If any foreign minister begins to defend to the death a “peace conference,” you can be sure his government has already placed its orders for new battleships… Joseph Stalin


Ambrose Bierce from Devil’s Dictionary

ULTIMATUM, n. In diplomacy, a last demand before resorting to concessions.

Having received an ultimatum from Austria, the Turkish Ministry met to consider it.

“O servant of the Prophet,” said the Sheik of the Imperial Chibouk to the Mamoosh of the Invincible Army, “how many unconquerable soldiers have we in arms?”

“Upholder of the Faith,” that dignitary replied after examining his memoranda, “they are in numbers as the leaves of the forest!”

“And how many impenetrable battleships strike terror to the hearts of all Christian swine?” he asked the Imaum of the Ever Victorious Navy.

“Uncle of the Full Moon,” was the reply, “deign to know that they are as the waves of the ocean, the sands of the desert and the stars of Heaven!”

For eight hours the broad brow of the Sheik of the Imperial Chibouk was corrugated with evidences of deep thought: he was calculating the chances of war. Then, “Sons of angels,” he said, “the die is cast! I shall suggest to the Ulema of the Imperial Ear that he advise inaction. In the name of Allah, the council is adjourned.””

Warships started out as transports – how do you get the necessary number of men, arms and supplies to wherever it is you want to fight. Naval battles were a matter of marines boarding ships and subduing the crew or destroying the ship. Even in the age of the long bow capturing an enemy vessel depended in large part on close quarter combat. The invention of the cannon changed that forever. It was now possible to stand off and destroy your opponent without ever boarding his ship. It was the introduction of this technology that allowed the ascendency of the West over islam and the rest of the undeveloped world. Until the invention of naval aviation the ship would reign supreme and the battleship would be the monarch of the seas – this is the story of the earliest battleships.

The immediate predecessor of the ship of the line a Venetian galley at Lepanto when the west was saved from the muslim world

Sovereigns of the sea : the quest to build the perfect Renaissance battleship    Hoboken, N.J. : J. Wiley & Sons, c 2008  Angus Konstam Warships Design and construction 16th century Hardcover. xiv, 338 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 309-328) and index.  Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG  

The Sovereign of the Seas – the most famous English ship of the line before HMS Victory

The story of the ultimate war ship in Sovereigns of the Sea: The Quest to Build the Perfect Renaissance Battleship, chronicles the history of Sovereign of the Seas, an immensely powerful floating fortress. The story of the first modern naval arms race, when European monarchs vied with each other to build the biggest and most prestigious warship afloat and started a cycle that created and ruined empires, changed the map of the world, and led Europe out of the Renaissance and into the Modern age.

Le Soleil Royale – the French answer

It is set at a time when the technologies of shipbuilding and gun-founding were being transformed – a revolutionary period in the way ships were designed and used. For the first time guns were being carried on board warships, and although it took time, the new weapon would completely transform the way sea battles were fought, and won from the first marriage of guns and ships in the mid-fifteenth-century to the grandiose national flagships two hundred years later that led to a new breed of battleship, the ship-of-the-line.

Santisima Trinidad – the Spanish answer

The Renaissance might well have been a time of great cultural and intellectual rebirth in Europe, spreading like ripples from its birthplace in Italy, but it was also a period of great political upheaval. Kingdoms such as France and England were turning their back on feudalism, and developing as nation states where power was safeguarded by centralised government and standing armies. It is against this fascinating backdrop that our story runs its course and the Sovereign of the Seas became the model for a whole new generation of warships that would dominate naval warfare until the advent of steam power the tale of the ships themselves and the story of shipbuilding, politics, and technological innovation during a crucial period of world history.

Provencien – the Dutch answer

Advertisements

Comments Off on If any foreign minister begins to defend to the death a “peace conference,” you can be sure his government has already placed its orders for new battleships… Joseph Stalin

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments are closed.