In the sixteenth century England turned from being an insignifcant part of an offshore island into a nation respected and feared in Europe. This was not achieved through empire building, conquest, large armies, treaties, marriage alliances, trade or any of the other traditional means of exercising power. Indeed England was successful in few of these. Instead she based her power and eventual supremacy on the creation of a standing professional navy which firstly would control her coasts and those of her rivals, and then threaten their trade around the world.
This emergence of a sea-power brought with it revolutionary ship designs and new weapon-fits, all with the object of making English warships feared on the seas in which they sailed. Along with this came the absorption of new navigational skills and a breed of sailor who fought for his living. Indeed, the English were able to harness the avarice of the merchant and the ferocity of the pirate to the needs of the state to create seamen who feared God and little else. Men schooled as corsairs rose to command the state's navy and their background and self-belief defeated all who came against them.
This is their story; the story of how seizing command of the sea with violent intent led to the birth of the greatest seaborne empire the world has ever seen.
Author: David Childs
Title: Tudor Sea Power: The Foundation of Greatness
First Published by: Seaforth Publishing
Date: 17 September 2009