In the medieval period ship development was in two distinct groupings based on geography and climatic conditions, namely the Mediterranean where the lack of tides and large waves during the summer months led to a concentration on the development of galleys, and Western European/Scandinavian waters where harsher conditions led to heaver built sailing ships becoming the norm. This division is reflected in Medieval Maritime Warfare by Charles D. Stanton , with the book being split into two distinct sections covering each area.
At this time navigation was coastal and naval warfare therefore tended to take place outside harbours, or even well inland as rivers were more navigable by the shallower draught vessels of the period. Also it was often in close support of land engagements. The book is therefore to some extent not just a nautical book but a concise history of the political based conflicts of this time.
The chapters cover the major periods of development including the conflicts between the city states such as Venice, Genoa and Pisa and the crusades in the Mediterranean section and the Viking period , the ongoing Anglo-French conflicts in the Atlantic and the Hanseatic League in the second part. Each chapter is concluded with a more detailed description of one major naval action of the period.
This is a scholarly work, including maps and illustrations, and gave a very clear explanation of how the various rivalries and trade of the smaller states typical of the period led to naval developments and engagements.
A recommended read for anyone who wishes to know more about this period before the cannon dominated naval warfare.
Description of: Medieval Maritime Warfare
Author: Charles D. Stanton