleet and its Ships in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Between the middle of the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries shipping became a major economic activity for many Ionian and Aegean communities. The growth of the merchant marine of the Ionians and Aegean Greeks under both Venetian and Ottoman sovereignty, and that of the kingdom of Greece after 1830, are examined in relation to shipping developments. A key element of this study is the analysis of the ship types that were employed by Greek shipowners over the period. The evolution of ship types helps us to understand the technical upgrade of the Greek merchant fleets and in parallel with their economic growth, their expansion to new routes and their specialization on certain trades and markets. As they made the transition from purely Mediterranean ship types to those influenced by those of western and northern Europe, seafarers improved the performance of their business and gathered important technical know-how. As a result they steadily integrated with the wider international maritime economy.