Medieval Ships and Explorations

Medieval Ships and Explorations. Medieval navy, naval trade and types of ships used in middle ages. Hansa, viking explorations, Arabic ships and Columbus.

Medieval ships were powered by oar or sail. There were plenty of varieties in ships available. The design of the ships was old however. When trade expanded then many improvements were made in navy and shipping. The most famous pirates of the middle ages were the Vikings.  They were the people from Northern Germany who raided in Europe and settled in most of the areas of Asia, Europe and the North Atlantic islands.  Piracy was spread through the Baltic and the Mediterranean Sea. These pirates were some of the powerful sailors who are very reckless. They used to loot the people of Europe badly.

Viking ships and navy: The Vikings brought their culture into these regions. The ships used by these people were actually vessels. The boats used to be flexible and had symmetrical ends. Clinker technique was used to build these ships. For style a dragon’s head or any other circular object was made at the tip of the ship.
Navigation started in the 15th century as a result of the commercial activities in Portugal. It were the Vikings who traveled between 800 and 1200 and settled in Iceland and Greenland. Leif Ericson was the European who reached the America 500 years before Columbus.

Viking knarr ships were up to 100 feets (30m) long. These viking ships were able to sail up to 120 km (75 miles) every day.

Dragon ships of the vikings

Viking Dragon Ships
Arabic ships: On the whole, the Arabs were the ones who made great contributions towards navigation. They played an important role in expanding the trade networks.

Arabic dhow ship

Arabic ship

Mediterranean sea was a next center of the naval trade in medieval times. Many Italian cities made fortune with naval trade. Competition of the Venezia and Genova ended in series of wars in 13th and 14th century.

One of the most prominent explorers of the middle ages was Marco Polo. In the last crusade of St. Louis, a Venice lad, Marco Polo was born. His father was a rich merchant who used to go on journeys to faraway lands for trading. When Marco polo turned 17, he started to assist his father in his journeys. Marco Polo travelled to Cathy, Peking, and many other Eastern countries.

Venetian galley ship

Venetian ship
Hanse was a medieval and renaissance trade alliance. Members of the Hanseatic league were mostly North European cities from today Germany,  Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, Sweden (Hamburg, Lubeck, Stetin, Danzig, Antwerp, London). Hanse trade was on the rise in Baltic and North Sea.

Hanseatic koga ship

Koga ship

Columbus ships

A number of expeditions were made in the middle ages but the discovery of America was the most overwhelming one. Christopher Columbus was the first European who stepped on to the soil of America.  The voyage of Columbus encouraged different European explorers to take the route from the east to explore more lands. Columbus discovered America in 1492, this date sometimes means end of medieval times.

Christopher Columbus had three ships in his fleet. Santa Maria (carrack) was the greatest one with 40 men, Nina (24 men) and Pinta (26 men) were a smaller caravel type ships.

Columbus ships

Columbus ships

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