Sovereigns of the Sea
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Sovereigns of the Sea : The Quest to Build the Perfect Renaissance Battleship

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Charting the politics, technological innovations & the histories of the ships, this work follows the course of the European battle for maritime supremacy, from the marriage of guns and ships in the mid-15th century to the grandiose national flagships 200 years later that led to the ship of the line.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 154 x 236 x 36mm | 621.42g
  • Turner Publishing Company
  • John Wiley & Sons Ltd
  • Chichester, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0470116676
  • 9780470116678
  • 804,438

Back cover copy

The Ultimate WarshipHer keel measured 126 feet, and she stretched to 160 feet overall. Her 46.5-foot beam sacrificed speed for the sake of stability, and the 19 feet of water she drew denied her access to smaller ports. Some saw her enormous size and ungainly proportions as serious drawbacks, but the 102 heavy bronze cannon that bristled from her flanks guaranteed that this black-hulled, ornately decorated monster would live up to her name: Sovereign of the Seas. The Dutch sailors who faced her in battle called her by another name, "The Golden Devil."This immensely powerful floating fortress was the culmination of more than two hundred years of competition among the kingdoms of Europe to create the perfect marriage between guns and ships. Their relentless quest for maritime supremacy had produced a seemingly endless succession of grandiose flagships, from Henry V's Grace a Dieu to Sweden's ill-fated Vasa. Emerging nation-states had invested vast portions of their treasuries, kings had vied as much for prestige as for power, and thousands of hapless seamen had perished in pursuit of this goal.Sovereigns of the Sea is a gripping tale of an arms race that created and ruined empires, changed the map of the world, and led Europe out of the Renaissance and into the modern age.show more

Flap copy

It was the age of the great humanist scholars, of poets, architects, painters, inventors, scientists, sculptors, and doctors--and of oneof the most ferocious and costly arms racesin history. Beginning with the first marriage of guns and ships in the early fifteenth century, the monarchs of Europe launched a desperate competition to rule the waves with ever larger, more powerful, and more seaworthy warships. Driven by continuous advances in gunfounding technology, this deadly contest gave rise, almost immediately, to national navies, led to greatleaps in shipbuilding and design, and produced revolutions in naval strategy and tactics. The price of these advances was always enormous and, in some cases, ruinous.In Sovereigns of the Sea, historian Angus Konstamcharts the dramatic course of this all-outstruggle for maritime supremacy. He explainswhy the very notion of placing heavy artilleryaboard a sailing vessel posed dauntingchallenges to Renaissance shipbuilders, and why trial-and-error efforts to overcome these challenges could easily result in disaster. Citing shipbuilding efforts in England, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, and even Scotland, Konstam examines the two centuries of politics, technology, ambition, and savage sea battles that produced the ultimate military sailingvessel--the ship-of-the-line.Beginning with Henry V's Grace a Dieu, a colossusof its day, Konstam tells the tales behind aseries of "super-ships," state-of-the-art behemoths designed to overpower any vessel that stood in their way. From Scotland's never-tested GreatMichael and Sweden's ill-fated Vasa to Henry VIII's fearsome Regent and Charles I's Sovereign ofthe Seas, their stories follow the path of shipbuilding, politics, and technological innovation during this crucial period of world history. Also key to this evolution was the experience ofships' captains and crews who, with no formalinstruction in the use of these powerful newweapons, had to learn under the worst possible conditions--in the heat of battle at sea. Konstam'saccounts of this perilous on-the-job trainingbring the thrill, horror, and confusion of seabattle to life.Complete with a fascinating description of the raising of Henry VIII's flagship Mary Rose, whose amazingly well-preserved hull and interior have changed modern understanding of Renaissance ship building, Sovereigns of the Sea is compelling reading for anyone interested in the Renaissance, naval and military history, and the age of fighting sail.show more

About Angus Konstam

Angus Konstam is a widely published authorwho has written several books on piracy, including Blackbeard: America's Most NotoriousPirate, The History of Pirates, and Piracy: The Complete History. A former naval officer and museum professional, he worked as a curator of weapons in the Tower of London and as the chief curator in the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida, before becoming a full-time historian and writer. An expert on weapons, shipwrecks, and piracy, he has advised several underwater archaeological groups and appears regularly on both the Discovery and the History channels. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.show more

Table of contents

Atlas. Preface. Acknowledgments. Introduction: The Quest. Chapter 1: Europe Comes of Age. Chapter 2: Knights of the Sea Chapter 3: The Shipbuilding Revolution. Chapter 4: The Great Rivals. Chapter 5: The Black Art of Gunfounding. Chapter 6: The Baltic Connection. Chapter 7: From Carrack to Galleon. Chapter 8: The Invincible Armada. Chapter 9: Phoenix from the Ashes. Chapter 10: Prestige over Practicality. Chapter 11: Towards the Holy Grail. Chapter 12: The Sovereign of the Seas. Postscript: The Ship of the Line. Notes. Bibliography. Credits. Index.show more
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