Naval Actions of the Thirty Years’ War

By W.P. Guthrie, published August 2001


Although ship design and construction did not change and Charles 1st’s Sovereign of the Seas would not have been out of place at Trafalgar, the seventeenth century marked a major transition in naval tactics. The paper describes the evolution of tactics from the chaotic battles of the start of the period, using a very varied mix of ships with the aim of boarding and taking the enemy’s major ships, to the development of the line of battle allowing the use of the broadside to destroy the fighting effectiveness of the enemy and causing them to surrender their vessels.  The Thirty Years War was not one single conflict but a complex collection of over twelve varying, separate and contradictory conflicts between the major European powers in the period 1618-48. W P Guthrie looks at some of the major naval actions during the period and discusses the tactics used in what was a transition period where the mêlée of the skirmish and boarding battle was about to give way to the discipline of the Line of Battle. To support the descriptions of the battles, several tables are provided giving the makeup of the fleets and their relative strengths.

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Filed under: Baltic | English Channel | North Sea | Other (Early Modern)
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics

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