I just put up another Renaissance English History Podcast on Friday (I’ve been sticking to my schedule of putting out two a month – proud of that) on Henry VIII’s Navy. I’ve been wanting to podcast on this for a while, mostly because I wanted to learn about it for myself. Henry VIII is remembered as the founder of the Tudor Navy, but it really got started with his father, Henry VII, who built up the defenses at Portsmouth harbor, including England’s first dry dock. He built 2 war ships – the Sovereign and the Regent.
Ships at the time were becoming specialized for the first time in history. Before, if you wanted to have a ship to go to war, you would take over a merchant ship, and use that. But with the invention of watertight gunports, and heavy artillery going on to ships, things became a lot more specific, and ships needed to be purpose built. They also had huge crews, which needed feeding and paying, as they also started sailing year round rather than just during warfare. All of this required a huge administrative network to get supplies for the sailors, take care of paying and feeding everyone involved with the care and repair of the ships, and maintaining the docks. Enter Thomas Cromwell with his prodigious project management skills.
The Royal Navy wasn’t founded until Cromwell’s head was well and truly separated from his body, but the work he did in the years leading up to his execution through diverting money from the dissolution of the monasteries to the navy, and appointing people specifically in charge of procuring supplies at competitive prices laid the way for the Royal Navy in 1546.
Listen below, and let me know what you think about Henry’s Navy!