Re: [MedievalSawdust] Digest Number 1007
- I believe M'lord Avery has made some rather large assumptions.First, HMS Victory was the flagship of King George's Navy--about 200 years out of period. Drawing any conclusions from it about medieval shipboard life would be like touring the USS Reagan to see what shipboard life was like in the Civil War.Secondly, the length of voyages were probably short most of the time, because trans-ocean crossings were so rare. But there were many times when that was not true. IIRC, after Sir Francis Drake defeated the Spanish Armada the Royal Treasury realized that there were insuffient funds to pay the crews. Since pay wasn't due until the crew returned to port, the fleet was kept at sea for several months.I'm not saying that your assumptions are incorrect. I'm saying that without some evidence we simply don't know one way or the other.
Su criado humilde,
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- Greetings All,
I am currently reading an excellent book on the British Navy,
"To Rule The Waves" by Arthur Herman, which goes back to
before the actual Royal navy. So how far back do we want to
go? Just slightly pre-1600 we have Drake leaving on 9/14/1585,
and arriving at Santo Domingo on 1/1/1586 via what is referred
to as "the by-now-familiar route to the Indies". Though Drake
and his crew were hardly common sailors. But this does say
something about times and distances. On the other hand, fisherman
had been working the Grand Banks since the early 1500's. Also,
comments such as "By 1588 English sailors were making regular runs
to America, Russia, Asia, around the Cape of Africa, and above the
Regarding the numbers aboard, there is a description of the Spanish
Armada, hardly a typical voyage, mainly a means of transporting
great quantities of men across the channel to invade Britain. Over
130 ships and 30,000 men. The ships varying in size from 20
galleons to merchantmen. By comparison, the Golden Hind
(built about 1574) was 150-ton, 70-feet long, 19-feet wide and
carried 80-85 men.
This should be enough data for someone to engage in interesting
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, May 04, 2006 6:03 PM
Subject: [MedievalSawdust] Digest Number 1007
> Message 1
> From: "Avery Austringer" avery1415@...
> Date: Wed May 3, 2006 2:34pm(PDT)
> Subject: Shipboard Conditions
> Now Charles - you you would have come to Elizabeth's Kingdom with me
> (rather than the Magic Kingdom) you'd know all about this. :)
> Oh the HMS Victory, some of the officers had beds - mostly they had
> hammocks. The bed's, incidentally, sounded an awful lot like the
> wicker construct that was described earlier, but were made of wood.
> They also, aparently doubled as your coffin if you died at sea. (I'm
> not sure why they thought you needed a coffin - maybe fish like the
> The question I have is, how much evidence would hammocks leave vs how
> much beds would leave? Given what a full crew looked like and as
> cramped as the Victory was, giving everyone a bed would have left
> little room for things like guns and masts, much less working space
> around them.
> The other question I have is how long were sailors actually ship board
> in the middle ages? Most of our impresion of shipboard life comes from
> an era when trans-Atlantic voyages were a regular thing. Most medieval
> sailors were probably never more than 300 miles from dry land.
- Hey Corin!!!This is interestin'...Yea... I've been digging to see what I could find with regard to 'crew accomodations'... best I've been able to determine at this point is that hammocks are a South American invention that was one of those things that Columbus fellow 'discovered'...Oviedo came to America in 1514 and spent the next 30 years documenting the goods, products, etc. of the natives.... In 1535 he illustrated the "hamaca". "The indians sleep in a bed they call an 'hamaca' which looks like a piece of cloth with both an open and tight weave, like a net ... made of cotton ... about 2.5 or 3 yards long, with many henequen twine strings at either end which can be hung at any height. They are good beds, and clean ... and since the weather is warm they require no covers at all ... and they are portable so a child can carry it over the arm. "The article later goes on to say, "The hammock was perfected in the Caribbean and Brazil and was first introduced to Europeans during Columbus' first voyage of 1492."So... LATE 1400's/early 1500's is the absolute earliest they could have been used on ships...Now, I haven't found any accounts yet of how the crew DID quarter themselves... but... we'er workin' on that...Chas.