Medieval Ships ‘Chain of Command’

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    Alistair Roach

      Having read Susan Rose’s marvellous book ‘England’s Medieval Navy 1066-1509‘, does anyone know anything about the ‘chain of command’ that would relate to medieval ships, whether it be to the individual vessel or perhaps a group or ‘squadron’ of ships?

      Susan Rose

        Ships – whether the king’s own or those of private individuals if they were over around 80 tuns capacity or thereabouts -normally had a master and a constable paid 6d per day, which was twice the rate of mariners (3d pd) and boys (penny halfpenny). It has been suggested that the constable was in charge of the fighting men on board but this seems unlikely as ships with no fighting men on board also had constables. Small ships just had a master and mariners. By the time of Henry VII gunners were carried on royal ships. How a squadron of ships was controlled is not made clear although there are, in the Black Book of the Admiralty, details of the Admiral’s powers, how a fleet should be organised and signals by lanterns at night and by raising flags. There is no evidence that these rules were followed routinely or not. Military commanders were present on vessels on warlike voyages and some commanders in the reign of Henry V ( Hugh Courtenay, Thomas Carrew the earl of Huntingdon) clearly had a degree of expertise but exactly how this was exercised is not clear. Susan Rose

        Marvic Attard

          I know the question was entered a while back. My main interest is the Mediterranean. If you have time to read and the link 2. at the bottom of the article you might get some of your answers. Ramon Muntaner, the Catalan chronicler, reports that twenty-two galleys set sail for the western end of Sicily, without describing their specific make-up, construction or type.[7]He speaks about the leaders and roles that might give other hints. I imagine the chain of command would have been similar to Northern Europe as the rulers were intermixed and followed similar processes i.e. Angevins and Aragonese followed the Hohenstaufen who followed the Normans.

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