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Book Review
Tudor Warships (1)
New Vangard 142
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by: Jim Adams [ GOLDENPONY ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights


New Vanguard Series, #142

7.25" x 9.75"
48 pages
38 B/W photographs
10 Color Plate Illustrations
Written by Angus Konstam
Illustrated by Tony Bryan


Henry VII encouraged the introduction of artillery on naval ships. Henry VIII had his royal navy build ships specifically designed as gun platforms. Naval warfare was redefined during the Tudor period. England rose to rule the seas with France and Spain being set at the wrong end of English Naval guns. Osprey’s newest book covers the rise of the English Naval Power during this period in Tudor Warships (1).


Ship Design
Late Medieval Warships
The Carrack
The Adaptation Phase
Purpose built Gun Platforms
Building the Mary Rose

Operational History
Henry VII’s Navy
Henry VIII’s Navy

Armament and Gunnery
Wrought Iron Breech-loading Pieces
Bronze Muzzle-loading Pieces
Cast-iron Muzzle-loading pieces
Gun Carriages
Naval gunnery and Tactics

The Tudor Fleet in Action

Further Reading



The opening chapter covers ship design in late 15th century England through the beginning of the 16th century. The designs of Richard III are traced back the their medieval origins. Upon his death in 1485 Henry VII ascended the throne and began to change the way England look at her Navy. Previous English kings had used merchant ships as armed Naval ships when the need arose. When Henry VII came to power he began to change this he encouraged the use of artillery on Naval ships and began to build an armed Navy.

Differences between different style of ships are covered, gogs, galleies, carracks, ship, and great ships. One many think is was a simple transformation from merchant gog into a warship, but this was not the case. Ships such as the Sovereign, Mary of the Tower, and the Regent were test beds as much as they were operation warships. The evolution of the Tudor war ship is capped by the only known surviving example of Tudor ship construction, the Mary Rose.

Operational histories of both Henry VII and Henry VIII’s navies are covered. From protecting the British coast during the winter months, the Battle of Brest in August 1512, and the Battle of Portsmouth in 1545.

Of course no book on Naval warships can be complete without covering armaments and tactics. Wrought iron guns, brass gun, carriages, and hand guns are discussed. Much like on a modern warship placement and uses of weapons was as important in Tudor England. The changing of ides on weapons was as crucial as the design of the ship.

No book about the Tudor Navy is complete without a discussion of the Mary Rose. She was the prize of the fleet and considered by most the first true battle ship. She was built in 1509 at an original tonnage of 500. After a refit in 1536 she was upped to 700 tons and 60 guns. She was lost during the opening of the Battle of Portsmouth in 1545. She was located in 1970 and her hull was raised in 1982.

The book is wrapped up with a nice further reading list along with a very good index. Another point well worth mentioning are the illustrations. There are reproductions of period works showing the ships as see by contemporary artist. Then add in the full color illustrations and everything ties in wonderfully.

Author and Illustrator

Angus Konstam is from the Orkney Islands and has written more than 20 books for Osprey. Angus is a former curator for the Mel Fischer Maritime Museum in Florida as well as former Curator of Weapons in the Royal Armories at the Tower of London. Some of his maritime titles include Osprey Elite 67:Pirates 1660-1730, Osprey Elite 69:Buccanneers 1620-1700, and Elite 70:Elizabethan Sea Dogs 1560-1605.

Tony Bryan is a freelance illustrator who currently lives in Dorset England. He began life in Engineering and worked for a number of years in Military R&D. He has a strong interest in military hardware, armor, arms, planes, and ships. He has produced illustrations for many magazines and books, including a number of titles for the Osprey series, New Vanguard.


While this particular book is not actually geared toward modelers it is a very good reference to have at hand. Historical reference material is just as important to a modeler as is detailed information on your subject. So adding this book to your reference library would be a wise choice. It is written on a level that allows the reader to take in the information
Highs: Detailed subject information, top-notch illustrations
Lows: Reading the last page.
Verdict: Overall, although not geared toward the modeler in general, still deserves a second look by early sailing shipwright enthusiasts...definitely recommended from this modelers point of view!
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-84603-251-6
  Suggested Retail: $17.95
  Related Link: Tudor Warships (1)
  PUBLISHED: Apr 08, 2008
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
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About Jim Adams (goldenpony)

Copyright ©2020 text by Jim Adams [ GOLDENPONY ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Hi Jim Good review, thanks for sharing it with us. I have to ask (sorry) but any mention to Portuguese ships in the book? Rui
APR 08, 2008 - 02:25 AM
No Rui, no mention of the Portuguese in this one, just France and Spain. I guess the Portuguese were too busy exploring the world to bother with the English. It would be nice to have a similar book on Portuguese ships from the same time frame.
APR 08, 2008 - 04:22 AM
Thanks Jim And yes, it would be VERY INTERESTING to have such book Cheers, Rui
APR 08, 2008 - 05:03 AM

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