Tudor ships were extremely sturdy and huge. The main purpose was to make them durable enough to survive the rough conditions in the oceans. The ships were primarily used for two reasons, namely, for defending the kingdom and secondly for carrying out expeditions. Merchants were also motivated to use ships for trade purposes. The movement of the wind controlled the mobility of the ships.
Henry VII was the only king to have made efforts to have a strong fleet of ships for defense. It is said that King Henry VIII allocated a generous amount of money to help in building large quantities of ships. It is believed that he had inherited around 15 ships and he pursued his mission of expanding the fleet of ships.
Tudor ships were called galleons and were high. Also, they were narrow in breadth. The ships were believed to be 20 feet in width and 75 feet in length. The size of the ships made them slow while sailing.
It was for the first time during the reign of King Henry VIII that special arrangements were made to fit the cannons which were placed in the sides of the ships. The Spanish and Portuguese ships inspired the British to have a mechanism to place the cannons in the ship.
Guns were also stored on the ships during Tudor era. During the rule of King Henry VIII, cannons made from bronze were used. These were very durable but also expensive. These cannons were heavy and were also responsible for slowing down the ship.
Queen Elizabeth I carried forward her father's passion of building a strong navy. One of the significant events in history of Tudors was the Anglo-Spanish war fought during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It was during this war that the actual strength of the English ships was put to test. In the end, English ships over-powered the Spanish with the result that only 60 ships returned to Spain out of the several hundred's that had set sailing to invade England.
English ships captured and took away huge quantities of gold and silver from other ships. Cast iron cannons were introduced during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. These were cheap and thus could be made in larger quantities to suffice the need of the navy during war-time. Under the Tudor rule, there were around 45 ships in the navy by 1540. The Royal Navy was thus founded and strengthened during the Tudor rule.
Tudor monarchs also supported expeditions to discovery new sea-routes for trade. Here again, ships played a pivotal role. Although the ships looked bulky in size, living on the ship for several months at a stretch was not an easy task. The main problem was that there was very little space available for the men or sailors to accommodate themselves.
The reason is that thousands of men would be called in to defend the country. All had to survive in the compact space of the ship. Normally before going on sailing, the troops would stock up the food supply, even carry live animals. Thus, living on a ship was not easy.