lwhitehead

some 17th Century help

12 posts in this topic

hi folks I need some 17th Century help for my Pirate/Privateer character based on Henry Morgan, I need to know 17th Century Criminal terms and Criminal types. The type of ships that were used and what type of steering as well.

LW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the question is so brief, it comes off as vague.

Henry Morgan was a buccaneer. Buccaneers tended more to land raids (that is a usual, not absolute), and mostly just used ships to get around the Caribbean to the ports they raided.

Criminal types, bandits, pirates, buccaneers, thieves, pick-pockets (or is that a later term, I am unsure)... The terms for the various styles of criminal elements could be a whole discussion topic on it's own.

Ships... Well, not my specialty. I know 18th century ship types better than I know 17th century types.

I might recommend, breaking down what it is you want to know into smaller chunks, and asking more focused questions. You will get a lot more, and better responses breaking things down into manageable portions rather than asking broad vague questions. I hope this helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As for steering, most smaller and medium sized ships would probably have been steered by a tiller. The larger ones may have utilized a whipstaff, much like a modern tiller extension on some racing sailboats, but directed vertically which allowed the tiller to be controlled from the deck above. The ship's wheel as we know it was not around until the early 18th Century. For the tiller, it is possible that for a larger vessel without a whipstaff, they may have also had a relieving tackle set up to assist.

Whipstaff setup:

quarters_whipstaff_ships_and_ways_of_oth

Relieving tackle setup (note- it appears that the end of this tiller is attached to a whipstaff as well, so the relieving tackle is likely backup in case the whipstaff is not functioning):

S7301091.jpg

Another relieving tackle on weather deck:

tallship_3-1024x720.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This was age of Swashbucklers as well, also Gunlocks on firearms how long before the likes of Snaplocks and Flintlocks turn up on common firearms?, Snaplocks were used in the English Civil War, But in the BBC Musketeer's TV series shown then using Matchlock Musket.

LW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok what about Buccaneers sources can you point me too?,

LW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The two best books I know of about buccaneers are Alexander Exquemelin's History of the Buccaneers of America and Jean-Baptiste Labat's The Memoirs of Pere Labat, 1693-1705. The first one is as common as dirt and can probably be gotten from Amazon for the cost of the printing. The second is more expensive and should probably be gotten through inter-library loan unless you're willing to shell out about 100 bucks for it.

As for Henry Morgan, there are dozens of books about him, some of them which can be found digitally on Google Books:

https://www.google.com/search?q=umberto+eco&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#tbm=bks&q=henry+morgan+-lewis

I can't speak for how good any of them are because my focus is more on golden age of piracy (1690-1725).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This was age of Swashbucklers as well, also Gunlocks on firearms how long before the likes of Snaplocks and Flintlocks turn up on common firearms?, Snaplocks were used in the English Civil War, But in the BBC Musketeer's TV series shown then using Matchlock Musket.

LW

I wouldn't use the BBC Musketeers series for any kind of historical background. It's not, and was never intended to be, historical.

The transition from matchlock to flintlock was a gradual one. In the mid 17th century most muskets were matchlocks, by the end of the century most were flintlock.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know that BBC Musketeers isn't very historical given the fact that Cardinal Richelieu is shown as a bad guy, I wanted to use Buccaneers timeframe which is 1660 to 1690 Henry Avery was a Pirate and a Buccaneer. This why Charles II had to rely on them so much, Cromwell Navy as good but Restoration was bad and corrupt.

The Dutch at the time had the very good Navy so good England copied it when Dutch William took over,

LW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The BBC Musketeers is barely at all historical.

Henry Every became a pirate in 1694.

The Restoration Navy was an interesting period of transition. Samuel Pepys probably did more for naval reform than anyone else before or since, and certainly more than anyone else in the seventeenth century. It also saw the introduction of professionalism in the Navy, largely due to the requirement (instituted by Pepys) for all captains to first serve as lieutenants, and for all prospective lieutenants to pass an exam before they could be commissioned. The Restoration's shipbuilding programme was extremely proactive, and Charles II's navy enjoyed some very fine admirals and other officers.

The Dutch Navy was very good, and in some respects ahead of the English Navy, but don't underestimate the English Navy. In the third Anglo-Dutch War neither side managed to inflict a defeat on their opponents at sea, despite tactical mismanagement by just about all the admirals involved. Earlier, although the Dutch ultimately won the second Anglo-Dutch War, the Royal Navy did inflict several defeats on the Dutch Navy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I respectfully disagree that the Dutch did not inflict defeats on the English during the Third Anglo-Dutch War. On the contrary, most of the battles of the war were Dutch victories. Also Dutch privateers were immensely effective against English commerce at home and abroad. Over 500 prizes were brought into Amsterdam alone during a two year time-frame.

The only reason the Battle of Solebay wasn't a complete disaster for the English and French was because the wind shifted halfway through the battle giving the allies "the weather gauge". The Dutch were significantly outnumbered (as usual) and while the battle was tactically indecisive, it was a strategic victory. The English also lost a 1st rate flagship the Royal James and their admiral Lord Edward Montegu 1st Earl of Sandwich was killed. The allied plan to blockade the Dutch was completely thwarted and the allied fleets forced to retire. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Solebay

The Battle of the Double Schooneveld was one of DeRuyter's most brilliant victories. Yeah maybe no ships were lost, but DeRuyter was again facing the combined allied English and French navies at the same time and was significantly outnumbered in this battle. The English made a lot of mistakes and DeRuyter showed his tactical brilliance. The Dutch broke the allied blockade and the allied fleets were driven from Dutch waters once again, the battle concluding off the English coast. The English navy was badly damaged. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Schooneveld

At the Battle of the Texel, a similar beginning occurred with the Dutch significantly outnumbered again. Although no significant ships were lost it was still a major strategic victory for the Dutch. The English and French navies were again driven off. No ships may have been lost but the casualties were high on the allied side with over 3,000 dead. If the English had won this battle it would have been over for the Netherlands as a sovereign country. This battle prevented the English from landing their army to assist the French who already occupied half of the Netherlands. It also allowed the Dutch VOC East India fleet to safely enter home ports. Protecting the spice fleet was essential for continued funding of the war as the French attacks and occupation had been financially ruinous for the Dutch. This battle was the final allied gamble and they lost. The French fearing German and Spanish invasion withdrew from Holland and the Treaty of Westminster ended the Third Anglo-Dutch War/Franco-Dutch War. DeRuyter essentially saved his homeland with this final battle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Texel

I suppose if you meant by defeat - a "tactical" defeat where one side was the clear winner over the other with much more damage and losses inflicted on one side, then I agree. However, there were only a few battles in the entire Anglo-Dutch wars that we can classify as decisive tactical defeats in that sense. The English enjoyed most of those tactical victories in the First Anglo-Dutch War and then there was of course The Battle of Lowestoft in the Second Anglo-Dutch war which was a great English victory and CRUSHING Dutch defeat - probably the worst of all the battles during those wars.

MK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I meant victories that were actually worth anything, "tactical" victories if you will. My point really was that we shouldn't think of the Dutch navy as being inherently superior to the English navy at that time. In some respects it certainly was, in other respects less so. There were not the kind of decisive victories that one could reasonably expect if there was any great disparity in the navies involved - if you see what I mean.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For arguments sake I actually believe the Dutch navy during the Third Anglo-Dutch War was indeed superior to the English navy at this time.

I believe that if the Dutch Navy had only had to face the English alone - and NOT the English and French navies combined, the English would have clearly lost.

I believe this for several reasons:

1. The English were in a bad way going into the 1670s. London had burned and was still being rebuilt. They were still recovering from the last great plague. Many English seamen had gone over to the Dutch because the English navy did not have a good reputation for making good on salary, payments or money's owed. In fact a known anecdote from after the famous debacle at the Battle of the Medway (1667) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raid_on_the_Medwaywhere after a month long blockade of the Thames, the Dutch raided up the river and landed 800 marines (a new thing at that time) burned the Royal dockyards at Chatham, burned a goodly portion of the laid up English navy capital ships and towed the 1st Rate flagship (Royal Charles) back to Amsterdam - that English sailors were noted on the Dutch ships for chanting as they sailed away, "No more worthless English tickets, we work for Dutch dollars now". That act forced the end of the Second Dutch War and the Treaty of Breda. Dutch privateering was also devastating on the English economy at the time.

This combined with the previous defeat at the Four Days Battle of 1666, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Days'_Battle(where three of England's admirals were killed) put the English navy in a sorry state.

The Dutch had 25,000 trading ships globally in the 1660s. Lord Clarendon bitterly complained to parliament that action needed to happen in order to narrow the trade gap. He convinced King Charles to start building more merchantmen but by the time the war started they still only had a fraction with under 4,000 ships globally. Clarendon also instigated the Navigation Acts which penalized English merchants for carrying in Dutch ships and caused higher inspection, lading and harbor fees to be incurred on Dutch ships. By the end of the 2nd Dutch war, some estimates put the number of English trading ships at below 1,500. The English desperately sought to damage Dutch trade as well with Sir Robert Holmes famous raid on Terschelling (Holmes' Bonfire) where he burned 150 Dutch merchant ships. He also tried to seize the returning Dutch Mediterranean/Smyrna merchant fleet but was unsuccessful. Bottom line: The English were bankrupt pure and simple. They could neither build or man a fleet at the end of the war.

2. Ironically loans from Dutch bankers and Charles secret Treaty of Dover (1670) where he secretly became Catholic to secure loans and a French alliance against the Dutch were the only things that allowed him to rebuild and re-man the English fleet. Although much of the English fleet was new, so was the Dutch fleet which had been enjoying DeWitt's sweeping naval reforms. By 1672 barely enough time had occurred to properly train the English fleet. The Dutch on the other hand were mostly trained veterans at the outset of the war.

3. Leadership: Many of the Dutch admirals and captains were promoted on merit and came from meager common beginnings - DeRuyter and Kortenauer both being good examples of this. While there were others that came from the aristocracy and landed gentry they were not in the majority. Whereas in England all of the Admirals but one (Spragge) were from the gentry. Spragge although an Irishmen who was resented for being a "pirate" earlier in life and opposing many English officers during the FIrst Dutch war was hotheaded. He was an excellent naval officer and commander, but his personal vandetta against Admiral Tromp caused him to make numerous mistakes over several battles and eventually cost him his life. Most of the English leaders were not skilled naval men as we would see in the excellent British navy of a century later. Most had been army officers and did not know much about actual seamanship. This always gave the Dutch a large advantage throughout these wars because most of the Dutch commanders were skilled in seamanship from a young age.

4. Guns: DeWitt and DeRuyter had ensured that most of the Dutch Capital ships of the Confederate fleet were equipped with bronze guns - and with 36 pounders on the lower decks. The English on the otherhand were equipped primarily with iron guns. While many of the capital ships had 32 pounders on the lower decks the most common large English gun was the 24 pounder and they usually had smaller 6 to 9 pounder ordinance on the decks above. Iron needed more rest time because iron guns failed more often(blew up). while Bronze does heat up a little faster, it does not foul or fail catastrophically requiring less rest time between volleys. Many historians have talked about the English having more guns during the battles of the 2nd and 3rd Dutch wars, however most never consider that the Dutch while having fewer guns had larger and better guns. Myself being a retired senior US Army artillery officer have always thought this is a major consideration and is almost always overlooked by historians.

After the crushing defeat at the Battle of Beveziers (Beachy Head) where the English and Dutch were allies against the French (with the same Dutch King on the English throne: William III) the English navy had to be rebuilt yet again. This rebuilding occurred largely under a Dutch model of administration and completely through Dutch bank loans. It can be said that the lessons which were learned in the Dutch wars and the subsequent reforms under a new Dutch administration - were what caused the British Navy to become the greatest power on earth in the following century. The two countries destinies have been inextricably intertwined for centuries but often the Dutch don't get the credit due to their contributions to/ for Britain's later glory.

Edited by modernknight1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now