From the eclipse of the galley in the sixteenth century until the widespread introduction of steam propulsion in the mid-nineteenth century the sailing warship was the major instrument of naval warfare. The Age of Sail annual will explore all aspects of maritime warfare during this period. Although the major components of the sailing ship changed little in these years, advances in design and construction refined the form. More strident advances occurred in fighting tactics. Ships began to fight in fleets in the sixteenth century, with the line of battle developing in the seventeenth century.
This defensive formation was designed to minimise the chances of suffering a decisive defeat. It was not until the latter part of the eighteenth century that certain officers in the Royal Navy broke free from this rigid tactic and implemented an aggressive approach designed to bring about decisive results. Central to the development of sailing navies, were advances made in the infrastructure of naval administration. Re-supplying at sea, combating disease and ill health, the development of a professional officer corps all added to the effectiveness of naval forces. Growing world trade, in particular with non-European parts of the globe, provided the finance to underwrite the huge cost of a naval force, for sailing warships were expensive to build, man and maintain and were a heavy and continual drain on the resources of kings and states. With good reason the ship-of-the-line was viewed as the ultimate symbol of national power. Containing reviews, notes and queries, a gallery and a section specifically to publish important original documents, and edited by the distinguished naval historian Nicholas Tracy, The Age of Sail will be the premier resource for the historian and naval enthusiast as well as the general reader.
Author: Nicholas Tracy (Editor)
Title: The Age of Sail: The International Annual of the Historic Sailing Ship
First Published by: Conway