Tactics of Sixteenth Century Galley Artillery

By Joseph Eliav, published November 2013


The use of artillery in Mediterranean galley warfare was often perceived as being restricted to the firing of single salvos at very short range before ramming and boarding the enemy ship enabled the main fight in close combat. The article contests the reasons contemporary literature gives for this tactic and argues that it was both feasible and beneficial to fire multiple times, starting at a relatively long range. It shows that galley captains at Lepanto had orders to fire multiple times and that many of them, on both sides, actually did. Senior military experts advocated a variant of the multiple-shot artillery tactic as the core of an innovative doctrine of galley warfare that involved fighting with artillery at a distance, without boarding.


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Filed under: High Middle Ages | Other (Early Modern) | Mediterranean
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Navies | Weapons

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