Book Review: "GREAT SHIPS: The Battle Fleet of King Charles II" by Frank L. Fox

Uwek

Admin
Staff member
Administrative
Blandford Group Build
Joined
Dec 25, 2017
Messages
6,866
Points
728

Location
Vienna, Austria
Great Ships: The Battle Fleet of King Charles II
By Frank L. Fox

IMG_25311.jpg IMG_25321.jpg

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Conway Maritime Press; 1st ed. edition 1980
Language: English
Package Dimensions: 11.8 x 9.7 x 0.5 inches or 30 * 24,6 * 1,3 cm
Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds


Synopsis from Book:

The rapid evolution of ship design between 1660 and 1685 makes the Restoration Navy especially important in the history of naval architecture. Many standard ship types, such as the two-decker 3rd Rate, were perfected during this period, and the more innovative shipwrights introduced methods of construction that were to survive for over a century. While acknowledging these advances, all previous works on the subject have been vague and generalized, without much reference to particular ships.

Extensive research by the author in England, the Netherlands, France and Scandinavia has produced a book which combines for the first time a balanced appreciation of Restoration warship design, with a specific account of the whole battlefleet. Not only are the ships described individually and in classes but most are illustrated with reliably identified portraits - either paintings or selections from the thousands oil minutely detailed drawings of the Van de Veldes, father and son.

These drawings have long been recognized as the most accurate of their type, but surprisingly few have been reproduced outside museum catalogues, and those from private collections never before. Thus GREAT SHIPS provides a unique portrait gallery of Charles II´s navy, and its principle opponents – as a reference work it is complete and definitive, and the depth of detail will surprise even the specialist.

IMG_25341.jpg IMG_25351.jpg

IMG_25361.jpg IMG_25371.jpg

Contents:

The Restoration Fighting Ship (page 11 to 30)
The Fleet at the Restoration – Early Stuart Survivors (page 31 to 50)
The Fleet at the Restoration – Inheritance from the Interregnum (page 51 to 72)
The Early Restoration Period 1660-1667 (page 73 to 94)
First Rates 1668-1675 (page 95 to 114)
Continental Navies (page 115 to 134)
The Middle Restoration Period 1668-1676 (page 135 to 152)
The Thirty Ships 1678-1685 (page 153 to 172)
Appendices I to VII (page 173 to 1197)
List of ships in service 1660-1685 – Abstract of Fleet Strength 1659-1685 – Ordnance Establishment of 1666 – Ordnance Establishment of 1677 – Ordnance Establishment of 1685 – Gunport Configurations – Establishment of Cabin Allowances 1673
Drawings of a First Rate (page 198 to 203)
Glossary, Sources & Bibliography, Index

37 colour illustrations on 32 pages in best quality; a huge number of monochrome illustrations

IMG_25381.jpg IMG_25391.jpg

IMG_25401.jpg IMG_25411.jpg

Review:

GREAT SHIPS is in my opnion THE sourcebook for all those interested in the ships of the Restoration.
As you can see from the contents, following a survey of the fleet, there is a chronological account of the ships and their construction, with a chapter on the major European rivals. The ‘modern’ wooden warship began with a series of ‘trophy’ ships, starting with The Prince under James I, the Sovereign of the Seas under Charles I, and the Naseby under Cromwell. These were designed by members of the Pett family of shipbuilders, and by the end of the reign, the wooden warship of Nelson’s day had almost fully evolved (apart from the steering-wheel, which came in early in the 18th century).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pett_dynasty

This extremely readable book narrates the evolution of the wooden warship, with occasional reference to the campaigns and battles. For a detailed account of the Anglo-Dutch wars, see the same author’s Four Days’ Battle, which despite its title covers the whole series of naval campaigns, but has a particularly detailed study of that battle. These are some of the most beautiful ships ever built, and they are documented in perfection.
This is an excellent book on the navy of Charles II. It is a study of the ships themselves, not of the campaigns and battles they took part in. It is profusely illustrated, thanks to the Van de Veldes, the supreme naval artists of the 17th century, who went along to most of the battles and sketched the actions as they took place, then went home and painted the scenes. They also drew many portraits of individual ships. They worked both for the Dutch and the English, changing sides in the 1660s, possibly due to being captured during a battle. Other marine artists are available, and several are represented here also.

Further reading:
A Distant Storm: The Four Days' Battle of 1666
The Four Days' Battle of 1666: The Greatest Sea Fight of the Age of Sail
The Anglo-Dutch Wars of the Seventeenth Century

IMG_25421.jpg IMG_25431.jpg

IMG_25441.jpg IMG_25451.jpg

More Look Inside photos in the next post
 

Uwek

Admin
Staff member
Administrative
Blandford Group Build
Joined
Dec 25, 2017
Messages
6,866
Points
728

Location
Vienna, Austria
I am fortunate to have a copy of this book that I purchased for $80 fifteen years ago. I have seen it sell as high as $900 US as it seems to be a rare bird indeed.

Bill
Hallo Bill,
In the meantime it is rare, and already close to 40 years old. Published in 1980.
So you can find it more or less only used. On abebooks it is starting in moment around 120 GBP.
Sometimes you can find a copy on eBay for a reasonable price. 900 US$ copy will be not sold. Not every day is Christmas, especially not on the market for used books....
 

pebbleworm

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 26, 2013
Messages
117
Points
58

Always check bookfinder.com - they don't have any inexpensive copies, but a bunch between 175 and 300 USD.
 
Top