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A history of the administration of the Royal Navy and of merchant shipping in relation to the Navy from MDIX to MDCLX, with an introduction treating of the preceding period
The creation of the modern Royal Navy has been variously attributed to Henry VII, to Henry VIII, and to Elizabeth. Whichever sovereign may be considered entitled to the honour, the statement, as applied to either monarch, really means that modification of medival conditions, and adoption of improvements in construction and administration, which brought the Navy into the form familiar to us until the introduction of steam and iron. And in that sense no one sovereign can be accredited with its formation. The introduction of portholes in, or perhaps before the reign of Henry VII, differentiated the man-of-war, involved radical alterations in build and armament, and made the future line-of-battle ship possible; the establishment of the Navy Board by Henry VIII, made the organisation of fleets feasible and ensured a certain, if slow, progress because henceforward cumulative and, in the long run, independent of the energy and foresight of any one man under whom, as under Henry V, the Navy might largely advance, to sink back at his death into decay. Under Elizabeth the improvements in building and rigging constituted a step longer than had yet been taken towards the modern type, the Navy Board became an effectively working and flourishing institution, and the wars and voyages of her reign founded the school of successful seamanship of which was born the confidence, daring and self-reliance still prescriptive in the royal and merchant services. It is not the purpose of this work to deal with the history, of the Navy previous to the accession of Henry VIII, but no real line of demarcation can be drawn in naval more than in other history, and it will be necessary to briefly sketch the conditions generally existing before 1509, and in somewhat more detail, those relating to the fifteenth century. In the widest sense the first Saxon king who possessed galleys of his own may be said to have been the founder of the Royal Navy; in a narrower but truer sense, the Royal Navy as an appanage of imperial power, and an entity of steady growth, really dates from the Norman conquest. The Saxon navy although respectable by way of number, was essentially a coast defence force, mustered temporarily to answer momentary needs, and lacking continuity of existence and purpose. There is but one instance of a Saxon fleet being employed out of the four seas, that which Canute used in the conquest of Norway, and in it the Scandinavian element was probably larger than the Saxon. With the advent of William I, the channel, instead of remaining a boundary, became a means of communication between the divided dominions of one monarch, and a comparatively permanent and reliable naval force, both for military transport and for command of the passage between the insular and continental possessions of the Crown, became a necessity of royal policy. For nearly two centuries this duty was mainly performed by the men of the Cinque Ports who, in return for certain privileges and exemptions, were bound, at any moment, to place fifty-seven ships at the service of the Crown for fifteen days free of cost, and for as much longer time as the king required them at the customary rate of pay. These claims, practically constituting the Cinque Ports fleet a standing force, were ceaselessly exercised by successive monarchs, and, at first sight, such demands might seem to be destructive of that commercial progress which is the primary basis of the growth or maintenance of shipping. But the methods of warfare in those ages were more profitable than commerce, and the decay of the Ports was not due to poverty caused by the calls made upon their shipping for military purposes. The existence of the Cinque Ports service was indirectly a hindrance to the growth of a crown navy, since it was obviously cheaper for the king to order the Ports to act than to man and equip his own vessels; it was not until ships of larger size and stronger build than those belonging to the Ports were required, that the royal ships came into frequent use. As well as mobilising the Cinque Ports fleet, the sovereign was able to issue writs to arrest the ships of private owners throughout the kingdom, together with the necessary number of sailors, when rival fleets had to be fought or armies to be transported. The Normans, descendants of the Vikings, must have been better shipbuilders and better seamen than the Saxons, and the large number of nautical words that can be traced back to Norman French bear witness to improvements in rigging and handling due to them. The Crusades must have reacted on the English marine by bringing under the observation of our seamen the construction of ships belonging to the Mediterranean powers, then far in advance of the North in the art of shipbuilding. And during the century which followed the Conquest, the foreign trade, which is the nursery of shipping, was steadily growing. Under the Angevin kings the whole coast line of France, from Flanders to Bayonne, was, with the exception of Brittany, subject to English rule, and the inter-coast traffic that naturally followed was the greatest stimulus to maritime enterprise this country had yet experienced. The result was seen in the Crusade of 1190, when the fleet of Richard I for the Mediterranean was made up of vessels drawn from the ports of the empire, but many of them doubtless belonging to the continental possessions of the crown; and as John certainly possessed ships of his own, it may be inferred that Richard, and his predecessors also had some. When a general arrest was ordered, foreign ships were seized as well as English, and this practice continued as late as the first years of Elizabeth. Richard I issued, in 1190, regulations for the government of his fleet. These regulations doubtless only methodised customs already existing, and as they dealt with offences against life and property bear the mark of their commercial origin. Offences against discipline must have been punished by military law and military penalties, and required no new code. ......Buy Now (To Read More)
Ebook Number: 68713
Author: Oppenheim, M. (Michael)
Release Date: Aug 8, 2022
Publisher: John Lane
Publication Date: 1896
Publisher Country: United Kingdom
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