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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.
Paleolithic and mesolithic hunter-gatherers may well have reached Great Britain by sea, at least partly. Separation of the island from Ireland was about 9000 BC while separation from the continent of Europe occurred around 6500 BC. English maritime history really starts with the Massaliote Periplus used by Phoenician traders in Iron Age Europe. This includes a description of the trade route to England around 600 BC. It is believed that this trade was in tin and other raw materials. A later periplus was that of Pytheas of Marsallia in "On the Ocean", written about 325 BC. It is clear that in the Iron Age trade between Gaul and Britain was routine and that fishermen travelled to Orkney, Shetland and Norway.
The first vessels used by Britons are presumed to have been rafts and dugout canoes, though the coracle, a small single passenger boat is known to have been used at least since the Roman invasion. Coracles are round or oval in shape, made of a wooden basket-like frame with a hide stretched over it then tarred to provide waterproofing. Being light, it can be carried over a shoulder. Coracles are capable of operating in mere inches of water due to the keel-less hull. The early peoples are believed to have used these boats for fishing and travel.
Early Britons used hollowed tree trunks as canoes. Examples of these canoes have been found buried in marshes and mud banks of river, at lengths upwards of two metres. One of these was found at Shapwick, Somerset in 1906. It was formed from an oak log and was six metres long. It was probably used to transport people, animals and goods across the Somerset Levels in the Iron Age.
In 1992 a notable archaeological find, named the "Dover Bronze Age Boat", was unearthed from beneath what is modern day Dover, England. It is about 9.5 metres long by 2.3 metres wide and was determined to have been a seagoing vessel. Radiocarbon dating revealed that the craft dates from approximately 1600 BC and is the oldest known ocean-going boat. The hull was of half oak logs and side panels also of oak that were stitched on with yew withies. Both the straight grained oak and yew bindings are now extinct in England. A reconstruction in 1996 proved that a crew of between four and sixteen paddlers could have easily propelled the boat during Force 4 winds at upwards of four knots to a maximum of 5 knots (9.3 km/h). The boat could have easily carried a significant amount of cargo and with a strong crew may have been able to traverse up to thirty nautical miles in a day.
Remains from a Bronze Age trading vessel have been found off Salcombe, Devon. The finds include palstave axe heads, an adze, a cauldron handle and a gold bracelet. There are also blades of swords and rapiers which are amongst the earliest in the country. Some of the objects originated in north France and are types that are rare in Britain. Evidence of tin trading has been found at Mount Batten and Bantham in Devon.
Although Julius Caesar made brief exploratory sea-borne expeditions to Britain in 55 and 54 BC, these were nearly a disaster because many of the boats were wrecked. The invasion fleet under the emperor Claudius in AD 43 was a large one, with 40000 men, and landed at Richborough, Kent.
Later, part of the Classis Britannica was based in Britain, the job of which was to control the English Channel and North Sea. At this time Britannia suffered raids by Scoti (from Ireland) and Saxons, as well as attacks by Picts from what is now northern Scotland. There was a Roman officer in charge of the "Saxon Shore" and a series of forts (or perhaps trading posts) was set up along the south and east coast. There also seems to have been a Roman fleet in the Bristol Channel, based on archaeological evidence.
Roman trade with Britain was in grain and olive oil from North Africa, with slaves and lead being exported, while men for the army and administration also came. Later, grain was exported to the continent for the army. There was also trade with Ireland.
After the end of Roman control of Britain in the early 5th century, "Saxon" mercenaries were recruited by British kings. The first are described by Gildas as arriving in "three keels" and were soon followed by more. After a dispute over pay, the Saxons revolted and were able to establish Saxon controlled areas in the east and south of England. This apparently involved both Angles and Jutes as well as Saxons. This led to much trade across the North Sea from the east coast of Britain. When an important person died their body would be placed inside a ship burial, as at Sutton Hoo where the traces of a boat 27 m long by 4.5 m wide and 1.5 m deep were found, dating to about 625 AD.
In the western areas of Britain trade with the Mediterranean world continued, many pots and other goods from Byzantium having been found at sites such as Tintagel. There was migration from southern England to Brittany and northern Spain.
By the 730s a toll was placed on ships using the port of London, which was re-founded by King Alfred after its recapture from the Vikings in 886 AD. Wine, timber and food was imported while salt, cloth, hide, lead and slaves were exported.
From the 9th century, Vikings raided Britain but were also traders. King Alfred raised a navy to counter this and the first sea battle against them is thought to have been fought in 875 AD. The Viking longship was clinker built, utilising overlapping wooden strakes and curved stemposts. It was propelled by both oars and sail. There was a steering oar at the back on the right-hand side. The knarr was a cargo vessel that differed from the longship in that it was larger and relied solely on its square rigged sail for propulsion.
In the spring of 1066 northern Britain was attacked by King Harald of Norway and Tostig Godwinson in 300-500 ships. The Norman conquest of England, in the autumn of 1066, which occurred after a seaborne invasion at Hastings, was unopposed as the English fleet had returned to base. After this the Kings of England were also rulers of much of France so presumably there was much trade across the English Channel. Various wars were fought against the French requiring transport of armies and their support. In 1120 the "White Ship" was wrecked and the sons of Henry I drowned, while in 1147 a fleet of 167 ships sailed from Dartmouth on a crusade to capture Lisbon from the Moors. Henry II invaded Ireland in 1171 and another crusade fleet sailed in 1190.
The Cinque Ports were a group of harbours, originally five, that were given privileges in exchange for providing ships to the kings of England when required.
The cog was a boat design which is believed to have evolved from (or at least have been influenced by) the longship and was in wide use by the 12th century. It too used the clinker method of construction. Ships began to be built with straight stem posts and the rudder was fixed to the stern post which made a boat easier to steer. To make ships faster, more masts and sails were fitted.
The Hanseatic League was an alliance of trading guilds that established and maintained a trade monopoly over the Baltic Sea and to a certain extent the North Sea in the Late Middle Ages, starting in the 13th century. Protection for the league was given in England in 1157. Warehouses belonging to the league were set up in eight English ports and one Scottish port. By the 16th century the league imploded and there was a rise of Dutch and English merchants.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, seamen's guilds were formed in Bristol, King's Lynn, Grimsby, Hull, York and Newcastle.
From the early 15th century, continuing into the 17th century, English ships travelled around the world searching for new trading partners and establishing new trading routes. In the process new peoples were encountered and lands were mapped that were previously unknown to the English. Bristol ships were venturing into the Atlantic Ocean in 1480/1 and may have reached Newfoundland.
Before Christopher Columbus reached mainland America, John Cabot was employed by the English government to discover new lands. He first sailed from Bristol in the "Matthew" in 1497. It is not clear where the small fleet went but two likely locations are Nova Scotia or Newfoundland. They did not find the passage to China for which they were looking. A second voyage was made in 1498 but 4 of the 5 ships vanished. Some scholars maintain that the name "America" comes from Richard Amerike, a Bristol merchant and customs officer, who is claimed (on very slender evidence) to have helped finance the Cabots' voyages.
An attempt was made to find a north-east passage to China in 1553 which was unsuccessful but led to the formation of the Muscovy Company. The Baltic was explored in the 1570s and led to the setting up of English bases in Hanse ports.
In 1578, Sir Francis Drake, in the course of his circumnavigation of the world, discovered Cape Horn at the tip of South America. The sea between this and Antarctica is now known as Drake Passage.
Richard Hakluyt was an English writer who is remembered for his efforts in promoting and supporting the settlement of North America by the English through his works, notably Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America (1582) and The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation (1598–1600). The latter also included accounts of voyages to Russia.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert established a colony in Newfoundland in 1583. The first (unsuccessful) British colony in America was set up by Sir Walter Raleigh at Roanoke, "Virginia" (now North Carolina) in 1585. Only one of the 22 ships sailing to Roanoke was lost. An exploratory voyage had been made the year before. When a re-supply voyage was made the colonists had vanished.
As a result of this exploration joint stock companies were set up, such as the Muscovy (Russia) Company, the Honourable East India Company (1599), the Levant Company and the Hudson's Bay Company. Trading "factories" were set up in India by the British in several ports. Similar companies were set up by the Dutch and Portuguese, which led to rivalries.
The first modern underwater boat proposal was made by the Englishman William Bourne who designed a prototype submarine in 1578. Unfortunately for him these ideas never got past the planning stage.
The first successful British colony in America was set up in 1607 at Jamestown. It languished until a new wave of colonists arrived in the late 17th century and set up commercial agriculture based on tobacco. The Mayflower sailed from Plymouth in 1620. The connection between the American colonies and Britain, with shipping as its cornerstone, would continue to grow unhindered for almost two hundred years.
Several major internal political events hinged on the participation (or lack of participation) of the Navy. First, at the end of the years of the Protectorate, the English Royal Navy brought Charles II back from his exile in Holland in May 1660, aboard the hastily renamed HMS Royal Charles (1655).  Again in 1688, the monarchy changed leadership as Roman Catholic James II fled the country; the English fleet made no effort oppose the landing of the Protestant William of Orange.
During the 17th century ship experienced significant change. During the early part of the 17th century, English shipbuilders developed sturdy, well masted and defensible ships, that because of the way they were rigged, required a significant crew to man.  Though this allowed English ships to travel great distances and survive in hostile waters, they could not remain competitive in the merchant shipping industry, which required ships that had greater stowage but smaller crews.  The Dutch had long been building such ships called fluits, which originated towards the end of the 16th century in the Netherlands. These vessels carried little more than half the crew of English merchant ships of comparable stowage because of their longer keel, which allowed for a much larger hold, and fewer sails, which required fewer men to maintain.  When the English engaged in several wars with the Dutch and their European allies during the later half of the century, they were exceptionally good at capturing Dutch merchant ships. These ships were soon bought into the English merchant fleet and gradually, out of the popular demand of merchants, English shipbuilders adapted some of the techniques used by Dutch builders to create ships which required smaller crews and had larger stowage. 
The 17th century was a period of growth in maritime shipping. English ships were being used as a strategic transportation method, especially for Armenian merchants, to link the Persian Gulf trading centers to the Levant. Even though Armenians had their own ships, they were mainly using English fleet services.  Though growth was slow in the first several decades, trade with the Mediterranean, East Indies, and North America Colonies and the participation in the Newfoundland Fishing Industry, witnessed growth throughout the teens, 20s and 30s.  Though the Civil War caused some decrease in trade, growth was generally good until the resurgence of the Dutch traders due to a return to peace in their country in 1648, causing a decrease in English trade, especially to the Baltic.  Parliament enacted the Navigation Ordinance of 1651 to control the access the Dutch had to English ports, in an attempt to abate the control the Dutch had over trade.  After the restoration, the fishing industry, which now was focusing more on the Iceland fishery than Newfoundland which had been taken over by North American fishermen, reached its apex of expansion, however foreign trade continued to significantly expand. 
The first modern submersible was built by Cornelius Drebbel, a Dutchman in the service of James I of England in 1620. Its exact design is not known but improved versions were tested in the River Thames between 1620 and 1624.
England's first known navy was established by Alfred the Great which, despite inflicting a significant defeat on the Vikings in the Wantsum Channel, Kent, fell into disuse. It was revived by Athelstan and had 400 ships in 937. When the Norman invasion was imminent, King Harold had trusted his navy to prevent William the Conqueror's fleet from crossing the Channel. However, not long before the invasion, the fleet was damaged in a storm, driven into harbour and the Normans were able to cross unopposed.
The Norman kings created a naval force in 1155, or adapted a force that already existed, with ships provided by the Cinque Ports. The English Navy began to develop during the 12th and 13th centuries, King John having a fleet of 500 sails. In the mid 14th century Edward III's navy had 712 ships. There then followed a period of decline.
Until the time of Henry VII, the kings of England commandeered and armed merchant ships when there was a need for a navy. Henry started a programme of building specialised warships. By the end of his reign there were five royal ships, two being four-masted carracks that were much larger than the usual English merchant ship. By the time that Henry VIII died in 1547 the navy had been built up to about 40 ships. The invention of gunport meant that guns could be carried much lower in a ship and so more and heavier ones could be carried. In addition a warship carried archers who tried to kill the enemy crew. However the king still needed to borrow some ships to fight sea battles. Henry VIII started new shipbuilding yards at Deptford and Woolwich Dockyard. He had two major ships: the Henri Grâce à Dieu and the Mary Rose , which later sank.
Neither James I or Charles I was willing to spend money on the navy. It became too weak to defend the coast from Barbary pirates.
During the Commonwealth of England, Oliver Cromwell improved the navy. Admiral Robert Blake led the English fleet to victory in the First Anglo–Dutch War. After the restoration of the monarchy, Charles II continued to reform the navy. The king's brother, later James II, was for many years the Lord High Admiral. Samuel Pepys became Clerk of the Acts to the King's Ships and reformed the supply service to the Navy. He also instigated examinations for commanders, pursers, surgeons and parsons.
In the late 13th century the Northern and Western Fleets were commanded by admirals and the post of "Lord Admiral of England" was created in 1408 but the Admiralty was set up in March 1545 as the King's Council of the Marine. It was responsible for Navy operations and the ship's officers. The First Lord of the Admiralty is a civilian and a member of the Government.
The first Fighting Instructions were issued in 1653 and Sailing Instructions in 1673.
During the Hundred Years' War (1337–1453) the French fleet was initially stronger than that of the English, but the former was almost completely destroyed at the Battle of Sluys in 1340. Many other sea battles were fought in this period.
The Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of Alonso de Guzmán El Bueno, 7th Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588. It was sent by King Philip II of Spain to take the Duke of Parma's army from the Spanish Netherlands to a landing in southeast England. The Armada consisted of about 130 warships and converted merchant ships. After forcing its way up the English Channel, being attacked by the English fleet of about 200 vessels, it anchored off the coast at Gravelines waiting for the army. A fire ship attack drove the Spanish ships from their safe anchorage. The Armada was blown north up the east coast of England and attempted to return to Spain by sailing around Scotland but many ships were wrecked off Ireland. The Spanish sent a smaller fleet, about 100 ships, the following year but this ran into stormy weather off Cornwall and was blown back to Spain.
The English sent a fleet of warships to Spain in 1589 led by Sir Francis Drake. This caused a further weakening of the Spanish fleet but failed to strike a decisive blow. A further raid was made in 1596. The Anglo-Spanish war was concluded by the Treaty of London in 1604. The peace enabled the British to consolidate their hold on Ireland and make a concerted effort to establish colonies in North America.
The First Anglo–Dutch War was fought between 1652 and 1653. Battles were fought at Dungeness, Portland, the Gabbard and Scheveningen. In the last of these the Dutch commander Maarten Tromp was killed but his acting flag captain kept up fleet morale by not lowering Tromp's standard. In the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-7) Cornelis Tromp prevented a total catastrophe for the Dutch by taking over fleet command to allow the escape of the greater part of the fleet. The war proved to be a victory for the Dutch, after which the Dutch Navy became the world's strongest, continuing domination over world trade.
Shipbuilding in England started in the many small creeks and rivers around the coast. A 14 m x 4 m Anglo-Saxon cargo boat (about 900 AD) was found at Graveney, Kent. A 13th century ship has been found at Magor Pill on the River Severn.
Originally open, ships began to have decks around the 12th century. Rudders were fitted on the stern by 1200 rather than the quarters as previously. In 1416 the king's ship "Anne" had two masts while the "Edward" was built in 1466 with three. Topsails were added by 1460, then a spritsail under a bowsprit. By 1510 a large warship had 12 sails but usually there were four.
By 1500 there were about 60 types of vessel, mostly cogs with deep hulls. However, from about 1450 "carvels" began to be built, based on the Portuguese caravel. These had non-overlapping planks on a frame. Gunports became used in the mid 16th century. The main type of English galleon had a low bow, a sleek hull and a large number of heavy guns. It was both speedy and maneuverable.
In the 16th century the Thames region had become the main shipbuilding area. Royal Dockyards were built and the Honourable East India Company also had shipbuilding facilities there. The East India Company built large well-defended ships which became known as "East Indiamen".
The Mary Rose was built in Portsmouth for Henry VIII between 1509 and 1511. She was the flagship of his navy and was one of the first with gunports. She was rebuilt in 1536. Mary Rose sank on 19 July 1545 off Portsmouth as she was leaving for an engagement with a French fleet that had attacked the English coast. Her remains were discovered in the 19th century but it was not until 1982 that she was raised from the seabed. Many artifacts were recovered and these are now on display in Portsmouth at the Royal Dockyard together with the ship's remains.
Privateers have a commission in the form of a "letter of marque" authorising the capture of enemy ships, while pirates do not. Both are robbery at sea or sometimes attacks from the sea onto shore. In 937 Irish pirates sided with Scots, Vikings and Welsh in an invasion of England but were driven back by Athelstan.
An Englishman called William Maurice was convicted of piracy in 1241 and is the first person known to have been hanged, drawn and quartered. In the Medieval period piracy was widespread and most pirate attacks came from France, which led to the organisation of the Cinque Ports.
Until 1536 piracy was a civil law problem and difficult to prove but it then became a common law offence. In the 1550s English gentlemen opposed to the reign of Phillip and Mary took refuge in France and were active in the English Channel as privateers having gained ships, money and men with letters of marque from Henry II of France. Six of their vessels were captured off Plymouth in 1556. Some of these men went on to assume positions of authority under Queen Elizabeth, such as Edward Horsey. The Sea Beggars (Geuzen) were a small group of Protestant noblemen in Queen Elizabeth's time and who were determined to drive the Spanish out of the Netherlands. They were led by William the Silent.
Queen Elizabeth allowed attacks on the Spanish but tried to prevent war. Gentlemen, merchants and sea captains combined to fit out ships. Perhaps the most famous English privateer was Sir Francis Drake, one of many operating against the Spanish treasure fleet. Thomas Cavendish was another and obtained valuable charts of the East during a circumnavigation.
Barbary pirates came from North Africa to attack shipping. In 1621 an expedition to North Africa was made against the Barbary pirates. In 1655 Blake routed them and started a campaign against them in the Caribbean.
Sir Henry Morgan, Captain William Kidd and Edward Teach (Blackbeard) were just three of the many English pirate leaders who operated in the Atlantic and Caribbean in the 17th century. In 1700 an Act of Parliament was passed to try pirates in Vice Admiral's Courts.
A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake-borne, riverine, littoral, or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions. It includes anything conducted by surface ships, amphibious ships, submarines, and seaborne aviation, as well as ancillary support, communications, training, and other fields. The strategic offensive role of a navy is projection of force into areas beyond a country's shores. The strategic defensive purpose of a navy is to frustrate seaborne projection-of-force by enemies. The strategic task of the navy also may incorporate nuclear deterrence by use of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Naval operations can be broadly divided between riverine and littoral applications, open-ocean applications, and something in between, although these distinctions are more about strategic scope than tactical or operational division.
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable goods. Those who conduct acts of piracy are called pirates, vessels used for piracy are pirate ships. The earliest documented instances of piracy were in the 14th century BC, when the Sea Peoples, a group of ocean raiders, attacked the ships of the Aegean and Mediterranean civilisations. Narrow channels which funnel shipping into predictable routes have long created opportunities for piracy, as well as for privateering and commerce raiding. Historic examples include the waters of Gibraltar, the Strait of Malacca, Madagascar, the Gulf of Aden, and the English Channel, whose geographic structures facilitated pirate attacks. The term piracy generally refers to maritime piracy, although the term has been generalized to refer to acts committed on land, in the air, on computer networks, and, outer space. Piracy usually excludes crimes committed by the perpetrator on their own vessel, as well as privateering, which implies authorization by a state government.
A privateer is a private person or ship that engages in maritime warfare under a commission of war. Since robbery under arms was a common aspect of seaborne trade, until the early 19th century all merchant ships carried arms. A sovereign or delegated authority issued commissions, also referred to as a letter of marque, during wartime. The commission empowered the holder to carry on all forms of hostility permissible at sea by the usages of war. This included attacking foreign vessels and taking them as prizes, and taking prize crews as prisoners for exchange. Captured ships were subject to condemnation and sale under prize law, with the proceeds divided by percentage between the privateer's sponsors, shipowners, captains and crew. A percentage share usually went to the issuer of the commission.
The First Anglo-Dutch War, or simply the First Dutch War, was a conflict fought entirely at sea between the navies of the Commonwealth of England and the United Provinces of the Netherlands. It was largely caused by disputes over trade, and English historians also emphasise political issues. The war began with English attacks on Dutch merchant shipping, but expanded to vast fleet actions. Although the English Navy won most of these battles, they only controlled the seas around England, and after the tactical English victory at Scheveningen, the Dutch used smaller warships and privateers to capture numerous English merchant ships. Therefore, by November 1653 Cromwell was willing to make peace, provided the House of Orange was excluded from the office of Stadtholder. Cromwell also attempted to protect English trade against Dutch competition by creating a monopoly on trade between England and her colonies. It was the first of the four Anglo-Dutch Wars.
The Anglo–Dutch Wars were a series of conflicts mainly fought between the Dutch Republic and England from mid-17th to late 18th century. The first three wars occurred in the second half of the 17th century over trade and overseas colonies, while the fourth was fought a century later. Almost all the battles were naval engagements.
The era of piracy in the Caribbean began in the 1500s and phased out in the 1830s after the navies of the nations of Western Europe and North America with colonies in the Caribbean began combating pirates. The period during which pirates were most successful was from the 1660s to 1730s. Piracy flourished in the Caribbean because of the existence of pirate seaports such as Port Royal in Jamaica, Tortuga in Haiti, and Nassau in the Bahamas. Piracy in the Caribbean was part of a larger historical phenomenon of piracy, as it existed close to major trade and exploration routes in almost all the five oceans.
The Spanish Navy or officially, the Armada, is the maritime branch of the Spanish Armed Forces and one of the oldest active naval forces in the world. The Spanish Navy was responsible for a number of major historic achievements in navigation, the most famous being the discovery of America and the first global circumnavigation by Elcano. For several centuries, it played a crucial logistical role in the expansion and consolidation of the Spanish Empire, and defended a vast trade network across the Atlantic Ocean between the Americas and Europe, and the Manila Galleon across the Pacific Ocean between the Philippines and the Americas.
The Bermuda sloop is a historical type of fore-and-aft rigged single-masted sailing vessel developed on the islands of Bermuda in the 17th century. Such vessels originally had gaff rigs with quadrilateral sails, but evolved to use the Bermuda rig with triangular sails. Although the Bermuda sloop is often described as a development of the narrower-beamed Jamaica sloop, which dates from the 1670s, the high, raked masts and triangular sails of the Bermuda rig are rooted in a tradition of Bermudian boat design dating from the earliest decades of the 17th century. It is distinguished from other vessels with the triangular Bermuda rig, which may have multiple masts or may not have evolved in hull form from the traditional designs.
Naval warfare is combat in and on the sea, the ocean, or any other battlespace involving a major body of water such as a large lake or wide river. Battles have been fought on water for more than 3,000 years.
The Spanish treasure fleet, or West Indies Fleet, was a convoy system of sea routes organized by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 1790, which linked Spain with its territories in the Americas across the Atlantic. The convoys were general purpose cargo fleets used for transporting a wide variety of items, including agricultural goods, lumber, various metal resources such as silver and gold, gems, pearls, spices, sugar, tobacco, silk, and other exotic goods from the overseas territories of the Spanish Empire to the Spanish mainland. Spanish goods such as oil, wine, textiles, books and tools were transported in the opposite direction.
The Royal Scots Navy was the navy of the Kingdom of Scotland from its origins in the Middle Ages until its merger with the Kingdom of England's Royal Navy per the Acts of Union 1707. There are mentions in Medieval records of fleets commanded by Scottish kings in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. King Robert I, developed naval power to counter the English in the Wars of Independence (1296–1328), and after the establishment of Scottish independence continued to build up naval capacity. In the late fourteenth century naval warfare with England was conducted largely by hired Scots, Flemish and French merchantmen and privateers. King James I, took a greater interest in naval power establishing a shipbuilding yard at Leith and probably created the office of Lord High Admiral.
East Indiaman was a general name for any sailing ship operating under charter or licence to any of the East India trading companies of the major European trading powers of the 17th through the 19th centuries. The term is used to refer to vessels belonging to the Austrian, Danish, Dutch, English, French, Portuguese, or Swedish companies.
The Golden Age of Piracy is a common designation for the period between the 1650s and the 1730s, when maritime piracy was a significant factor in the histories of the North Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Maritime history is the study of human interaction with and activity at sea. It covers a broad thematic element of history that often uses a global approach, although national and regional histories remain predominant. As an academic subject, it often crosses the boundaries of standard disciplines, focusing on understanding humankind's various relationships to the oceans, seas, and major waterways of the globe. Nautical history records and interprets past events involving ships, shipping, navigation, and seafarers.
The Maritime history of Europe represents the era of recorded human interaction with the sea in the northwestern region of Eurasia in areas that include shipping and shipbuilding, shipwrecks, naval battles, and military installations and lighthouses constructed to protect or aid navigation and the development of Europe. Europe is situated between several navigable seas and intersected by navigable rivers running into them in a way which greatly facilitated the influence of maritime traffic and commerce. Great battles have been fought in the seas off of Europe that changed the course of history forever, including the Battle of Salamis in the Mediterranean, the Battle of Gravelines at the eastern end of the English Channel in the summer of 1588, in which the “Invincible” Spanish Armada was defeated, the Battle of Jutland in World War I, and World War II’s U-boat war.
The North Sea has an extensive history of maritime commerce, resource extraction, and warfare between among the people and nations on its coasts.
The Maritime history of the United Kingdom involves events including shipping, ports, navigation, and seamen, as well as marine sciences, exploration, trade, and maritime themes in the arts from the creation of the kingdom of Great Britain as a united, sovereign state, on 1 May 1707 in accordance with the Treaty of Union, signed on 22 July 1706. Until the advent of air transport and the creation of the Channel Tunnel, marine transport was the only way of reaching the British Isles. For this reason, maritime trade and naval power have always had great importance.
Singeing the King of Spain's Beard is the derisive name given to a series of attacks by the English privateer Francis Drake against the Spanish in the summer of 1587, beginning in April with a raid on Cádiz. This was an attack on the Spanish naval forces assembling in the Bay of Cádiz in preparation for the planned expedition against England. Much of the Spanish fleet was destroyed, and substantial supplies were destroyed or captured. There followed a series of raiding parties against several forts along the Portuguese coast. A Spanish treasure ship, returning from the Indies, was also captured. The damage caused by the English delayed Spanish preparations for the Armada by at least a year.
The Channel Islands are a group of islands off the coast of France. The largest island is Jersey, followed by Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, and a number of smaller islands, islets and rocky outcrops. The islands were separated from mainland Europe with rising sea levels in the Neolithic period; thereafter maritime activity commenced.
The official history of the Royal Navy began with the establishment of the Navy Royal by Henry VIII in 1546. The modern incarnation of the institution re-emerged as the national naval force of the Kingdom of England in 1660, following the Restoration of King Charles II to the throne. However, for more than a thousand years before that there had been English naval forces varying in type and organization. In 1707 it became the naval force of the Kingdom of Great Britain after the Union between England and Scotland which merged the English navy with the much smaller Royal Scots Navy, although the two had begun operating together from the time of the Union of the Crowns in 1603.