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Sea warfare - cannons

Discussion in 'Research' started by matanya, Sep 1, 2017.

  1. matanya

    matanya Dreamer

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    What kind of cannons/guns where commonly used by ships during medieval and renaissance time(for example, how where called the cannons at the bow? and those at the sides?).

    I would also be glad for some good websites refferences.
     
  2. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    Discover the Mary Rose A good site for info on medieval warships, with images of artifacts recovered from the Mary Rose.
     
    pmmg likes this.
  3. matanya

    matanya Dreamer

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    Thanks, it helps alot!
    I also looked up that ship on wikipedia and found a great deal of summerised info about what I was looking for.
     
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    There were no cannons on medieval warships before the 14th century for the simple reason that there were no cannons (talking Europe here). No cannons, only canons. :)

    Effective use of cannons did not come around until the end of the 15th century, though they were present in the 1300s.

    Were you looking for something specific? There are lots of books on naval history.
     
  5. Corwynn

    Corwynn Troubadour

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    I am not aware of cannon being used aboard ships before the 16th century, but that doesn't mean it couldn't have happened, especially in a fantasy world. Naval battles before the age of guns usually involved boarding operations, or in some cases ramming like with the Ancient Greek triremes.

    Cannons mounted on the sides of a ship are called broadside cannons, while guns facing ahead or astern are called bow chasers or stern chasers respectively.

    One more detail I am aware of is that early naval cannon sometimes fired stone shot. By the 17th century or so, everyone had switched to iron, presumably because hulls were being reinforced against cannon fire and stone can potentially shatter on impact, whereas iron will not.
     
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    They do go back to the 1300s. There was a Danish captain killed by a cannon ball in that century. But Corwynn is right, cannons are not really effective until the 1500s.
     
  7. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    Don't over look Asian Ships and their fire arms.
    There were Korean Turtle war ships that look very different to European eyes but wonderful at the same time.
    [ And as I speak and write in English-English... No mater how many cannon you have there are still only cannon. There is no "s" "Cannons" is not a real word :p ]
     
  8. matanya

    matanya Dreamer

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    After some research, I can specify my question:

    What I need is the names for the different (in location) cannon on a ship, so I will write: 'The sailors loaded the stern chasers' instead of: 'The sailors loaded the cannon on the back.'
    Right now, I know about stern/bow chasers, broadside cannon (thank you Cowrynn), swivel gun and mortars - is there anything I'ev missed.

    Also, I want to know what type of 'shots' were used - I know about round shots and grapeshots, what else? (are shots from mortars considered bombarding?)

    Finally, what kind of other offensive tricks (like ramming for instance) ships used? Is throwing fire barrels a realistic thing?

    CupofJoe, I'ev seen in an Oxford dictionary the plural cannons (looked it up right now), can you clerify your coment? (English is my second language)
     
  9. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    Fireships were a thing, as were hellburners. Basically, a ship deliberately set on fire and steered into enemy formation to divide the ships. The Hellburners were floating bombs, set amongst enemy ships to damage them when they explode.

    Actually, maybe watching the series Hornblower may give you some inspiration, but I have a feeling it maybe set a little later than what you are looking for.
     
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  10. matanya

    matanya Dreamer

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    Thank you, I'll check it out.
    The era I'm going for doesn't really matter, I guess, so long it's not too modern.
     
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Actually, the era is going to matter a great deal because navies evolved steadily from around 1500 onward. Each era will have its own tech and limitations. In one, you won't be able to know your longitude. In another, steam will be replacing sail. In one century, kings were commandeering merchant ships to make a navy. In another, crews were raised via impress. Somewhere in there, galleys were rendered obsolete.

    I'm not trying to spook you. If you go full fantasy, rather than trying for an alternate history feel, then you can pick and choose as you wish, and add magic into the mix.
     
  12. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    In American-English your would use and write "cannons" and because of the internet that is becoming the accepted spelling world-wide, but in English-English "cannon" would be seen as traditional the correct word. It is like deer, sheep, fish, or aircraft, you don't add the "s". I don't know why...
    It's one of those differences like color vs colour that separates American from English.
    Aside from people like me I doubt many people will care...:(
    And English isn't your first language? Wow!!!
     
  13. matanya

    matanya Dreamer

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    skip.knox, I was just fishing for ideas and terminology, as I'm still unsure about the technologycal capabilities I want. It is worth mentioning that my story isn't about sea warefare, it just have some scenes in the subject so all I needed was some technical speech and a basis for further research, which I got, so thank you all.

    CupofJoe, thank you for the explanation, although I think I'll stick with the American 'cannons' (my English is very influenced by Holywood movies).
     
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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  15. Thoras

    Thoras Minstrel

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    I had a few similar questions to this actually, seems to have most of them answered here - thanks! :)
     
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