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England's Medieval Navy 1066-1509 (Hardback)

Ships, Men & Warfare

Medieval History Seaforth Colour Books

By Susan Rose
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 208
ISBN: 9781848321373
Published: 6th November 2013

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We are accustomed to think of England in terms of Shakespeare's 'precious stone set in a silver sea', safe behind its watery ramparts with its naval strength resisting all invaders. To the English of an earlier period – from the 8th to the 11th centuries – such a notion would have seemed ridiculous. The sea, rather than being a defensive wall, was a highway by which successive waves of invaders arrived, bringing destruction and fear in their wake.

Deploying a wide range of sources, this new book looks at how English kings after the Norman Conquest learnt to use the Navy of England, a term which at this time included all vessels whether Royal or private and no matter what their ostensible purpose – to increase and safety and prosperity of the kingdom. The design and building of ships and harbour facilities, the development of navigation, ship handling, and the world of the seaman are all described, while comparisons with the navies of England's closest neighbours, with particular focus on France and Scotland, are made, and notable battles including Damme, Dover, Sluys and La Rochelle included to explain the development of battle tactics and the use of arms during the period.

The author shows, in this lucid and enlightening narrative, how the unspoken aim of successive monarchs was to begin to build 'the wall' of England, its naval defences, with a success which was to become so apparent in later centuries.

Impossible to put down!

David B. Clement

Altogether this is a fascinating and very comprehensive overview, which frankly I found impossible to put down. Susan Rose has done the world of maritime history an enormous service in producing this carefully researched and most comprehensive work.

South West Soundings

The title focuses on many fundamentally important issues related to the emergence of a state navy and is richly illustrated with many well chosen images.

Forum Navale

This is an excellent study of a somewhat neglected period of English naval history.

History of War

Provides a good focus on a period of English naval history, which is often overlooked as naval historians tend to concentrate much more on later, dramatic events. Well recommended.

Scuttlebutt - Journal of the Friends of the Royal Naval Museum

Traditionally, England's status as an island has resulted in a perception of the sea as a barrier, a natural defence against invasion. This was not always so. In this fascinating book, Susan Rose charts the change in attitude from regarding the sea as something to be feared following the Viking onslaughts to the perception of a defensible barrier by early Tudor times. She looks at the work of shipwrights, the naval installations set up along the coasts, navigators, sailors and victuallers that were needed to maintain a medieval navy. Battles in the Channel are recounted and naval strategy discussed - as is the role of the navy accompanying Richard I on Crusade into the Mediterranean. By studying the battles, she shows how tactics developed and how the use of arms changed during the period 1066-1509. Above all, the book focuses on the way in which English Kings learned to use a navy effectively to increase the safety and prosperity of the kingdom. The research has been extremely thorough and detailed, and the writing style is extremely readable. Illustrations are well chosen and help to emphasise the points being made. A good book which will be enjoyed by historians, military historians and the general reader alike. 4 stars

Angela Youngman - monstersandcritics.com

A very readable book.

International Association of Cape Horners

About Susan Rose

SUSAN ROSE’s interest in medieval maritime history was sparked by the account book of William Soper, Clerk of the King’s Ship 1422-27. Subsequently, she has written a number of books including Medieval Naval Warfare, The Medieval Sea and The Wine Trade in Medieval Europe, while articles include contributions in Medieval Ships and Warfare (2008).

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