Navy cannon of the 1590s

BBC News: ‘Superguns’ of Elizabeth I’s navy.

The English navy at around the time of the Armada was evolving revolutionary new tactics, according to new research. Tests on cannon recovered from an Elizabethan warship suggest she carried powerful cast iron guns, of uniform size, firing standard ammunition. "This marked the beginning of a kind of mechanisation of war," says naval historian Professor Eric Grove of Salford University. "The ship is now a gun platform in a way that it wasn’t before."

Where her father’s ship, the Mary Rose, had a variety of guns, all taking different ammunition, the ship found had twelve guns, two of which have been recovered. It was found off Alderney in the Channel Islands, probably sunk around 1592, four years after the Spanish Armada failed to invade England. Replica guns were created and fired, they could have holed a galleon from a fighting distance of 100 yards. Despite being a relatively small gun, a battery all firing at once would do more damage than a smaller number of big guns.

The English Navy was regarded as a force to be reckoned with, but no-one knew quite why it was so fearsome. This could be it, standardised guns and ammunition.

(I have a soft spot for the Mary Rose, I remember watching the reports on Newsround as they raised her and restored her. Henry VIII’s favourite warship was sunk by the French in 1545, discovered in the late 1960s in the Solent, and raised in 1982.)