A cog is a type of ship that first appeared in the 10th century, and was widely used from around the 12th century on. Cogs were clinker-built, generally of oak, which was an abundant timber in the Baltic region of Prussia. This vessel was fitted with a single mast and a square-rigged single sail. These vessels were mostly associated with seagoing trade in medieval Europe, especially the Hanseatic League, particularly in the Baltic Sea region. They ranged from about 15 to 25 meters (49 to 82 ft) in length with a beam of 5 to 8 meters (16 to 26 ft), and the largest cog ships could carry up to about 200 tons.
Cogs were a type of round ship,characterized by a flush-laid flat bottom at midships but gradually shifted to overlapped strakes near the posts. They had full lapstrake, or clinker, planking covering the sides, generally starting from the bilge strakes, and double-clenched iron nails for plank fastenings. The keel, or keelplank, was only slightly thicker than the adjacent garboards and had no rabbet. Both stem and stern posts were straight and rather long, and connected to the keelplank through intermediate pieces called hooks. The lower plank hoods terminated in rabbets in the hooks and posts, but upper hoods were nailed to the exterior faces of the posts. Caulking was generally tarred moss that was inserted into curved grooves, covered with wooden laths, and secured by metal staples called sintels. Finally, the cog-built structure could not be completed without a stern-mounted hanging central rudder, which was a unique northern development. Cogs used to have open hulls and could be rowed short distances. In the 13th century they received decks.
Cogs are first mentioned in 948 AD, in Muiden near Amsterdam. These early cogs were influenced by the Norse knarr, which was the main trade vessel in northern Europe at the time, and probably used a steering oar, as there is nothing to suggest a stern rudder in northern Europe until about 1240.
Current archaeological evidence points to the Frisian coast or Western Jutland as the possible birthplace of this type of vessel. The transformation of the cog into a true seagoing trader came not only during the time of the intense trade between West and East, but also as a direct answer to the closure of the western entrance to the Limfjord. For centuries, Limfjord in northern Jutland offered fairly protected passage between the North Sea and the Baltic. Due to unusual geographical conditions and strong currents, the passage was constantly filling with sand and was completely blocked by the 12th century. This change produced new challenges. Bigger ships that could not be pulled across the sand bars had to sail around the Jutland peninsula and circumnavigate the dangerous Cape Skagen to get to the Baltic. This resulted in major modifications to old ship structures, which can be observed by analyzing evolution of the earliest cog finds of Kollerup, Skagen, and Kolding.
The need for spacious and relatively inexpensive ships led to the development of the first workhorse of the Hanseatic League, the cog. The new and improved cog was no longer a simple Frisian coaster but a sturdy seagoing trader, which could cross even the most dangerous passages. Fore and stern castles would be added for defense against pirates, or to enable use of these vessels as warships, such as used at the Battle of Sluys. The stern castle also afforded more cargo space below by keeping the crew and tiller up, out of the way.
Eventually, around the 14th century, the cog reached its structural limits, resulting in the desperate need for a quick replacement. The replacement, the hulk, already existed but awaited reconditioning. Although there is no evidence that hulks descended from the cogs, it is clear that a lot of technological ideas were adapted from one to the other and vice versa.The transition from cogs to hulks was not linear. According to some interpretations, both vessels coexisted for many centuries but followed diverse lines of evolution.
The most famous cog still in existence today is the Bremen cog. It dates from the 1380s and was found in 1962; until then, cogs had only been known from medieval documents and seals.
In 1990, well-preserved remains of a Hanseatic cog were discovered in the estuary sediment of the Pärnu River in Estonia.The Pärnu Cog has been dated to 1300.
In 2012, a cog preserved from the keel up to the decks in the silt was discovered alongside two smaller vessels in the river IJssel in the city of Kampen, in the Netherlands.The ship, dating from the early 15th century, was suspected to have been deliberately sunk into the river to influence its current. Consequently, little was expected to be found in the wreck, but during excavation and recovery in February 2016, an intact brick dome oven and glazed tiles were found in the galley as well as a number of other artifacts about the vessel.
The Hanseatic League was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Northwestern and Central Europe. Growing from a few North German towns in the late 1100s, the league came to dominate Baltic maritime trade for three centuries along the coasts of Northern Europe. Hansa territories stretched from the Baltic to the North Sea and inland during the Late Middle Ages, and diminished slowly after 1450.
Kampen is a city and municipality in the province of Overijssel, Netherlands. A member of the former Hanseatic League, it is located at the lower reaches of the river IJssel.
A broadside is the side of a ship, the battery of cannon on one side of a warship; or their coordinated fire in naval warfare. From the 16th century until the early decades of the steamship, vessels had rows of guns set in each side of the hull. Firing all guns on one side of the ship became known as a "broadside". The cannons of 18th-century men of war were accurate only at short range, and their penetrating power mediocre, entailing that the thick hulls of wooden ships could only be pierced at short ranges. These wooden ships sailed closer and closer towards each other until cannon fire would be effective. Each tried to be the first to fire a broadside, often giving one party a decisive headstart in the battle when it crippled the other ship.
Viking ships were marine vessels of unique structure, built by the Vikings during the Viking Age.
The Skagerrak is a strait running between the southeast coast of Norway, the west coast of Sweden, and the Jutland peninsula of Denmark, connecting the North Sea and the Kattegat sea area, which leads to the Baltic Sea.
A carrack was a three- or four-masted ocean-going sailing ship that was developed in the 14th to 15th centuries in Europe. Evolved from the single-masted cog, the carrack was first used for European trade from the Mediterranean to the Baltic and quickly found use with the newly found wealth of the trans-Atlantic trade between Europe and Africa and then the Americas. In their most advanced forms, they were used by the Portuguese for trade between Europe and Asia starting in the late 15th century, before eventually being superseded in the 17th century by the galleon, introduced in the 16th century.
The Limfjord is a shallow part of the sea, located in Denmark where it has been regarded as a fjord ever since Viking times. However, it has inlets both from the North Sea and Kattegat, and hence separates the North Jutlandic Island from the rest of the Jutland Peninsula. The Limfjord extends from Thyborøn Channel on the North Sea to Hals on the Kattegat. It is approximately 180 kilometres long and of an irregular shape with numerous bays, narrowings, and islands, most notably Mors, and the smaller ones Fur, Venø, Jegindø, Egholm and Livø. It is deepest at Hvalpsund.
Clinker built is a method of boat building where the edges of hull planks overlap each other. Where necessary in larger craft, shorter planks can be joined end to end into a longer strake or hull plank. The technique developed in northern Europe and was successfully used by the Anglo-Saxons, Frisians, Scandinavians, and typical for the Hanseatic cog. A contrasting method, where plank edges are butted smoothly seam to seam, is known as carvel construction.
Scuttling is the deliberate sinking of a ship by allowing water to flow into the hull. This can be achieved in several ways—seacocks or hatches can be opened to the sea, or holes may be ripped into the hull with brute force or with explosives. Scuttling may be performed to dispose of an abandoned, old, or captured vessel; to prevent the vessel from becoming a navigation hazard; as an act of self-destruction to prevent the ship from being captured by an enemy force ; as a blockship to restrict navigation through a channel or within a harbor; to provide an artificial reef for divers and marine life; or to alter the flow of rivers.
The birlinn was a wooden vessel propelled by sail and oar, used extensively in the Hebrides and West Highlands of Scotland from the Middle Ages on. Variants of the name in English and Lowland Scots include "berlin" and "birling". The Gallo-Norse term may derive from the Norse byrðingr. It has been suggested that a local design lineage might also be traceable to vessels similar to the Broighter-type boat, equipped with oars and a square sail, without the need to assume a specific Viking design influence. It is uncertain, however, whether the Broighter model represents a wooden vessel or a skin-covered boat of the currach type. The majority of scholars emphasise the Viking influence on the birlinn.
A knarr is a type of Norse merchant ship used by the Vikings. The knarr was constructed using the same clinker-built method as longships, karves, and faerings.
Lisa von Lübeck is the reconstruction of a 15th-century caravel with homeport Lübeck, Germany.
The Skuldelev ships are five original Viking ships recovered from the waterway of Peberrenden at Skuldelev, c. 20 km north of Roskilde in Denmark. In 1962, the remains of the submerged ships were excavated in the course of four months. The recovered pieces constitute five types of Viking ships and have all been dated to the 11th century. They were allegedly sunk to prevent attacks from the sea. When the remains were unearthed, they were thought to comprise six ships, but "Skuldelev 2" and "Skuldelev 4" were later discovered to be parts of one ship.
A faering is an open boat with two pairs of oars, commonly found in most boat-building traditions in western and northern Scandinavia.
The ships of Medieval Europe were powered by sail or oar, or both. There was a large variety, mostly based on much older conservative designs. Although wider and more frequent communications within Europe meant exposure to a variety of improvements, experimental failures were costly and rarely attempted. Ships in the north were influenced by Viking vessels, while those in the south by classical or Roman vessels. However, there was technological change. The different traditions used different construction methods; clinker in the north, carvel in the south. By the end of the period, carvel construction would come to dominate the building of large ships. The period would also see a shift from the steering oar or side rudder to the stern rudder and the development from single to multi-masted ships. As the area is connected by water, it would make sense that people in the Mediterranean would build different kinds of ships to accommodate different sea levels and climate. Within the Mediterranean area during the Medieval times ships were used for a multitude of reasons, like war, trade, and exploration.
Hanseatic flags are the banners of Hanseatic cities, that were flown by cogs and other ships of the Hanseatic league - as illustrated on the 1350 seal of Elbing shown here.
Jutland, known anciently as the Cimbric or Cimbrian Peninsula, is a peninsula of Northern Europe that forms the continental portion of Denmark and part of northern Germany. The names are derived from the Jutes and the Cimbri, respectively.
The Maritime history of England involves events including shipping, ports, navigation, and seamen, as well as marine sciences, exploration, trade, and maritime themes in the arts of England. Until the advent of air transport and the creation of the Channel Tunnel, marine transport was the only way of reaching the rest of Europe from England and for this reason, maritime trade and naval power have always had great importance. Prior to the Acts of Union in 1707, the maritime history of the British Isles was largely dominated by England.
A hulk was a type of medieval sea craft, a technological predecessor of the carrack and caravel. The hulk appears to have remained a relatively minor type of sailing ship apparently peculiar to the Low Countries of Europe where it was probably used primarily as a river or canal boat, with limited potential for coastal cruising. The only evidence of hulks is from legal documents and iconography.
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