Naval by destek6


More Info
									<b>Naval Warfare<b>

The need for warships in the Mediterranean Sea largely faded after the
Romans gained complete control of the surrounding lands. There was no
other empire with a navy to offer competition, and piracy was all but
eliminated. Following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, new
civilizations sprang up from the ruins of the empire and piracy
reappeared. Warships were needed again to defend against invasion,
project military power, and protect sea trade routes.

<i>Byzantine Ships<i>

The Byzantines were the great Mediterranean naval power of the early
Middle Ages. Naval power was critical to their survival and to their
extended empire. The land defenses of Constantinople were excellent and
made outright assault of the city very difficult, but the city had to
keep its sea supply open to prevent a successful siege. So long as the
navy could bring in supplies, the city was assured of survival.

The main Byzantine warship of the early Middle Ages was the dromen, an
evolution of the ancient oared warships, such as the trireme. A typical
dromen was long and narrow for speed. Power was supplied by 50 to 200
rowers and lateen sails. A mast was placed in the middle of the front
half and rear half of the ship. The dromen carried a beak at the bow for
pinning enemy vessels prior to boarding. Rams were rarely seen. Platforms
were built in the center, bow, and stern. From these platforms archers
and catapults could fire at enemy ships and crews. A typical battle
involved attempts to ram or disable enemy ships, then grappling and
boarding by marines.

The Byzantines effectively used a secret weapon called Greek fire. This
was a mixture of chemicals that burned fiercely upon contact with air. It
was pumped out of hoses against enemy ships or thrown in bombs. It was a
devastating weapon against wooden ships and decisive for the Byzantines
in their naval battles against the Arabs. The secret of Greek fire was so
important and so closely guarded that it was eventually lost and we do
not know today exactly what it was.

<i>Mediterranean Ships<i>

Oar-powered warships, called galleys, remained the principal warships of
the Mediterranean beyond the end of the Middle Ages because the waters
were relatively protected from fierce gales. At the same time, the
Italian city-states of Genoa and Venice gradually became naval powers in
proportion to the increasing importance of their trade with the Levant.
The Arabs also built navies to influence trade and support their conflict
with the Byzantines and other Christians for control of the
Mediterranean. The beginning of the Crusades in the eleventh century
brought ships from Northern Europe that had evolved very different

<i>European Ships<i>
The Germanic tribes that occupied Northern Europe around 500 developed
several new ship types. The typical trading ship was wide-bodied and of
deep draft. It mounted a single mast at first and later more as it grew
in size. The Norse called this type of ship a knarr. We know a lot about
this ship today because one was recovered from the bottom of a harbor in
Denmark in the 1960s. Much of the trade and exploration of the Anglo-
Saxons and Vikings was carried on in this type of ship. It evolved into
the cog, the principal merchant ship of the later Middle Ages. This deep-
draft ship was designed for easy sailing and high cargo capacity.

Ship fighting in northern Europe was mainly an extension of land combat.
Towers were built on the bow and stern of the cog for protection and as
firing platforms for archers. Crews fired at each other with arrows as
they closed, but the intent was only to disable enemy crewmen and
soldiers. Ships came together and attempted to capture each other in
hand-to-hand combat. Sailing ships in these waters had no ability to ram.
There was no weapon with which to do great structural damage to another
ship or sink it until cannon appeared in the fourteenth century. Some 400
English and French cog-type warships carrying large contingents of
archers and foot soldiers engaged in a naval battle at Sluys in 1340
typical of the later Middle Ages. They simply jammed together for archery
fire and close combat.

The first cannon were mounted in the bow or stern of ships. Small cannon
mounted on the side rails were used against enemy crews. The English ship
Christopher of the Tower of 1406 was the first built purposely to carry
guns. Ships began to mount broadsides of cannon with the ability to
puncture enemy hulls only at the very end of the Middle Ages.

The Viking longship was more of a transport than a warship. Vikings
rarely fought from their longships. When they did, there are reports of
boats being lashed together to provide a platform for hand-to-hand
fighting. The longship was powered by oars until the eighth or ninth
century when sails appear to have been added. Although they looked
fragile and unlikely vessels for ocean travel, modern replicas proved to
be very seaworthy. The additional range provided by sails explains
partially why the Vikings began reaching out to raid in the ninth

The Irish curragh was a small boat used mainly for coastal trading and
travel but capable of deep ocean sailing also. This boat was built of
animal hides stretched over a wooden frame. The hide skin was sealed with
pitch for waterproofing. These incredibly light boats were powered with a
small sail or could be rowed. In rough weather the hide covering could be
closed to make the boat watertight and relatively unsinkable. Irish monks
explored the North Atlantic in these boats and reached Iceland long
before the Vikings. There are unsubstantiated tales that monks sailed to
the New World as well.

The Crusades brought northern ships into the Mediterranean and contact
between the sailors and shipbuilders of north and south. The southerners
began adopting features of the cog, including its big hull and square
sail. The northerners learned about the compass, stern rudder, and lateen
<i>Chinese Ships<i>

The greatest shipbuilders of the Middle Ages were probably the Chinese.
The familiar Chinese junk was a better ship than anything available in
the West for many centuries. It was an excellent combination of cargo
space, sailing ability, and seaworthiness. In 1405, Chinese Admiral Cheng
Ho built a huge navy manned by 25,000 men and explored much of the
Southwest Pacific and Indian Oceans. The rulers of China disdained this
feat and its discoveries. The greatest ships in the world at the time
were beached and allowed to rot.

To top