Изображения страниц

ner in every village, town, castle, isle, or mainland by them newly found ; and, as his lieutenants, take possession of all such places as they could subdue and occupy." The question of right was as little regarded by the king of England as by Charles V. and


Alex. ander. The expedition was to be at Cabot's own cost; and the king, after all charges were defrayed, was to have “ in wares or money,” the fifth part of the profit.

There is no account of this voyage: but in a second, on A.DE which he was licensed to sail with six ships, not exceed1497.

ing the burthen of 200 tons, Sebastian Cabot discovered Newfoundland and the coast of Florida. One of the ships was sent forth at the king's cost; some London merchants ventured small stocks in her : the others were belonging to Bristol merchants, of whom Robert Thorne and Hugh Eliot were the chief : and they were “ fraught with slight and gross merchandises, in coarse cloth, caps, and laces, points, and other trifles.”*

The use of fire-arms, without which the conquests of the Spaniards in the New World must have been impossible, changed the character of naval war sooner than it did the system of military tactics, though they were employed earlier by land than by sea. It has not been ascertained when cannon f were first employed at sea : though less cumbrous and unwieldy than the old engines, they necessitated very material alterations in the structure of war ships. The first port-holes, it is believed, were contrived by a ship-builder at Brest, named Descharges, and their introduction took place in 1499. They were “ circular holes, cut through the sides of the vessel, and so small as scarcely to admit of the guns being traversed in the smallest degree, or fired otherwise than straight forward.” The first use made of this contrivance was the addition of another tier : and the consequent enlargement in the ship's dimensions led to a change in the composition of the navy. For

* Hakluyt, iii. p. 4–10. Capt. Southey, Chron. Hist. of the West Indies, i. 49-51.

According to Charnock it was by the Venetians against the Genoese, before 1380, vol. ii. p. 6.



hitherto there had been no distinction between those few vessels that had been specially built for the king's service and such as were used for commerce ; but thenceforth the king's ships began to form a distinct class, appropriated solely to the use for which they were constructed. It was, however, still necessary, when any emergency occurred, to reinforce the navy by hiring some of the largest ships that could be obtained, and not from English merchants alone, but from the Genoese, the Venetians, and the Hanse Towns.*

As merchant ships were thus hired for the navy in time of war, so, during peace, it appears that the king's ships were employed in trade, or freighted to the merchants. Henry was very desirous of maintaining the relations of peace and amity with other countries. In the commission to one of his ambassadors, he says : “ The earth being the common mother of all mankind, what can be more pleasant and more humane than to communicate a portion of all her productions to all her children by commerce ?" He renewed old commercial treaties, made new ones, obtained privileges for our fishers on the coasts of Iceland and Norway, and tried the experiment of lowering the customs on certain articles, with the hope of increasing their exportation. The treaty which he concluded with the archduke Philip,

after, in consequence of a dispute with him, a total stop had been put to the trade with the Low Countries, -was called the great commercial treaty (intercursus magnus). It was framed with the greatest care to ren. der the intercourse between the two countries permanent, and profitable to both ; and when the English returned to Antwerp (whither they had removed their factory from Bruges some few years previous, and where there was not the same frequent danger of popular commotions),

* Charnock's Hist. of Marine Architecture, vol. ii. p. 26. 28, 29.

+ Henry, vi. c. 565. The fact is deduced from the statute concerning wine and woad, which has before been noticed, 1 Hen. 7. c. 8. ; but, probably, the royal tra did not go beyond th importation wine for his own household.


they were conducted into the city with all public demonstrations of joy. *

Henry VIII., who in other respects so little resembled his father, endeavoured, like him, by every means to promote the commerce of the kingdom, and increase its maritime strength. With this view, the act concerning the importation of wine and woad was twice renewed during his reign t; and old laws for clearing the navigable rivers from weirs and other obstructions were enforced, and new ones enacted to prevent the stream works of the tin mines from choking the harbours in Devonshire and Cornwall. The squadron,

which carried 1600 English archers under the lord Darcy 1511. to assist Ferdinand in his war against the Moors of

Granada, consisted of four “ships royal.” A truce had been made before they arrived, so that they had no opportunity of displaying any thing ore than their good-will for fighting, and their extreme licentiousness and insubordination.

The first incident in the naval history of this reign grew out of a circumstance which had occurred many years before, and was itself followed by consequences of the greatest moment. A Portugueze squadron had, in the year 1476, seized a Scottish ship, laden with rich merchandise, and commanded by John Barton. Letters of reprisal were granted him, which, it seems, he had either not been able to use, or had adventured with them unsuccessfully; for, after an interval of no less than thirty years, they were renewed to his three sons, Andrew, Robert, and John, authorising them and their assignees to seize upon Portugueze ships, till they should have thus repaid themselves in the sum of 12,000 ducats of Portugal. Up to this time no application for redress had been made to the Portugueze government; and, when now made by the Rothsay herald, who was especially delegated to conciliate this dispute, and restore the ancient amity between the two crowns, there is reason to

* Henry, vi. 562. Ib. v. 8. Rymer, xii. 281. 3744381. 578. † In 1515 and in 1531.

| Hall, 521. Holinshed, 561,



believe that the Scottish demands were too high, and that sufficient cause for recrimination had already been afforded. The Bartons not only enriched themselves, but, “in some degree supplied, by Portugueze captures, the want of distant trade ;” and, when they felt their own strength, they seem, with little scruple, to have considered ships of any nation as their fair prize. Complaints came against them from the Netherlands; and, in whatever character they may have appeared to their countrymen, it is certain that other nations regarded them as pirates. Henry VIII. was at Leicester, in the summer of 1511, when tidings were brought to him that Andrew Barton robbed every nation, under the pretext that James, his master, was at war with the Portugals : that he stopped the king's streams, so that no merchants almost could pass; and saying, when he took Englishmen's goods, that they were Portugueze property, he “ haunted and robbed at every haven's mouth.” Henry's position at that time with regard to France, made him unwilling to break with Scotland; and the complaints of the merchants were but coldy received, till the earl of Surrey, then treasurer and marshal of England, declared at the council board, that while he had an estate that could furnish out a ship, or

*“In conformity,” says Charnock (i. 360.), “with what had been the gene. ral conduct of all northern countries some centuries earlier, and what, in all probability, would still have continued to be so, had not the creasing power of the southern nations prevented it, the Scots were rather addicted to that indiscriminate, partial, and predatory warfare named piracy, than to general acts of naval hostility. In their national character as seamen they were skilful, and the tempestuous latitude under which they lived of necessity caused them to be so. Their situation was so remote as almost to bid défiance to any attack from the southern nations of Europe ; and the vessels which private individuals thought proper to equip for this species of service were always of such force, and so well manned, according to the custom and practice of the times, as almost to treat opposition with contempt. England was too much harassed by intestine contests to at. tempt the punishment of what might be considered private enormities. France was their ally. The northern countries possessed no naval force capable of contending with them ; so that, according to the trite remark of every nation in the world, by turns, acquiring an ascendency over its neighbours, the Scottish ships were permitted to continue their depredations, nearly without opposition, for more than a century; till the rising consequence of Henry VII., with the more permanent and enlarged establish. ment of the English navy in the reign of his son and successor Henry VIII., closed at once all the exertions of Scotland towards the creation of a marine."

a son that was capable of commanding one, the narrow seas should not be so infested.

Surrey had two sons capable of such a charge, sir Thomas and sir Edward Howard. Two ships were immediately made ready, at their or at their father's expense, it is supposed, but with the king's knowledge and consent, though not by his special commission or immediate authority. The two brothers lost no time in putting to sea : they were separated by chance of weather. The same chance separated sir Andrew Barton's two ships, with which he was then infesting the Channel, the Lion, which was his own vessel, and the Jenny Perwin, or Bark of Scotland * ; and sir Thomas, as he lay in the Downs, descried the former making towards its own country. Immediately he gave chace, and sped so well that he overtook it, “and there was a sore battle. The Englishmen were fierce, and the Scots defended them manfully, and ever Andrew blew his whistle to encourage his men: yet for all that the lord Howard and his men, by clean force, entered the main deck. Then the English entered on all sides, and the Scots fought sore on the hatches; but, in conclusion, Andrew was taken, being so sore wounded that he died there, and then all the remnant of the Scots were taken, with their ship.” Meantime sir Edward Howard had

* Their strength is thus described in the old ballad, by a merchant whom sir Andrew had just robbed, and who relates his tale to sir Thomas Howard :

“ He is brass within, and steel without,

With beams on his topcastle strong;
And thirty pieces of ordinance

He carries on each side along;
And he hath a pinnace dearly dight,

St. Andrew's Cross it is his guide:
His pinnace beareth nine-score men,

And fifteen cannon on each side.
“ Were ye twenty ships, and he but one,

I swear, by kirk and bower and hall,
He would overcome them every one

If once his beams they do down fall." The ballad, however, is but apocryphal authority; it sinks the pinnaces, and makes the old English gunner, Peter Simon,

put in chain full nine yards long

With other great shot less and moe,' and kills a thousand men with one shot.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »