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The Making of the Elizabethan Navy 1540-1590

The Making of the Elizabethan Navy 1540-1590: From the Solent to the Armada

David Loades
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 254
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  • Book Info
    The Making of the Elizabethan Navy 1540-1590
    Book Description:

    When Henry VIII came to the throne in 1509 the English Navy was rather ad hoc: there were no warships as such, rather just merchant ships, hired when needed by the king, and converted for military purposes, which involved mostly the transport of troops and the support of land armies. There were no permanent dockyards and no admiralty or other standing institutions to organise naval affairs. Throughout the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary, and the early part of the reign of Elizabeth, all this changed, so that by the 1580s England had permanent dockyards, and permanent naval administrative institutions, and was able to send warships capable of fighting at sea to attack the Spanish in the Caribbean and in Spain itself, and able to confront the Spanish Armada with a formidable fleet. This book provides a thorough account of the development of the English navy in this period, showing how the formidable force which beat the Spanish Armada was created. It covers technological, administrative and operational developments, in peace and war, and provides full accounts of the various battles and other naval actions. David Loades is Honorary Research Professor, University of Sheffield, Professor Emeritus, University of Wales, Bangor, and a member of the Centre for British and Irish Studies, University of Oxford. He has published over 20 books, including "The Tudor Navy" (1992).

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-743-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-vii)
    David Loades
  4. Map showing the navy’s presence in the Channel, and the battles that resulted.
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Map showing the English presence in Southern Scotland
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. INTRODUCTION The King’s Ships
    (pp. 1-18)

    On the eve of the wars with Scotland and France, which were to preoccupy Henry VIII from 1542 to 1546, the English navy was in an embryonic condition. In a sense it had existed since about 1512, when Henry had first gone to war with France, but it lacked an institutional structure and coordinated finance. During the years of uneasy peace between 1529 and 1539, when England had been preoccupied with its own internal problems, an observer could readily be excused for not noticing it at all. In 1539, when he had been particularly keen to disparage the English king,...

  7. CHAPTER ONE Operations, 1544–1547
    (pp. 19-38)

    When Viscount Lisle was appointed Lord Admiral in January 1543, Scotland was high on the agenda. As we have seen, he was doubling as Warden General of the Marches at the time, and the active command on the north-east coast was given to Sir William Woodhouse as Admiral of the North Seas. In February Woodhouse was given command of four Newcastle ships which were taken up specifically to ‘keep the seas’ between the Humber and the Tweed, and his instructions were to take any Scottish ship and any intruding Frenchmen as ‘good prizes’.¹ No state of war existed with either...

  8. CHAPTER TWO The Council for Marine Causes
    (pp. 39-55)

    The Admiralty, or as it was more usually known, ‘the king’s council for his marine causes’, came into existence gradually as the navy grew in size and permanence. In 1509 the Clerk or Keeper of the king’s ships was, as he had been for a quarter of a century, a comparatively minor royal servant who looked after the maintenance of the king’s ships when they were not actually in use. He was paid by royal warrant very specifically for jobs which he had actually done, and reimbursed for money which he had really spent.¹ There are some indications that Robert...

  9. CHAPTER THREE The Navy of Edward VI
    (pp. 56-78)

    When Henry VIII died at the end of January 1547, he left as his heir his son Edward, who was a boy of nine, and a group of men who had formed the majority of his Privy Council, but whose status was now that of executors of his will. What he did not leave was any clear instructions for the formation of a regency government.¹ This was probably because his own mind was not made up, and he regarded his will as a work in progress, rather than from any deliberate intention. However what he had done (or someone had...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR The Navy of Mary, and of Philip and Mary
    (pp. 79-99)

    On 17 July 1553, two days before her proclamation in London, Mary’s Council at Framlingham received the submission of Gilbert Grice, the captain of theGreyhound, committed the ship to his keeping, and authorised him to ‘bring away’ several pieces of ordnance.¹ The chronicles therefore seem to be accurate in substance, although not necessarily in the order of events. Two days later Sir Richard Cavendish was appointed ‘to take the government of the Queen’s ships’, and given instructions which no longer survive. This was a reflection of the uncertainty of the times, because Cavendish, although an experienced sea captain, held...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE The First Decade of Elizabeth
    (pp. 100-123)

    Warfare was very expensive. Over two full years, from 30 December 1556 to 30 December 1558, Benjamin Gonson received £144,941, of which £131,154 came from the Exchequer.¹ According to his own account, he spent £157,638 of which victualling amounted to £73,503 and wages to men at sea a further £43,492. This should have left him with a deficit of over £12,000, but when he commenced his next regular account on 1 January 1559, he acknowledged arrears of only £841.² So either the difference had been written off or the statement of his income is incomplete. These accounts cover all but...

  12. CHAPTER SIX The Navy and the Maritime Community
    (pp. 124-144)

    In the sixteenth century the word ‘navy’ was used to describe the whole merchant marine of the country. The king’s (or queen’s) ships were the ‘Navy Royal’. This was legitimate in the sense that the monarch was by custom entitled to require the service of any ship or ships which he (or she) might choose, just as he could in theory call for as many men as he might require for military service. Lists were compiled every so often of the ships that might be so called on. An incomplete note of 1560 shows seventy-nine, while much more comprehensive surveys...

    (pp. 145-163)

    One of the purposes of compiling the ‘Book of Sea Causes’ in 1559 had been to facilitate a realistic estimate of how much the navy should cost in the future. Expenses had skyrocketed during the war which was then coming to an end, and a difficult balance had to be struck between the demands of economy and the need to maintain a realistic deterrent against aggression. Lord Treasurer Winchester had proposed an ordinary of £14,000, to be reduced eventually to £10,000, for the peacetime navy, and it was upon that calculation that Elizabeth based her standing warrant for £12,000 in...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT Towards War
    (pp. 164-184)

    One of the few positive things to come out of the Newhaven campaign was the realisation that Elizabeth no longer had to fear the French navy. The formidable fleet that had confronted her father in 1545 no longer existed.¹ Consequently a close relationship with Spain was neither necessary nor desirable. Anglo-Spanish relations had not been good since the 1530s, and Mary’s marriage to Philip had made the situation worse. In so far as they wanted employment in Philip’s armies, English aristocrats might proclaim themselves to be ‘Spanish’, but that was sheer opportunism, and the rest of the country did not...

    (pp. 185-205)

    Elizabeth had plenty of information from spies in Lisbon and Madrid about the preparations for the Armada, but she could not be certain that it was aimed against her. Her spies could see what was going on, but did not have access to those circles where policy decisions were discussed and made. So this great fleet could have been directed against France, or England or the Low Countries – the last being the most plausible. However, subsidiary information filtering through from places like Florence and Venice was not reassuring.¹ Three new ships were laid down in the royal yards, work was...

  16. CHAPTER TEN Epilogue
    (pp. 206-224)

    By August 1588 the English Exchequer was empty. Expenditure had risen from a pre-war average of £168,000 to £367,000 in 1587 and £420,000 in 1588. The war chest was exhausted and the parliamentary taxation inadequate. Subsidies to the Dutch alone were costing £313,000 a year.¹ So it is not surprising that Elizabeth’s first thought, when the initial sounds of rejoicing had died away in the autumn of 1588, was that now was the time to intercept theflota, which must be worth at least £2 million. It would take months before the battered remains of the Armada could be fit...

  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 225-233)
  18. Index
    (pp. 234-244)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-245)