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Henry VIII's reign

The ultimate fates of the Henrician ships varied widely. The Henri Grace a Dieu was burned in an accidental fire in 1553, a fate curiously shared by two other giant showpieces of the early English navy, Henry V's Grace Dieu in the fifteenth century and Charles I's Sovereign of the Seas in the seventeenth. The Jesus of Lubeck, one of the big ex-Hanseatic ships procured to reinforce the "vanguard of the order of battle" in the battle-plan of 1545, was lost to the Spanish at San Juan de Ulloa in the course of John Hawkins's "troublesome" third slave-trading expedition to Spanish America in 1568.

This episode was a proximate cause of the Anglo-Spanish hostility that would culminate in the Armada, and in that respect the Jesus of Lubeck forms a historical link between the Henrician fleet and the familiar Elizabethan maritime epic. The fate of the Jesus of Lubeck may also have played its part in the evolution of Elizabethan tactics, and for this reason we will return to this ship below.

These ships were older ones, or at least ships of more conventional design. The fate of the most modern Henrician ships, the galleasses of 1545, were less colorful but just as varied, and in some cases even more indicative of the evolutionary trend of the navy. The largest of the galleasses, the Grand Mistress and Anne Gallant, lasted on the navy list for only a few years. The Grand Mistress was sold about 1555 for a nominal sum, an event that raises the modern eyebrow.

We need not conclude, however, that she had been either hopelessly ill-maintained or fraudulently sold. The Grand Mistress was a wartime emergency construction, as indeed were all the new ships of 1545. Ships ordered under such conditions were frequently built of unseasoned, "green" timber, and were prone to swift deterioration; shipyards maintained brine ponds in which timber was normally held for seasoning, but stocks wre insufficient for a sudden surge of war-emergency orders...

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Henry VIII's reign. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:41, July 27, 2017, from
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