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How common were firearms on English ships during the Tudor period?

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Nor'wester

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Angus Konstam's book 'Elizabethan Sea Dogs' says that on Martin Frobisher's ship Triumph there were 100 firearms issued before the battles of the Armada campaign. He also says that, of the weapons captured by the Spanish from John Hawkins' expedition in 1568, there were 89 muskets, 121 arquebuses, and 16 arquebus-á-croc.

Obviously these were more organised/high-profile vessels, so maybe the numbers were lower on smaller or less well-equipped ships. Still though, I'd welcome any information on how common firearms were aboard English ships during the Tudor period, whether naval, merchant, or privateer. Any comparison between the early, mid, and late Tudor periods would also be good.
 

tenngun

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The musket at the time was a large two man weapon and was a flank protection gun.
There were wheelocks and snaphaunce by this time but almost all guns were match locks.
On Mary Rose most of the small arms were bows.
Battles at sea were still largely fought by hand to hand combat. Ships were just beginning to be made for ship to ship combat. Cannon was still small and very slow to load, and primary anti personal.
Hawkins et all the ‘Sea Hawks’ went more prepared to fight on land, if they fought they wanted a quick raid under conditions that didn’t favor match locks.
For a century after pikeman made up the bulk of the fighting force. Until the general use of flintlocks hand held guns were not overly useful at sea
 

kje54

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The musket at the time was a large two man weapon and was a flank protection gun.
There were wheelocks and snaphaunce by this time but almost all guns were match locks.
On Mary Rose most of the small arms were bows.
Battles at sea were still largely fought by hand to hand combat. Ships were just beginning to be made for ship to ship combat. Cannon was still small and very slow to load, and primary anti personal.
Hawkins et all the ‘Sea Hawks’ went more prepared to fight on land, if they fought they wanted a quick raid under conditions that didn’t favor match locks.
For a century after pikeman made up the bulk of the fighting force. Until the general use of flintlocks hand held guns were not overly useful at sea
I'd like to find the source again (should have saved it) but it claimed during the Armada fight the English ship's cannon could only be fired three times a day and the Spanish cannon once a day.
 

Nor'wester

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The musket at the time was a large two man weapon and was a flank protection gun.
Not necessarily. By the later 1500s you had muskets that could be fired by one man using a rest. And then of course you already had lighter calivers and arquebuses which were one-man weapons.

Hawkins et all the ‘Sea Hawks’ went more prepared to fight on land, if they fought they wanted a quick raid under conditions that didn’t favor match locks.
And yet, they carried dozens of firearms with them, as Konstam points out in the Spanish inventory of captured weapons, or as we see from Frobisher's arms on his flagship during the Armada Campaign. This is what raised my curiosity about firearms being carried by seafarers in this period. I'm definitely not assuming they would have made up a majority of shipboard arms, just curious to learn how often and in what numbers they tended to be carried aboard ship over the course of this period.

For a century after pikeman made up the bulk of the fighting force.
Not the bulk, at least not on land. The continued development of pike-and-shot tactics during the century after (17th century) meant that eventually the numbers of musketeers to pikemen reached roughly 1:1 in places like Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. But anyway, that's going past the period I'm asking about, so I won't go on with that :)
 
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tenngun

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All true. The op was guns in the Tudor period. That’s from Henry the seventh through Elizabeth. And this was a time of arms development.
The first movements of English, mostly against Spanish,changes over the time. Primarily it was after the 1550s that English got interested in the Spanish Main. The Cold War against Spain would be almost exclusively privateers.Say 1560, and that is different then 1588, or the near twenty years after that was still Tudor
 

Nor'wester

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All true. The op was guns in the Tudor period. That’s from Henry the seventh through Elizabeth. And this was a time of arms development.
The first movements of English, mostly against Spanish,changes over the time. Primarily it was after the 1550s that English got interested in the Spanish Main. The Cold War against Spain would be almost exclusively privateers.Say 1560, and that is different then 1588, or the near twenty years after that was still Tudor
Absolutely, what was more common in the 1580s might not have been in the 1530s. That's why, in the last bit of my op, I tried asking for any info that could help me compare the presence of firearms on ships between the early, mid, and late Tudor period, to see how it might have evolved over the decades. It's not a subject I'm too familiar with, so I'm open to any historical evidence we have concerning this.
 

Melchi577

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At the time of the Mary Rose the Anthony rolls list the Grace a Dieu as having 100 hand guns, The Peter with 60 and the Mary Rose 50 (with 1000 shot for these hand guns so 20 potential shots per gun). way less than the long bows. the English had a poor reputation with them, probably due to having to supply their own still very expensive powder for practice. During the suppression of the prayer book rebellion 1549 the king had to import Italian aquibusiers as there were not enough competent English ones.
will have a look in my books for later century stuff.
 

Nor'wester

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At the time of the Mary Rose the Anthony rolls list the Grace a Dieu as having 100 hand guns, The Peter with 60 and the Mary Rose 50 (with 1000 shot for these hand guns so 20 potential shots per gun). way less than the long bows. the English had a poor reputation with them, probably due to having to supply their own still very expensive powder for practice. During the suppression of the prayer book rebellion 1549 the king had to import Italian aquibusiers as there were not enough competent English ones.
will have a look in my books for later century stuff.
Thanks, that's a good start, especially the inclusion of ammunition stocks.
 

Rudyard

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' Mary Rose' certainly carried many Venetian snap matchlocks .and relics recovered match examples studied by Guy Wilson Then at the Tower Armouries .Henry the 8 th tried to buy thousands of these guns. The AK 47 of the era not allways successfully they where not large guns and where of medium bore. I don't believe there where the big full muskets referred to until perhaps towards the end of the Tudor period . Guns where used at the battle of Ancrum Moor but perhaps by merceneries ..This is top of my head stuff but I have some documentation. I made two Elizabethan matchlocks a caliver & a petronel complete with collar of bandoleers' 12 apostles ' moulds & a patron for the Gunner of the replica Golden Hinde as I knew him from his previous ship the' Nonesuch 'also build by Hinkes at Appledore Devon shot the caliver at Bisley's 'Short Siberia 'range and delivered them and worked a few days rigging her and now they are on display in Winnipeg Museum each had the lever trigger if where not meant to be' documentary ' but evidently past muster with the Peg museum .Can I ask why you seek such information? sounds interesting .
Regards Rudyard
 

Nor'wester

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Can I ask why you seek such information? sounds interesting .
Regards Rudyard
Just honest curiosity, I'm not a professional historian or anything, not looking for cheat sheets on my next paper ;)
I come from a maritime family and I've always had an interest in the 'Age of Discovery' that the Tudor period fits in to, and I'm also a target shooter (though admittedly not with muzzle-loaders), so there's a triple interest in early-modern history, maritime stuff, and guns that all fits here :)
 

Nor'wester

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' Mary Rose' certainly carried many Venetian snap matchlocks .and relics recovered match examples studied by Guy Wilson Then at the Tower Armouries .Henry the 8 th tried to buy thousands of these guns. The AK 47 of the era not allways successfully they where not large guns and where of medium bore.
Ah, so Venetian matchlocks were considered the cheap/rugged guns of the day? That's interesting, I had no idea.
 

Rudyard

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No I wouldnt say they where cheap just numerous . Mary Rose sank 1545 or close & Ancrum Moor same year but have no specific record of type but he had German & Italian mercenaries besides Scots who just liked the money & turned coat when it went pear shape for Henry's troops .Bussiness is bussiness !
With a handle like Nor' wester I should have gessed you had the sea in your blood .Good on you .
Regards Rudyard
 

reiter1957

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Long term, You may want to reach out and tap the resources in the National Museum at Greenwich England as they DO have the majority of Admiralty docs and records and are trying to digitize older stuff before it crumbles....to answer simple curiousity these have been some great replies!
 

Rudyard

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Thank you Reiter for your kind response we do seem to have answered the query quite well between us & Ide assess you arn't too far away from the National Maritime Museum.
Regards Rudyard
 

tenngun

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Ah, so Venetian matchlocks were considered the cheap/rugged guns of the day? That's interesting, I had no idea.
Italian iron and steel work was considered some of the best in Europe. Perhaps only second to Toledo. North Italy was the ‘Silicon Valley’ of gun development at this time.
 

Rudyard

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Dear Tengun Quite correct that sums it up well ,
Rudyard
 

Nor'wester

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Italian iron and steel work was considered some of the best in Europe. Perhaps only second to Toledo. North Italy was the ‘Silicon Valley’ of gun development at this time.
Ah alright. I guess I got confused when Rudyard called them the AK47 of the era. I don't typically view AK47s as examples of refined craftsmanship :p
 

tenngun

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In this case, they did high dollar ( high ducat?) pieces, but also were the best gun builders of the time, even for military guns.
 

Nor'wester

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In this case, they did high dollar ( high ducat?) pieces, but also were the best gun builders of the time, even for military guns.
Definitely nothing like AKs then...
It doesn't surprise me though that Venice was considered a quality producer of firearms. I'd heard mentions of north-Italian arquebusiers being recruited as mercenaries by other European states, so they must have known what they were doing. I wonder if any of them served at sea... The Venetians had been known for their maritime prowess during the later middle ages.
 

Pukka Bundook

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Re the loading and firing time for cannon in the Tudor age, I believe a good many in Henry V111's time were still breech-loaders, and spare loaded chambers were carried on -board the ships.
These chambers were loaded with powder and a wooden plug. (Some found still loaded on the sea-bed.)
In use, the plug appears to have been left in place; A ball placed in the breech, followed by the loaded chamber, then the wedge driven in behind it to make it fairly gas -tight.
This is by way of saying that a lot more than three rounds a day could be fired with this type of cannon.
As Rudyard said above, the Heavy great muskets were later, more at the end of the Tudor period, and of Spanish origin. They started off much smaller and lighter in the early days. (See "arquebus")
In the early 1500's these were often the arms of the Landsknechts, and has short 20-30" barrels and snap locks. (tinder-locks.)

Best,
R.

PS,
Rudyard,
Still up to my ears in harvest. Will get rit to you Soon I hope! I look here over coffee, then out scratching all day!
 
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