Pintle and Gudgeon and the Development of the Rudder: the Two Traditions

By A. W. Sleeswyk and L. Th. Lehmann, published August 1982


Between c1200 and 1500, the stern rudder supplanted the side rudder from the Baltic to the Mediterranean.  The Chinese were using stern rudders much earlier.   In late twelfth century Europe, new iron uses were developed.  Frisian merchants began using stern rudders on cogs, with iron fittings above and below the waterline.  In the tideless Mediterranean, the curved stern rudder appeared in the early 14c, with metal fittings only above the waterline.    The first Arab stern rudder occurs in 1237.   The Chinese stern rudder may have migrated through the Arabs but parallel evolution in the Frisian islands is more likely.

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Filed under: Atlantic | Baltic | Late Middle Ages | Early Modern | Mediterranean | Pacific
Subjects include: Ship Handling & Seamanship | Shipbuilding & Design

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