CONQUEST OF THE OCEAN: An Illustrated History of Seafaring

CONQUEST OF THE OCEAN: An Illustrated History of Seafaring

BRIAN LAVERY    Book Number: 88814    Product format: Hardback

In January 1778, during his third voyage across the Pacific, Captain Cook wrote in his journal, "How shall we account for this Nation spreading itself so far over this Vast ocean?" He was speaking of the Polynesians, a people he had found scattered across thousands of Pacific islands in a vast triangle of ocean between Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island. This immense area had been colonised in simple boats without charts, compasses or even written instructions. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans built the first large warships and merchant vessels, but stayed mainly in the Mediterranean. The first European trans-oceanic voyagers were the Vikings who also reached Iceland, Greenland and finally North America in 985. Between 600 and 1100 the Arabs established trade routes across the Indian Ocean as far away as China, and by the 14th and 15th centuries Chinese explorers were coming the other way, right across to the east coast of Africa and down to Cape of Good Hope. However, it is the voyages of the European Age of Exploration that have had the most profound effect on world history. Within 30 years of Columbus establishing the first permanent link with the Americas in 1492, European sailors had blazed a trail to India via the Cape of Good Hope and thence circumnavigated the globe. The secret of European success was threefold: the evolution of three- and four-masted vessels that combined the best of Mediterranean and Northern European boatbuilding traditions, the adoption of navigational devices such as the magnetic compass, the astrolabe and the sextant, and finally a level of ambition and drive (no doubt fuelled by the promises of limitless riches) that inspired seafarers to endure intense hardship and risk their lives venturing beyond the limits of the known world. Soon the major seafaring nations realised the importance of controlling the seas and heavy artillery found its way onto ships and the era of maritime warfare was born. Migration, exploration, provision of livelihood or sustenance, trade, transportation and warfare - here is the whole amazing history of man's relationship with the sea. 400pp, colour and b/w illus.
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ISBN 9781465408419
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