Historical Sketch of Naval Architecture
In the thirteenth century, the fleet which St. Louis took with him towards the Holy Land, gives proof of the thorough modifications which naval structures have undergone. St. Louis could only collect the eighteen hundred vessels which composed his fleet, without recourse to the marine of neighboring states Genoa and Venice among others. Now, the contracts for hire he exchanged with Venice for many vessels, give us information with respect to one called the St. Mary, represented in the engraving. This vessel had two decks and two masts. It possessed two poops, placed above each other, two platforms, an upper deck, and a fighting gallery of four or five feet overhanging the poop. This ship, manned by one hundred and ten sailors, was one hundred feet long. The same contracts give us also information concerning another vessel, called the Rochefort. Although not so long as the St. Mary, she was stronger and broader. She had two rudders; one to starboard, and the other to larboard. Her sparring consisted, also, of two masts; one at the prow, and the other amidships. The mainmast was smaller and lower than the foremast. It had only twenty-six braces, while the other had twenty-eight. The sails of almost all the fleet were of cotton. All the sails were rectangular triangles with the hypothenuse attached to the yard, and were called antennal. Still, it is proper to mention the assertion of some authors, that the sails of St. Louis' vessels were square. Their assertions were only founded on the form and dimensions of the yards, which all the documents of the time represent as very long and slung by the middle. We ought to observe that, in speaking of the St. Mary and the Rochefort, Venetian ships, we have indirectly spoken of naval constructions coming from the ports of France and those of other European countries. At this period, all vessels, Genoese, Castilian, French, etc., resembled each other; and to be acquaint ed with one was to know all. The galleys of the thirteenth century were thus somewhat changed. Lighter, sharper than those of the preceding century, in the fourteenth, the kind called 'subtle galleys,' were observed to preponderate. These galleys, extremely light and swift, were furnished on each side with from twenty-four to twenty-six oars, and might have been from one hundred and ten to one hundred and twenty feet in length. Still, in the fourteenth century, and even in the fifteenth and sixteenth, the most celebrated ships were the carradecs. Their tonnage may be estimated by their cargoes, which sometimes amounted to fourteen hundred casks.