Elizabethan Era

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Jacobean Era

Sinking of Mary Rose Ship in Tudor Times

The Mary Rose was not just any ship; she was the flag ship of Henry VIII new navy. Previously when the country had gone to war, merchant vessels were called to the defence of their country and fitted out with guns for that purpose. Henry knew that with the hostilities ongoing with Scotland and with France that he would need an 'army of the sea', fit for the purpose of defending the country.

Flag Ship Mary Rose

The Mary Rose was one of two new designs of vessel commissioned by the king, and was constructed between 1509 - 1511, not only would the ship be a symbol of his status and the wealth of his country, the size and power of the vessel would strike fear into the heart of any opponent. Until the building of the Mary Rose and her sister ship, vessels of this size and power had never before been seen. Henry saw to the establishing of two new Royal Shipyards at Deptford and Woolwich and saw that his 'army of the sea' was created to service the military needs of the country. This lead to him being regarded as the 'Father of the Navy' as until this time England had never had such an imposing maritime presence.

Sinking of Mary Rose Ship

There is a myth that the Mary Rose sunk on her first voyage, this is simply not true. The fact is that she served in the navy of the king, taking part in many battles across more than three decades before she sank in the Solent. There are many theories that have been aired about why she sank. Some say that she was so heavily laden that the gun ports were too low and that the ship took on too much water. This is not too far from the truth.

The Mary Rose went down on 19th July 1545. It was evening time and the Mary Rose had led the English fleet out of the harbour at Portsmouth with King Henry watching the proceedings. She came under fire and turned about. Unfortunately there was a strong gust of wind at the same time she made her manoeuvre and her gun-ports had not been closed which meant that she took on more water than expected when she turned.

The majority of the crew were drowned in the tragedy as they were unable to leap overboard due to the boarding netting which had been put in place. The netting was used to stop attackers from the French vessels boarding the Mary Rose at close quarters, but effectively trapped all hands on the deck.

Salvaging Mary Rose Ship Artefacts

A number of the guns from the Mary Rose have been salvaged, many of which were brought to the surface during the 1800's. It was during the 1980's that the remains of the Mary Rose were raised from the sea bed. When she was brought to the surface it was found that there were more than 22,000 artefacts still on board, providing an incredible insight into the weapons, equipment and life of the crew on board the ship.

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