‘The Rutter of the Sea’

By W. Senior, published August 1920


An early use of printing in England was the production of a translation by Copland of a French ‘rutter’ between 1528 and 1560. ‘Rutter’ is a mistranslation of ‘Routier’.  Caxton set up in business in Westminster in 1476 and by 1528 the early English press was producing a manual and pilot book for the use and benefit of the sea-farer and sea trader, a translation from the French “routier” by Robert Copeland. An edition from 1536 is to be found in the library of Lincoln’s Inn and three later editions in the British Museum. The work includes the shorter version of the Laws of Oleron, which in its elementary provisions had constituted a marine common law for north-westerly Europe since the 13th century, rather than the later “long” version included by Sir Travers Twiss in the “Black Book of the Admiralty” in the Rolls Series. This unique little book will be of particular interest to readers of The Mariner’s Mirror as a repository in English of sixteenth century place-names and mariners’ terms.

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Filed under: Tudors | English Channel
Subjects include: Miscellaneous

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