Navy of England
White Ensign of the Navy Royal 1630-1649
|Active||Origin 1199, Formal - 1485|
|Allegiance||Kingdom of England|
|Branch||HM Armed Forces of England|
|Part of||Northern Admiralty|
Northern, Southern and Western Admiralty
Northern and Western Admiralty
Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office
|Garrison/HQ||Port of Southampton, Chatham|
|Lord Admiral, Charles Howard, Lord Effingham|
The Navy Royal also known as the Navy Royale or Kings Navy or English Navy or Navy of England, was the maritime branch of the English Armed Forces of the Kingdom of England 1199–1642. The 19th century naval historian Sir Nicholas Harris Nicholas attributes its founding to the reign of King John of England (1199–1216). Prior to 1485 the Navy Royal initially referred to all naval resources available to the Monarch of England both his own ships known as the (King’s Ships), requisitioned ships and the ships of the Cinque Port Fleet all in turn supported by a fleet of merchant ships. Of all the early medieval kings who understood the strategic importance of sea power the first was King Richard I in the 12th century. However a semi permanent royal naval force would not be reestablished until the reign of King Henry V (1413-1422), he developed a permanent "Royal Battle Fleet" for England. This coincided with the establishment of a single operating authority the Admiralty Office for all of England in 1414, in order to centralise all naval affairs, and control and direct the Navy Royal.
After 1485 the Navy Royal became a permanent standing navy, and started to expand rapidly during the reign of Henry VIII from 1509. The Admiralty office was renamed the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office in 1546 during Henry VIII expansion of the Kings Marine. By 1546 it had its own civil secretariat, dockyards and a permanent core of purpose-built warships. Under Elizabeth I England became involved in a war with Spain, which saw privately owned vessels combining with the Queen's ships in highly profitable raids against Spanish commerce and colonies.. The Parliament of England seized the navy at the beginning of the English Civil War in 1642, following the defeat of the royalists loyal to the King and the establishment of the republic of the Commonwealth of England, (1649-1660), modern historians refer to it as the Commonwealth Navy. In 1660 following the restoration of the monarchy to the throne of England the commonwealth and protectorate navy was formally re-established by Charles II as the Royal Navy. Previously to this the Navy Royal was administered by three regional admiralties with a separate admiral for a specific area of England who controlled and directed these local fleets. The fifteenth to sixteenth centuries involved important and critical changes in naval affairs in relation to England's developing sea power that eventually led to the establishment of a more permanent fleet/navy which laid the foundations for the future Royal Navy.
- 1 History
- 2 Command and Control
- 3 References
William the Conqueror sent a fleet to Scotland in 1072 but by the early 12th century the fleet had almost disappeared. Yet in 1141 Henry II invaded Ireland while a fleet of 167 ships sailed from Dartmouth on a crusade to capture Lisbon from the Moors. A further fleet was raised for the Third Crusade in 1190. The Norman kings had a regular need for cross-Channel transport and raised a naval force in 1155, with the Cinque Ports required to provide a total of 57 ships crewed by 21 sailors apiece. However, with the loss of Normandy by King John (who even so had a fleet of 500 sail in an attempt to regain it), this had to become a force capable of preventing invasion (e.g. the 1215–1217 French invasion of England) and protecting traffic to and from Gascony. In the first years of the 13th century William de Wrotham appears in the records as the clerk of a force of galleys to be used against Philip Augustus of France. In 1206 King John ordered 54 royal galleys to be constructed and between 1207 and 1211 £5000 was spent on the royal fleet. The fleet also started to have an offensive capability, as in 1213 when ships commanded by the Earl of Salisbury raided Damme in Flanders, where they burned many ships of the French fleet.
An infrastructure was also developing—by 1212 a base existed at Portsmouth, supporting at least ten ships. Later in the 13th century ships begin to be mentioned regularly as support for various campaigns under Edward I, most notably in Luke de Tany's capture of Anglesey in 1282. Edward II of England attempted to blockade Scotland, but this was ineffective. Naval expenses were considerable, with twenty 120-oared galleys being ordered in 1294 because of a fear of French invasion. In 1224 the first Admiral of England is recorded in charters: Henry III granted the title to Sir Richard de Lucy. Four other men were granted the same title but styled differently: in 1263 Sir Thomas de Moleton as Captain and Guardian of the English Seas and in 1286 Sir William de Leybourne, as Admiral of the English Seas; both of these offices were granted by King Edward I.
In 1294 Edward I divided the Navy Royal into three geographical 'admiralties' each assigned a fleet and each of them administered by an admiral: they were the Admiral of the Northern Fleet, the Admiral of the Western Fleet and the Admiral of the Southern Fleet; they were each responsible for managing and enforcing admiralty jurisdiction in their respective areas and raising and administering the ships. It also allowed Edward I to mount expeditions to Brittany, Flanders or Scotland with greater ease.
In 1321 Sir Richard de Leyburn was granted the title Admiral of England, Wales and Ireland by Edward II. Although each of these held the title of Admiralis Angliae, the civil jurisdiction of their offices was never used, nor did they officially receive letters patent from the monarch., they did however receive a royal writ by the monarch. In 1321 Sir John de Beauchamp, 1st Baron Beauchamp de Warwick was also appointed Admiral of the South, North and West, effectively the English Navy's first Admiral of the Fleet.
In 1360 Sir John de Beauchamp, 1st Baron Beauchamp de Warwick, as High Admiral of England was appointed by Edward III. The first Admiral to be granted a patent by the monarch was Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel as High Admiral of England, Ireland and Aquitaine given by King Richard III in 1385. In the early 13th century English admirals tended to be knights or barons, and their role was essentially administrative, not operational.
The Hundred Years' War (1337–1453) included frequent cross-Channel raids, frequently unopposed due to the lack of effective communications and the limitations of naval organisation. The navy was used for reconnaissance as well as for attacks on merchantmen and warships. Prize ships and cargoes were shared out. The Battle of Sluys in 1340 was a significant English victory, with Edward III of England's 160 ships (mostly hired merchant vessels) assaulting a French force in the Zwyn estuary and capturing 180 French ships in hand-to-hand combat. Les Espagnols sur Mer, fought in the Channel off Winchelsea in 1350, is possibly the first major battle in the open sea in English history; the English captured 14 Spanish ships. The 14th century also saw the creation of the post of Clerk of the King's Ships, who appears from 1344 on as in charge of some 34 royal vessels. At one point in the mid-14th century Edward III's navy had some 700 ships in service overall. In 1364 the Northern and Western admiralties and fleets were combined commanded by the Admiral of the North and West, and remained so on an ad hoc basis until 1414.
English fortunes declined in the 1370s, with merchants objecting to the continual borrowing of their ships. There was objection to the taxation to man the king's ships, and by the end of the reign of Richard II of England only four were left, and by 1409 only two. Henry V of England revived the navy, building a number of balingers and "great ships", increasing the fleet from six in 1413 to 39 in 1417/8. These included the 1,400-ton Grace Dieu (which still exists, buried in the Hamble estuary), and won victories in the Channel, reaching a high point in 1417 when the French fleet was destroyed. An invasion of France took place in 1415 which led to the capture of Harfleur and the victory at Agincourt. A second invasion, beginning in 1419, led to the conquest of the Channel coast of France, almost eliminating any seaborne threat to England and enabling the running down of Henry's naval forces.
Dealing with the matter of naval administration during the 15th century the most significant development was the establishment of the first Admiralty of England. This was brought about in 1412 when the remaining geographic 'admiralties' (the Northern Admiralty and Western Admiralty) were abolished and their functions were unified under a single administrative and operational command, the Admiralty Office, later called the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office.
There was no significant new construction until the 1480s, by which time ships mounted guns regularly; the Regent of 1487 had 225 serpentines, an early type of cannon. Henry VII deserves a large share of credit for the establishment of a standing navy.
Henry VII fostered sea power. He supported the old 1381 act that stated "that, to increase the navy of England, no goods or merchandises shall be either exported or imported, but only in ships belonging to the King's subjects." Although there is no evidence for a conscious change of policy, Henry soon embarked on a program of building merchant ships larger than heretofore. He also invested in dockyards, and commissioned the oldest surviving dry dock in 1495 at Portsmouth, with Sweepstake the first ship built there.
The Biographer Jack Scarisbrick says that Henry VIII (reigned 1509–1547) deserved his traditional title of "Father of the English navy". He inherited seven small warships from his father, and added two dozen more by 1514. In addition to those built in England, he bought up Italian and Hanseatic warships. By March 1513, he proudly watched his fleet sail down the Thames under command of Sir Edmund Howard. It was the most powerful naval force to date in English history: 24 ships led by the 1600 ton "Henry Imperial"; the fleet carried 5000 combat marines and 3000 sailors. It forced the outnumbered French fleet back to its ports, took control of the English Channel, and blockaded Brest. Henry was the first king to organize the navy as a permanent force, with a permanent administrative and logistical structure, funded by tax revenue and supervised by the new Navy Board. His personal attention was concentrated on land, where he founded the royal dockyards, planted trees for shipbuilding, enacted laws for in land navigation, guarded the coastline with fortifications, set up a school for navigation and designated the roles of officers and sailors. He closely supervised the construction of all his warships and their guns, knowing their designs, speed, tonnage, armaments and battle tactics. He encouraged his naval architects, who perfected the Italian technique of mounting guns in the waist of the ship, thus lowering the center of gravity and making it a better platform. He supervised the smallest details and enjoyed nothing more than presiding over the launching of a new ship. He drained his treasury on military and naval affairs, diverting the revenues from new taxes and the sales of monastery lands.
In 1512 Sir Edward Howard took over as Lord Admiral, and attacked on 10 August at Pointe Saint-Mathieu, with inconclusive results despite a memorable slugging match between the English Regent and the French Cordelière resulting in the destruction of both. Additional combat in 1513 resulted in the death of Sir Edward, and his brother Thomas Howard took his place. In 1514 the 1,500-ton carrack Henry Grace à Dieu was launched, the first English two-decker and one of the earliest warships equipped with gunports and heavy bronze cannons. Henry also commissioned the Anthony Roll (now in the Pepys Library), a survey of his navy as it was around 1546, from which comes much of the pictorial evidence for his ships.
Henry VIII initiated the casting of cannon in England. By the late Elizabethan age (see the Aldernay wreck survey) English iron workers using blast furnaces developed the technique of producing cast iron cannons which, while not as durable as the prevailing bronze cannons, they were much cheaper and enabled England to arm its navy more easily.
In the end, the chief result of the war with France was a decision to keep the 30 ships active during peacetime. This entailed the establishment of a number of shore facilities, and the hiring of additional administrators; a royal shipwright appears in 1538. By 1540 the navy royal consisted of 45 ships, and in 1545 Lord Lisle had a force of 80 ships fighting a French force of 130 attempting to invade England in conjunction with the Battle of the Solent (where the Mary Rose sank). In the same year a memorandum established a "king's majesty's council of his marine", a first formal organization comprising seven officers, each in charge of a specific area, presided over by "Lieutenant of the Admiralty" or Vice-Admiral Thomas Clere. When war was not at hand the Navy was mostly occupied in chasing pirates.
Historian G.R. Elton argues that Henry indeed build up the organization and infrastructure of the Navy, but it was not a useful weapon for his style of warfare. It lacked a useful strategy. It did serve for defense against invasion, and for enhancing England's international prestige.
Edward and Mary
Edward VI and Mary I added little new to their father's navy. Although the navy was involved in the maneuverings following the death of Henry VIII, it was ineffective. Mary maintained the building program, the navy performed satisfactorily if not outstandingly (it did not prevent the loss of Calais) in the war with France of 1557 to 1559. However, the marriage of Mary I and Philip II led to trade with Spain, allowing English shipwrights to examine and adapt modern Spanish galleon design to the needs of the English Navy as English ports were soon visited by both Spanish warships and merchantmen. This would later prove crucial to the growth and development of the race-built galleon and the Elizabethan Navy that would obtain some triumphs against the Spanish Armada during the war between Protestant England and Catholic Spain.
While Henry VIII had launched the Navy Royal as permanently standing force, his successors King Edward VI and Queen Mary I had ignored it and it was little more than a system of coastal defense. Elizabeth made naval strength a high priority. She risked war with Spain by supporting the "Sea Dogs," such as John Hawkins and Francis Drake, who preyed on the Spanish merchant ships carrying gold and silver from the New World.
A fleet review on Elizabeth I's accession in 1559 showed the navy royal to consist of 39 ships, and there were plans to build another 30, to be grouped into five categories (a foreshadowing of the rating system). Elizabeth kept the navy at a constant expenditure for the next 20 years, and maintained a steady construction rate.
By the 1580s, tensions with Spain had reached the breaking point, exacerbated by Elizabeth's support for the privateering expeditions of Hawkins, Drake, and others, and capped by the Cadiz raid of 1587, in which Drake destroyed dozens of Spanish ships. In 1588, Philip II of Spain launched the Spanish Armada against England, but after a running battle lasting over a week, the Armada was scattered and limped home. These famous battles were early actions in the long and costly Anglo-Spanish War of 1585–1604.
The Navy yards were leaders in technical innovation, and the captains devised new tactics. Parker (1996) argues that the full-rigged ship was one of the greatest technological advances of the century and permanently transformed naval warfare. In 1573 English shipwrights introduced designs, first demonstrated in the Dreadnought, that allowed the ships to sail faster and maneuver better and permitted heavier guns. Whereas before warships had tried to grapple with each other so that soldiers could board the enemy ship, now they stood off and fired broadsides that would sink the enemy vessel. When Spain finally decided to invade and conquer England it was a fiasco. Superior English ships and seamanship foiled the invasion and led to the destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588, marking the high point of Elizabeth's reign. Technically, the Armada failed because Spain's over-complex strategy required coordination between the invasion fleet and the Spanish army on shore. But the poor design of the Spanish cannons meant they were much slower in reloading in a close-range battle, allowing the English to take control. Spain and France still had stronger fleets, but England was catching up.
- James I
After the Union of Crowns between England and Scotland in 1603 the Navy Royal and Royal Scots Navy were coordinated together under James I but the efficiency of the Navy declined gradually, while corruption grew until brought under control in an inquiry of 1618. James concluded a peace with Spain and privateering was outlawed. Notable construction in the early 17th century included the 1,200-ton Template:Ship, the first three-decker, and Sovereign of the Seas in 1637, designed by Phineas Pett. Operations under James I did not go well, with expeditions against Algerian pirates in 1620/1, Cadiz in 1625, and La Rochelle in 1627/8 being expensive failures.
- Charles I
During the early Stuart period, England's relative naval power deteriorated, and there were increasing raids by Barbary Corsairs on ships and English coastal communities to capture people as slaves, which the Navy had little success in countering. Charles I undertook a major programme of warship building, creating a small force of powerful ships, but his methods of fundraising to finance the fleet contributed to the outbreak of the English Civil War. In the wake of this conflict and the abolition of the monarchy, the new Commonwealth of England, isolated and threatened from all sides, dramatically expanded the new Commonwealth and Protectorate Navy, became the most powerful in the world.
The new regime's introduction of Navigation Acts, providing that all merchant shipping to and from England or her colonies should be carried out by English ships, led to war with the Dutch Republic. In the early stages of this First Anglo-Dutch War (1652–1654), the superiority of the large, heavily armed English ships was offset by superior Dutch tactical organisation and the fighting was inconclusive. English tactical improvements resulted in a series of crushing victories in 1653 at Portland, the Gabbard and Scheveningen, bringing peace on favourable terms. This was the first war fought largely, on the English side, by purpose-built, state-owned warships. It was followed by a war with Spain, which saw the English conquest of Jamaica in 1655 and successful attacks on Spanish treasure fleets in 1656 and 1657, but also the devastation of English merchant shipping by the privateers of Dunkirk, until their home port was captured by Anglo-French forces in 1658.
The Restoration Charles II
The English monarchy was restored in May 1660, and Charles II assumed the throne. One of his first acts was to re-establish the Navy, but from this point on, it ceased to be the personal possession of the reigning monarch, and instead became a national institution—formally established as "The Royal Navy".
Command and Control
Commander in Chief Armed Forces of England
The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of England, also referred to as Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Crown, is a constitutional role vested in the English monarch, who as head of state is the "Head of the Armed Forces". Long-standing constitutional convention, however, has vested de-facto executive authority, by the exercise of Royal Prerogative.
The naval commander in chiefs office was first established in 1385 with the title High Admiral of England by 1406 the post was now national and permanent the title was re-styled Lord Admiral of England during the sixteenth century before becoming known as the Lord High Admiral of England from the seventeenth century onward who was responsible for policy and overall operational command of the Navy Royal through the Admiralty of England. Most had been courtiers or members of the Royal Family, and not professional naval officers. The office of Lord High Admiral is one of the nine English Great Officers of State and a member of the Privy Council of England. His official deputies were the Vice-Admiral of England created in 1410 initially in charge of civil and judicial administration of the admiralty courts and he served as head of the High Court of Admiralty but also naval operations. In 1545 the Council of the Marine was established to take over responsibilities for civil administration of the navy this was to be directed by a second deputy to the Lord Admiral known as the Lieutenant of the Admiralty he assumed the civil responsibilities of the Vice-Admiral of England leaving him to just concentrate on judicial administration.
Admiralty of England
The Admiralty of England from the 15th to mid 16th century consisted of a single Admiralty Office was the government office of the Kingdom of England responsible for the administration of the Navy Royal. The office was administered by the High Admiral of England later called Lord Admiral of England from 1414 to 1546 when it was replaced by the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office.
The Admiralty of England during the 16th century consisted of the Office of the Lord Admiral of England as Admiral of the English Navy and directing first the Admiralty Office the later the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office he was supported by two deputies the Vice-Admiral of England created in 1483 to relieve the High Admiral of his judicial responsibilities. In 1545 an executive committee Council of the Marine was established to take over responsibilities for civil administration of the Navy Royal this was to be directed by a second deputy to the Lord Admiral known as the Lieutenant of the Admiralty he was appointed head of the council of the marine assumed the civil responsibilities of the Vice-Admiral of England leaving him to just concentrate on judicial administration. In 1576 the council of the marine was renamed the Navy Board. They were jointly responsible for the control and direction of the navy in matters of naval operations, civil administration and administering logistical support, finance and judicial administration of the navy in relation to admiralty law and the admiralty courts. In 1625 the powers of the office of the Lord Admiral transferred to a new executive committee known as the Board of Admiralty. Responsibility for the supply of naval ordnance and arms to the Navy Royal lay with Office of Ordnance later Board of Ordnance and the Armoury Office though they were autonomous of the Admiralty Office later called Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office but worked in cooperation with them.
The Admiralty of England consisted of a number of operational command and civil control organisations of Navy Royal from 1485 to 1642.
- Admiralty Office
- Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office
- Navy Office
- Navy Pay Office
- Office of Ordnance
- Board of Ordnance
- Armoury Office
Fleets and Squadrons
- Main Articles
- Aquitaine Fleet
- Bayonne Fleet
- Channel Squadron
- Cinque Port Fleet
- Downs Squadron
- Eastern Squadron
- Gascony Fleet
- Irish Fleet
- Irish Squadron
- Lord Admirals Squadron
- Narrow Seas Squadron
- Northern Fleet
- Northern and Western Fleet
- North Sea Squadron
- Ship Money Fleet
- Western Fleet
- Western Squadron
- Cushway, Graham (2011). Edward III and the War at Sea: The English Navy, 1327-1377. Woodbridge, United Kingdom: Boydell Press. p. 20. ISBN 9781843836216.
- Rose, Susan (2013). "3: The Navy of England: Understanding the Naval Resources of the Crown". England's Medieval Navy 1066-1509: Ships, Men & Warfare. Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 9781473853546.
- Rose. Chapter 3.
- Faulkner, Ann E. (2002). "N:Navy". Historical Dictionary of Late Medieval England, 1272-1485. Westport, Connecticut, United States: Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313291241.
- Rose. Chapter 3.
- Faulkner. Chapter. N.Navy.
- Rodger, Safeguard, pp. 221–237.
- Rodger, Safeguard, pp. 238–253, 281–286, 292–296.
- Brooks, F. W. (1930). "The Battle of Damme, 1213". Mariner's Mirror. 16: 264–71.
- Hall, John E. (2005). "Court of the Admiralty: Civil Jurisdiction". The practice and jurisdiction of the Court of Admiralty : in three parts ... Clark, N.J.: Lawbook Exchange. pp. 3–5. ISBN 9781584775126.
- Rodger, N.A.M. (1998). The safeguard of the sea : a naval history of Britain, 660-1649 (1st American ed.). New York: W.W. Norton. p. 134. ISBN 9780393319606.
- Rodger, N.A.M. (1998). The safeguard of the sea : a naval history of Britain, 660-1649 (1st American ed.). New York: W.W. Norton. p. 134. ISBN 9780393319606.
- Howell, Thomas Bayly (1816). "The Case for Pressing Mariners on the trial of Alexander". A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783: 1744-53. London: T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown. pp. 1323–1363.
- "The National Archives : Trafalgar Ancestors: Glossary: Admiral of the Fleet". www.nationalarchives.gov.uk. The National Archives UK. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
- Chatterton, Edward Keble (2015). Sailing Ships: The story of their Development from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (1909). BoD – Books on Demand. p. 128. ISBN 9783845710778.
- Graham Cushway, Edward III and the War at Sea: The English Navy, 1327–1377 (Boydell Press, 2011)
- Nicolas, Sir Nicholas Harris (1847). A History of the Royal Navy, from the Earliest Times to the Wars of the Roses. Richard Bentley. p. 529.
- Wagner, p. 322
- Knighton, C. S.; Loades, David (2016). Elizabethan Naval Administration. Routledge. p. 8. ISBN 9781317145035.
- Chapter III - The Commercial Policy of England Toward the American Colonies: the Acts of Trade, in Emory R. Johnson, T. W. Van Metre, G. G. Huebner, D. S. Hanchett, History of Domestic and Foreign Commerce of the United States - Vol. 1, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1915. In Questia
- Arthur Nelson, The Tudor navy: the ships, men and organisation, 1485-1603 (2001) p. 36
- J.J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (1968) pp 500-1.
- C. S. L. Davies, "The Administration of the Royal Navy under Henry VIII: the origins of the Navy Board." English Historical Review 80.315 (1965): 268-288. in JSTOR
- A.F. Pollard, Henry VIII (1902) pp 50, 100-2.
- N.A.M. Rodger, The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain 660 – 1649 (1997) pp 184, 221 236-7
- David Loades, The Tudor Navy: An administrative, political and military history (1992) is the standard history.
- Elaine W. Fowler, English sea power in the early Tudor period, 1485-1558 (1965) is an older study.
- G.R. Elton, Reform and Reformation: England, 1509-1558 (1977) pp 309-10.
- Julian S. Corbett, Drake and the Tudor Navy, With a History of the Rise of England as a Maritime Power (2 vol 1898) online
- Geoffrey Parker, "The 'Dreadnought' Revolution of Tudor England," Mariner's Mirror, Aug 1996, Vol. 82 Issue 3, pp 269-300
- Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker, The Spanish Armada (1999) p 140
- Geoffrey Parker, "Why the Armada Failed," History Today, May 1988, Vol. 38 Issue 5, pp 26-33
- Rodger, Safeguard, pp. 349–363.
- Rodger, Safeguard, pp. 379–394, 482.
- Rodger, Command, pp. 6–8.
- Rodger, Command, pp. 12–16.
- Rodger, Command, pp. 16–18.
- A. P. van Vliet, "The influence of Dunkirk privateering on the North Sea (herring) fishery during the years 1580–1650", in J. Roding and L. Heerma van Voss (eds.), The North Sea and Culture (1550–1800) (Leiden 1996), 150–165, esp. 156.