English sailing ships were among the best ships in the 17th-19th centuries.
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Even in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, legendary battles took place at sea. In the Modern Age, in the race for colonization, warships played an even more important role than previously. This age is often called the Age of Sail.
Initially, it was the Portuguese and the Spanish who built the most excellent ships and thus were the first to colonize areas outside Europe. Later, England built the strongest fleet of the era and took the leading role in colonization, becoming the "Queen of the seas."
The legendary ships of the line in the 18th-century Royal Navy developed from 17th-century galleons. The term 'ship of the line' refers to the role of these ships in battles. The ships in the fleet formed a line from end to end, so each ship in the line could fire their rows of guns set up on the side of the hull, which could only fire to one side. Ships of the line were heavy, full-rigged sailing ships with the most powerful guns.
The largest ships carried over a hundred guns, which were set up on the gun decks and the main deck. The hull consisted of several decks, the topmost being the main deck, below that were the gun decks and various other decks, while the lowest level, which stored gunpowder and ballast, was called the bilge. These ships were operated by large crews, often consisting of several hundred.
HMS Victory, launched in 1765, was one of the best known and most successful ships of the line in the English Royal Navy. She is most famous as Lord Nelson's legendary flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.