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8-08-2015, 16:52

Assaults by Sea

Compared with medieval warships and navies, modern ones are obviously superior on all counts. h e vessels employed in warfare in the Middle Ages were small and dii cult to maneuver. h ey were also incapable of navigating reliably when out of sight of land, so “battles in the open sea were a near-impossibility,” Michael Prestwich points out. “When l eets did engage, it was normally in a harbor, or close in-shore. h e concept of ‘control of the sea’ is one that is hard to apply to the medieval period. Ships could not remain at sea for lengthy periods, and were too much at the mercy of tides and winds to exercise really ef ective control.”33 Yet despite these many drawbacks of medieval ships, the role they played in warfare was at the least signii cant and sometimes vital. Whatever the individual physical limitations of these vessels, they could travel faster than any land army. h is made them extremely valuable for transporting soldiers and all the horses, weapons, and food they required along either rivers or the coastlines of the Mediterranean, North, and Baltic Seas and Atlantic Ocean. By building a l eet of ships, therefore, a European nation could rapidly bring a large, well-supplied army to bear against most national enemies. Oxford University scholar Felipe Fernandez- Armesto says, “European naval superiority enabled military expeditions to operate successfully, far from home, against adversaries better endowed in every other kind of resource.”34