The Royal Navy, a History from the Earliest Times to the Present/Volume 1/Chapter 10

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CHAPTER X.

CIVIL HISTORY OF THE NAVY, 1399–1485.

Accession of the House of Lancaster—New types of vessels—Antiquity of English nautical terms—Cabins—Ornamentation of ships—Flags—Guns—Officers—An early passenger vessel—Cost of the Navy—Wages—Names of ships—The Navy List of Henry V.—Lancastrian neglect of the Navy—Sale of the fleet—Policing the seas by contract—The 'Libel of English Policie'—The Hansa league—The value of the sea to England—The re-creation of a navy.


The Royal Navy, a History from the Earliest Times to Present Volume 1 - Flag of Lord High Admiral.jpg
HENRY IV., of Bolingbroke, eldest son of John of Gaunt by Blanche, daughter of Henry, Duke of Lancaster, began his reign on September 29th, 1399. Under him and his two successors of the House of Lancaster, there seem to have been comparatively few changes in the material of the navy, though ships grew steadily larger and though the new weapons, which had been introduced early in the fourteenth century, and which were the outcome of the application of gunpowder to the purposes of war, were gradually developed and improved, and yearly became more potent factors in the determination of actions by sea as well as by land. But the period was one of exceedingly slow progress. Engines of more ancient type continued to be employed side by side with cannon, and bows and cross-bows side by side with hand-guns. Indeed, such was the conservatism of the navy, that not until towards the close of the sixteenth century did artillery finally assume the position of dominant arm in the service, and musketry fire altogether displace the arrow and the bolt.

The opening of the fifteenth century introduces us to one or two types of vessels which may possibly have then been new; but more probably it was the names and not the types which were really novel. The "fare-coast," for example, was, in all likelihood, the earlier "passager" or packet-boat; the "helibot" seems to have been the "hoc-boat"; and there is no evidence that the "collett" possessed special qualities distinguishing it from some pre-existent small craft. As for the "skiff," it may have been a fresh type, but small, light, swift vessels were used by English seamen in all ages. Carrocks and dromons figure as before in the chronicles of maritime occurrences; but these vessels were never characteristic English

The Royal Navy, a History from the Earliest Times to Present Volume 1 - Ship, XIVth Century.jpg

SHIP, XIVTH CENTURY.
(From Harleian MSS. 4380, folio 149.)

types, and though they occasionally fought for England, they generally appeared either as mercenaries, or as prizes which had been won from a continental enemy.[1] Some of the carracks of the time were large. In the reign of Henry V. one, building at Barcelona, was of 1300 "botts" or tons, and another of 1000. These, however, were quite exceptional.[2] Vessels of more than 300 tons were still uncommon.

Nor was it usual for a ship to have more than one mast. In this respect, England was certainly behind many foreign countries. As in the previous period, a few vessels had two masts; but there is some ground for suspecting that most of these had been built abroad. Not until the first years of Henry VII. do three-masters seem to have been known. Many nautical terms that are now familiar were already in use. "Junk" had become a synonym for pieces of old cable; and "blocks" for pulleys; and the words "rigging," "capstanspokes," tacks," and "fore-lock" are met with.[3] Cabins in big ships were the rule; and pantries, butteries, and other domestic offices were constructed "under the hatches."[4] Vessels were caulked or "calfacted" with tallow and tow, and some had pumps and "poupes." Some also were very splendidly decorated. In the year 1400, one of the king's barges with her mast was painted red, and the ship was ornamented with collars and garters of gold, each collar containing a fleur-de-lys, and each garter a leopard, together with gold "lyames" or leashes, having within each of them a white greyhound and a gold collar. The ship Good Pace of the Tower was likewise painted red, but her bulwarks, cabin, and stern were of other colours. On the bowsprit was a large gold eagle with a crown in its mouth. The Trinity of the Tower was red, too; on her stern were effigies of St. George, St. Anthony, St. Katherine, and St. Margaret, with four shields of the king's arms within a collar of gold, and two of the arms of St. George within the garter. Two large eagles were painted in the cabin on a diapered ground. The king's barge, Nicholas of the Tower, was painted black, and covered or "powdered" with ostrich feathers, the scroll-work being gilt. In one part of her cabin were escutcheons bearing the king's arms and the arms of St. George, and in another part was an image of St. Christopher.[5] The Holy Ghost, built at Southampton for Henry V., was adorned with figures of the supporters of his arms, a swan and an antelope.[6] The same monarch's own ship, the cog John, was distinguished with a crown and sceptre, and his crest, the lion of England crowned, on the truck of the mast. Her capstan was "ad modum trium florium deliciarum operatum"—probably capped with a model of three fleurs-de-lys—and she had five smaller and one greater lanterns. The sails of ships were embroidered with badges or arms in colours.[7] The sail of the cog John had the king's arms; that of the Nicholas, the royal badge of a swan; that of the

The Royal Navy, a History from the Earliest Times to Present Volume 1 - Ships fourteenth century.jpg

SHIPS, XIVTH CENTURY.
(From Harleian, MSS., 4395, folio 159.)

Katrine of the Tower, another royal badge of an antelope climbing up a beacon.[8]

The flags used were various. The cog John, of Henry V., flew, besides the royal banner, two streamers, one of the Trinity, and one of Our Lady, and eight guidons, one of the Trinity, one of Our Lady, one of St. Edward, one of St. George, two bearing the king's arms, one with a swan, and one with ostrich feathers. She also had eight standards or other flags similarly charged, and one "banner of council." The Nicholas flew one streamer of St. Nicholas, and four guidons, one of St. Edward, one of St. George, one of the king's arms, and one with the ostrich feathers. And the Katrine flew four guidons, four standards, and streamer of St. Katherine.[9] It will have been noticed that the names of saints were very commonly given to ships. Then, as now, the naming of a king's vessel was accompanied by a religious ceremony or benediction, for, in July, 1418, the Bishop of Bangor blessed the Grace à Dieu, then lately built at Southampton; and received for his expenses £5.[10] But it is probable that the practice of permitting a layman or a lady to "christen" the ship is a much more modern one, and there is no trace, in the fifteenth century, of ship-baptism with wine.

References to artillery and artillery stores become more and more frequent in the accounts and other papers of the period. There were guns of brass and of iron, hand-guns, and guns with chambers; and stone as well as iron or leaden shot were employed.[11] With the compass there seems to have been less progress. The accounts tend to indicate that not every ship carried anything of the sort; and it may be that only flagships or leading vessels were supplied with "dials" and "sailing-needles." The needle itself appears to have been sometimes called the compass; for the Christopher is said to have had "iij compus and j dyoll." Nicolas is of opinion that the ballinger Gabriel of the Tower may have carried an instrument closely resembling a compass in the modern acceptation of the word, seeing that among her stores were "j dioll, j compasse," and "j boxe."[12]

The officers and crews of ships remained as before. There were masters, constables, carpenters, sailors, and boys; and there was a "clerk" in the king's ships, corresponding with the purser and paymaster of later days. But there were changes in the system of appointment to the office of admiral. It has been already noted that under the Angevins it was usual to appoint an admiral of the north, and another of the west, and that only occasionally was there a commander-in-chief, or Admiral of England. From 1406, however, there was always an Admiral of England, who commanded in chief the fleets of England, Ireland, and Aquitaine. As this exalted officer could not he in two places at once, subsidiary flag-officers or commanders of fleets or squadrons were from time to time appointed to serve under him, their commissions always providing that they should not be prejudicial to the rights of the Admiral of England. These subsidiary officers were not always styled admirals, even when they commanded ships and seamen as well as soldiers and men-at-arms afloat. Sometimes they were designated "captains and leaders of men-at-arms and archers on the sea," or "the king's lieutenants on the sea"; and occasionally an admiral commanded the fleet, while a king's lieutenant commanded the men-at-arms and archers in it; whereas on other occasions the captain and leader, or the king's lieutenant, acted with the powers of a modern admiral, commanding both the seamen and all soldiers serving in the ships.[13]

In 1836, Mr. Thomas Wright copied from an ancient MS. (R. 3-19) in Trinity College, Cambridge, and sent to Monsieur A. Jal for use in his 'Archéologie Navale,' the following nautical song or ballad, which may be taken as referring to experiences on board an early passenger vessel, and which dates from the reign of Henry VI. It was afterwards printed in the first part of 'Reliquæ Antiquæ,' edited by T. Wright and J. O. Halliwell: —

Men may leve all gamys
That saylen to Seynt Jamys;
For many a man hit gramys
   When they begyn to sayle.
For when they have take the see
At Sandwyche or at Wynchylsee,
At Brystow, or where that hit be,
   Theyr herts begyn to fayle.

Anone the mastyr commandeth fast
To his shyp-men, in all the hast,
To dresse hem sone about the mast
   Theyr takeling to make.
With "howe, hissa!" then they cry:
"What howe, mate, thou stondyst to ny;
Thy fellow may nat hale the by!"
   Thus they begyn to crake.

A boy or tweyn anone up styen,
And ove-whart the sayle-yerde lyen:
"Y how talya!" the remenaunt cryen,
   And pull with all theyr myght.
"Bestowe the bote, bote-swayne, anon,
That our pylgryms may pley thereon,
For som ar lyke to cowgh and grone
   Or hit be ful mydnyght.

"Hale the bowelyne! Now, vere the shete!
Coke, make redy anone our mete.
Our pylgryms have no lust to ete:
   I pray God give hem rest.
Go to the helm! What howe! No here?
Steward, felow, a pot of bere!"
"Ye shall have, set, with good chere
   Anone, all of the best."

"Y howe! Trussa! Hale in the brayles!
Thow halyst nat! Be god! Thow fayles!
O! se howe well owre good shyp sayles!
   And thus they say among.
"Hale in the wartake!" "Hit shall be done!"
"Steward, cover the boorde artone,
And set bred and salt thereone,
And tary nat to long."

Then cometh cone and seyth, "Be mery;
Ye shal have a storme or a pery."
"Holde thow thy pese! Thow canst no whery;
   Thow medlyst wondyr sore."
Thus mene cohile the pylgryms ly,
And have theyr bowlys fast theym by,
And cry aftyr hote malvesy
   Theyr helpe for to restore.

And som wold have a saltyd tost,
For they myght ete neyther sode ne rost.
A man myght sone pay for theyr cost
   As for oo day or twayne.
Som layde theyr bookys on theyr kne,
And rad so long they myght nat se.
"Alas! myne hede woll cleve on thre!"
   Thus seyth another, "certayne!"

Then commeth owre owner lyke a lorde,
And speketh many a royall worde,
And dresseth hym to the hygh horde
   To see all thyngs be well.
Anone he calleth a carpentere,
And biddeth hym bring with hym hys gere,
To make the cabans here and there
   With many a febyll cell.

"A sak of strawe were there ryght good,"
For som must lyg theym ni theyr hood.
I had as lefe be in the wood
   Without mete or drynk:
For when that we shall go to bed,
The pumpe was nygh our bedde hedde:
A man were as good to be dede
   As smell therof tile stynk.

Freely translated.—They who sail to St. James may bid good-bye to all pleasures: for many a man suffers when he begins to sail; and when he has put to sea from Sandwich, from Winchelsea, or from Bristol, no matter whence it be, his heart begins to fail. Presently the master briefly orders his men to take up their positions in all haste about the mast in order to handle their tackle. With "Ho! Hoist!" then they cry, "What ho! mate; you stand too near: your comrade cannot haul when he is so close to you!" Thus they begin to crack on. Presently a boy or two goes aloft, and lies out on the yard. The others cry, "Y ho! talya!" and pull with all their might. "Now give us the boat, boatswain, that our passengers may ply therein; for some of them are like to cough and groan ere it be full midnight. Haul the bowline! Now, veer the sheet! Cook, make haste to make ready our meal. Our passengers have no desire to eat. I pray God to give them rest. Go to the helm! What ho! Do you not hear? Steward, fellow, a pot of beer!" "Sir, you shall have of all the best directly, with good cheer." "Oh ho! Trussa! Haul on the brails! You are not hauling! By God! You are a weakling! Oh, see how well our good ship sails!" And thus they talk among themselves. "Haul in the warp tackle!" "It shall be done!" "Steward, lay the table at once, and set bread and salt on it, and do not be too long about it." Then one comes and says, "Be merry; you will have a storm or other peril!" "Hold your tongue! You can know nothing about it! You are a sorry meddler!" In the meanwhile the passengers lie about, and have their basins close by them, and cry out for hot malvoisie to put them right. And some, who could eat neither boiled nor roast, called for a salted toast. It would not cost more to keep them for two days than for one. Some laid their books on their knees, and read until they could see no longer. "Alas! my head will split in three beyond all doubt!" So says another. Then our owner comes up like a lord, and says many a patronising word, and takes the head of the table, to see that all things go well. Presently he summons a carpenter, and bids him bring his tools with him, to make cabins here and there, with a number of small bunks. "A sack of straw," says the master, "would be well there;" for some have to lie down in their cloaks. I would as soon be in a wood without meat or drink; for when we turn in, the pumps will be close to our bed head, and a man who breathes the stench of it were as good as dead.

The approximate cost of such navy as was maintained by the Lancastrian kings may be estimated from the fact that during one quarter of the year 1410, the tonnage allowance paid to shipowners, together with the wages and rewards of the men-at-arms, masters, constables, and mariners amounted to £8240 17s. 6d. This would

The Royal Navy, a History from the Earliest Times to Present Volume 1 - From the MS. Life of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick.jpg

FROM THE MS. LIFE OF RICHARD BEAUCHAMP, EARL OF WARWICK, BY JOHN ROUS, WHO DIED 1491.
(Cotton MSS., Julius E. iv. 6.)

be equivalent to about £33,000 a year, assuming fleets to be kept in commission for so long a period. In the same year, the safe guarding of the sea—which may have been expenditure under a different heading—cost £6241 17s. 6d. for one quarter and half a quarter. This was at the rate of about £16,700 a year. The total expenditure may possibly therefore have been as much as £50,000 or thereabouts in years when the unofficial wars with France and Spain were at their height.

Wages in the navy remained throughout the Lancastrian period as they had been under Edward III.; but, in addition to their wages, most persons employed by the Crown received a sum called a "reward," which, in the case of a seaman, was sixpence a week. Exactly what "reward" then signified is unknown, nor is it known under what rules and regulations the gratuity was granted. But it was probably derived from the wages of fictitious men, not actually borne.

On August 19th, 1417, being then at Touques, near Honfleur, Henry V. granted an annuity to the master of each of his ships, carracks, barges, and ballingers. The enclosure with the letters missive addressed upon the occasion to the chancellor, the Bishop of Durham, seems to show that the king's ships at that time, and the names of their commanders or masters were as follows:—

Description. Name. Master.
Great ship Jesu John William
    " Trinity Royal Stephen Thomas
    " Holy Ghost Jordan Brownyng
Carrack Peter John Gerard
   " Paul William Payne
   " Andrew John Thornyng
   " Christopher — Tendrell
   " Marie William Hethe
   " Marie William Richeman
   " Georqe John Mersh
   " Agnes or Agase (?)
Ship Nicholas William Robynson
  " Katherine John Kyngeston
  " Marie Richard Walsh
  " Flaward (?) Thomas Martyn
  " Marie William Cheke
  " Christopher William Yalton
Barge Petite Trinité John Piers
Ballinger Ann Ralph Hoskard
   " Nicholas Robert Shad
   " George Edward Hoper
   " Cracchere Stephen Welles
   " Gabriel Andrew Godefrey
   " Little John John Bull
   " James Janyn Cossard
   " Swan — Rowe
   " Katherine Janyn Dene

The annuity for each master of a great ship or carrack was £6 13s. 4d.; that for each master of a ship, £5: and that for each master of a barge or ballinger, £3 6s. 8d. The James and Swan were attached, probably as tenders, to the Holy Ghost and the Trinity respectively.[14]

It is noteworthy that the revolution which, in 1460, deposed the House of Lancaster, and set up the House of York, was, to a large extent, a naval one. The attitude of the navy was the almost inevitable result of the commercial policy which had been pursued by the Lancastrian kings, and especially by the last two of them. With the exception of a decreasing number of king's ships, all


1 Mr. M. Oppenheim ('History of the Administration of the Royal Navy,' vol. i. p. 12) has compiled from the accounts of William Catton and William Soper, successive keepers of the ships, a list, which he believes to be the fullest so far printed, of the navy of Henry V. This list is given below, but, for the sake of brevity, the affix "of the Tower," which is therein applied to each of the vessels, except the Marie Hampton and Marie Sandwich, and which is simply equivalent to the modern prefix "H.M.S.," is omitted. The list is, of course, of a date a few years later than the one given in the text: —

Built. Taken. Tons.

Ships:- Jesus Holigost Trinity Royal Grace Dieu Thomas[15] Grande Marie Little Marie Katrine Christopher Spayne Marie Spayne Holigost Spayne Philip Little Trinity Great Gabriel Cog John Red Cog Margaret

Carracks: — Marie Hampton. Marie Sandwich George Agase Peter Paul Andrew

Barges: — Valentine Marie Bretton

Ballingers: — Katrine Bretton James Ann Swan Nicholas George Gabriel Gabriel de Harfleur Little John Fawcon Roos Cracchere


1414 1416 1418 1420 21416 +20 1000 760 540 8 1416 1117 $1417 $1417 180

140 1418 100 1417 600 41417 $ 1417 290


21416 1417 1417 1417 1418 120 120 120 120 120

21416 500 1416 550 21416 600 30 56

1 Rebuilt. 2 Captured by the Duke of Bedford. 3 Taken in Soutbampton Water or at Dartmouth. 4 Captured by the Earl of Huntingdon.

The Holigost seems to have carried six, the Thomas four, the George and Grace Dieu each three, and the Katrine and Andrew each two guns. The Grace Dieu was accidentally burnt at Bursledon in 1439. The Georges, both carrack and ballinger, Christopher, Katrine Bretton, Thomas, Grande Marie, Holigost Spayne, Nicholas, Swan, and Cracchere, were all sold in 1423. Only two of the vessels, the Trinity and Holigost, seem to have remained in 1452; when they, rotten and useless, practically constituted the entire Royal Navy of England. vessels used for war in those days had been built for merchantmen, served as merchantmen in peace-time, belonged to merchants, and were manned by persons nominally in the pay of merchants. The connection between the navy and the general mercantile prosperity of the country was consequently very intimate. If the merchants were discontented, the navy was apt to be inclined to disaffection; and, under Henry V. and Henry VI., the merchants of England were nearly ruined. Indeed, it was said that the frequent and often unreasonably protracted arrests of shipping, the undue favour accorded to foreigners, and the heavy exactions of various kinds, brought about such a decline of commerce that the people became poorer than they had ever been within the memory of persons then living. The natural course of trade was interfered with; as, for example, by Henry VI., who, not satisfied with mortgaging the customs of London and Southampton to the Cardinal of Winchester, engaged by indenture to turn sea-borne commerce chiefly to those ports. And the security of personal property was outraged by the same king, when, in his thirty-first year, he seized all the tin at Southampton, and sold it for his own purposes. The business that drifted away from the merchants of England fell into the hands first of those of the Hanse Towns,[16] and then of those of Italy;[17] and as the commercial classes, probably with good reason, imagined that the transfer was aided by the corrupt intrigues of the Court and particularly by those of Queen Margaret of Anjou, they were not slow to welcome the Yorkists, among whose professed principles were the encouragement of trade, the revival of the navy, and distrust of foreigners.

And, indeed, the navy sadly needed revival, for the fleet had practically ceased to exist. Under Henry VI., one of the first orders of the Council[18] had directed the sale of most of it, apparently to pay the late king's debts. How little of national feeling there was in the land, and how entirely the navy was regarded as the personal possession of the sovereign, will appear from the fact that the Council parted from the fleet without a qualm, and that the people quietly suffered the iniquity. For the two years ending August 31st, 1439, the whole outlay on the Royal Navy was only £8 9s. 7d.

After the sale of the navy, the police of the Narrow Seas, so far as it was carried out at all, was carried out by contractors. In 1440, the seamen employed by one of these, Sir John Speke, received 1s. 6d. a week as pity, and a similar amount for victuals.[19] A few years later, and until 1450 or afterwards, the Nicholas, which up to 1423 had belonged to the Royal Navy, was doing duty on behalf of the contractors. In 1445 the contractors’ seamen received 1s. 9d. a week, and a weekly reward of 6d.; boys were paid 1s. 1½d.; and masters obtained 6d. a day. At times, the contractors seem to have done their work fairly well; though one has no means of saying how far they were assisted, seeing that, for example, in 1444–45, a Cinque Ports fleet of twenty-six vessels was in commission. But the contract system was identified with the Lancastrian dynasty; and as soon as the Yorkists gained sufficient power, they vigorously set about ending it. As early as 1454, measures with this obiect were adopted.

It may be said that, upon the whole, the promises foreshadowed by the advent of the Yorkists were fairly performed. Edward IV. did much to encourage trade, and under him it grew greatly; he devoted steady attention to the recovery and maintenance of the dominion of the sea; and he was essentially an English king, though a profligate, and sometimes a cruel one. Nor did he greatly oppress his subjects. He drew from them, it is true, benevolences to meet his most pressing needs, and so raised money without the assistance of Parliament; but these aids came chiefly from the rich, and they were, at least nominally, of a voluntary nature. The poor were not taxed beyond the bounds of reason, and it is not recorded that the rich were ruined. Edward V. reigned only for a few months. Richard III. called but one parliament, and levied but one regular tax—a tenth upon the clergy; and, no matter what may have been his private character and motives, he was neither incapable nor unpatriotic as a king. In 1484, he formally abolished benevolences as “new and unlawful inventions,” though it is more than suspected that he continued to raise them until the close of his short reign. On the other hand, he was not particularly extortionate, and he was an undoubted friend to commercial development.

Under the Yorkists there were even fewer changes in the material and management of the navy than under the Lancastrians. But the period is remarkable as having witnessed the first publication, apparently in manuscript, of a little anonymous verse treatise, the spirit breathed by which has ever since, and with ever-increasing power, influenced the English race.

Entitled 'De Politia Conservitia Maris,' and as such printed in Hakluyt,[20] it is more generally known as 'The Libel of English Policie.' It is in English ten-syllabled rhymed couplets. Although

The Royal Navy, a History from the Earliest Times to Present Volume 1 - From the MS. Life of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (2).jpg

FROM THE MS. LIFE OF RICHARD BEAUCHAMP, EARL OF
WARWICK, BY JOHN ROUS, WHO DIED 1491.
(Cotton MSS., Julius, E. iv. 6.)

its authorship is a matter of doubt,[21] it is known, from statements in the work itself, that it was revised and approved of by Walter, first Baron Hungerford, during the lifetime of the Emperor Sigismund; and, as Hungerford, who had served as admiral of a squadron in 1416, was not summoned as a baron until 1426, and Sigismund died in 1437, the date of the ‘Libel’ must lie between those years. It is divided into all introduction and twelve chapters, and is of sufficient importance to merit some analysis here, seeing that the writer was perhaps the first to fully grasp the importance to England of commerce and sea-power.

The general introduction runs:—“Here beginneth the prologue of the processe of the Libel of English Policie, exhorting all England to keep the Sea, and namely the Narrow Sea; shewing what profite cometh thereof, and also what worship and salvation to England, and to all Englishmen.”

After demonstrating both the usefulness and the necessity of England’s preserving the dominion of the sea, and stating that the Emperor Sigismund, who had been in England in 1416, and who had gone to France vith Henry V., had advised that king to keep the two towns Dover and Calais as carefully as he would keep his two eyes, the author explains the device on the gold noble[22] struck by Edward III., after Sluis, his text being:—

“Four things our noble sheweth unto me,
King, ship, and sword, and power of the sea.”

The first chapter contains an account of the commodities of Spain and Flanders, and insists that neither country could live without the other, while Spanish wool could not, without an admixture of English, be worked by the Flamands. Trade between Spain and Flanders must be precarious unless both countries were at peace with England; so that, with Calais and Dover in English hands, and the sea under English dominion, Spain and Flanders flourished only by the permission of England.

The second chapter deals with the commodities of Portugal, and points out that Portugal had always been friendly to England, and that a valuable trade had always subsisted between the two countries, although the current of the commerce had begun to turn so as to benefit Flanders. Another chapter treats of the commerce of Brittany, and of the general interruption occasioned to trade by the piracies of the Bretons, whenever England failed to assert her dominion of the Narrow Seas. In the fourth chapter, the commerce of Scotland is reviewed, the conclusion being that Scotland might be ruined, should England, strong at sea, see fit to prevent her from drawing her household stuffs, her haberdashery, her agricultural tools, and even her wheel-barrows and cart-wheels from abroad.

The fifth chapter relates to Germany and the Hanse Towns; the sixth to Genoa; the seventh to Venice and Florence; and the eighth to the non-German Hanse Towns, especially those of the Low Countries. These chapters mainly insist upon the evils resulting from English encouragement of foreigners, and upon the advantage to England, should she secure the trade carried on by others, as she might do, were she strong at sea[23]

The ninth chapter contains a survey of the commerce of Ireland, with a suggestion that English trade would he more benefited by a thorough reduction of that island than by all the efforts to conquer France by military methods. The tenth chapter speaks of the trade from Scarborough and Bristol to Iceland and includes an excursus on the importance of Calais. The eleventh chapter is devoted to recalling the naval power of Edgar and of Edward III., and to setting forth the progress made under Henry V. in the construction of larger ships than had been previously built in England.

The twelth and final chapter is recapitulatory, and it closes with a strong exhortation to the people of England to consider the importance of the author’s pleas, and in particular to bear in mind the necessity of maintaining the sovereignty of the seas, whereon the peace, plenty, and prosperity of the island chiefly depend. The spirit of the conclusion strangely recalls the wording of the preamble to the modern Naval Discipline Act, and may have originally suggested it, though a very similar expression occurs in a complaint of the Commons in 1416.[24]

The doctrine of the influence of sea-power is, therefore, no new one. It has been analysed, and, so to speak, codified by nineteenth-century writers, such as Mahan and Colomb; but in all its most essential bearings it was fully gasped by this anonymous fifteenth-century rhymester. In the following century it was familiar to Bacon,[25] who, in his essay, ‘Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates,’ wrote: “To be master of the sea is an abridgment of a monarchy… He that commands the sea is at great liberty, and may take as much and as little of the war as he will; whereas those that be strongest by land are many times, nevertheless, in great straits. Surely at this day, with us of Europe the vantage of strength at sea, which is one of the principal dowries of this kingdom of Great Britain, is great, both because most of the kingdoms of Europe are not merely inland, but girt with the sea most part of their compass, and because the wealth of both Indies seems in great part but an accessory to the command of the seas.” And, in the seventeenth century, Ralegh understood the doctrine, when, in his ‘Discourse of the First Invention of Ships,’ he declared: “Whosoever commands the sea, commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world, commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself.”

Yet even the unknown author of the ‘Libel’ preached an ancient and, in theory, a long-accepted gospel. Cicero wrote to Atticus: “Consilium Pompeii plane Themistocleum est; putat enim, qui marl potitur, eum rerum potiri.

The reconstitution of the Royal Navy was a slow process. At first it seems to have been attempted by the process of buying and adapting merchantmen. As early as July, 1461, a ship, the Margaret, of Ipswich, which carried cannon, was spoken of as “our great ship.”[26] In 1463 a caravel was bought for £80, and a partial or entire share in the Jonh Evangelist was similarly secured.[27] In 1468, the Mary of Grace was purchased; and in 1470 a ship called the Martin Garcia was acquired from Portugal.[28] A St. Peter was bought from Spain at about the same time. The first ship to be built for the new navy seems to have been another Grace Dieu[29] in 1473; though it is not quite certain that one of the vessels previously purchased had not been so re-named. Other king's ships mentioned prior to the fall of Richard III. are the Trinity, Falcon, Mary of the Tower (a carrack acquired from France), Mary Ashe (which may, however, be another form of Mary of Grace), Governor, and Nicholas, the last two being bought at the beginning of 1485.

  1. Nicolas, ii. 441, 442.
  2. Ellis's Letters, 2nd series, i. 71.
  3. Nicolas, citing various Carlton Ride papers, ii. 443.
  4. Roll C.A. (Carlton Ride papers), 356.
  5. Roll W.N. (Carlton Ride papers), 1441.
  6. Issue Roll, 2 Hen. V. 338, 339 (Devon).
  7. Her anchor was the gift of Sir John Blount.
  8. Roll of For. Accounts, temp. Hen. V.
  9. Roll of For. Accounts, temp. Hen. V.
  10. Issue Roll, 5 Hen. V. 356 (Devon).
  11. Various Carlton Ride Rolls, cited by Nicolas, iii. 444.
  12. Roll of For. Accounts, temp. Hen. V.
  13. 'Fœdera,' ix. 202.
  14. 1
  15. 1
  16. Molloy: 'De Jure Maritimo, 341.
  17. Fabian, 459. See also Grafton and Hall.
  18. Acts of the P.C., Mar. 3rd, 1423.
  19. Roll of For. Accts. xi.
  20. Voyages, i. 187.
  21. It has been attributed, with some show of reason to Bishop Adam de Moleyns, who was murdered at Portmouth in 1450.
  22. Illustrated, ante, p. 145.
  23. The evils complained of were already in process of correction. Mr. Oppenheim says: “If the Norman conquest gave the first great impulse to English over-sea trade, the events of the close of the fourteenth and the first half of the fifteenth centuries may be held to mark the second important era in the development of merchant shipping by the opening up of fresh markets. Hitherto, the products of the countries of the Baltic had been mainly obtained through the agency of the merchants of the Hansa, who had their chief factory in London, with branches at York, Lynn, and Boston. In the same way, English exports found their way to the north only through Hansa merchants and in Hausa ships. For two centuries they had held a monopoly of the purchase and export of the products of the north, by virtue of treaties with, and payments made to, the northern powers, and an unlicensed, but very effective, warfare waged on all ships which ventured to trade through the Sound. But the war against Waldemar III. of Denmark, the depredations of the organised pirate republic known as the Victual Brothers, followed by the struggle with Eric XIII. of Sweden, were times of disorder lasting through more than half a century, from which the Hansa emerged nominally victorious, but with the loss of the prestige and vigour that had made its monopoly possible. While it was fighting to uphold its pretensions, the Dutch and English had both seized the opportunity of forcing their way into the Baltic, and when, in 1435, the Hansa extorted from its antagonists a triumphant peace, the real utility of the privileges thus obtained had passed away for ever.”—‘Admin. of Roy. Navy,’ 10, 11.
  24. Parl. Rolls, iv. 79.
  25. Although this essay was not actually published until 1612.
  26. Excheq. Warr. forr Issues, July 20th.
  27. Ib., July 5th, 1463.
  28. Ib., Dec. 14th, 1468; July 18th, 1470.
  29. Called also Grace à Dieu, Grace de Deiu.