Today in 1512 Thomas Knyvett died. Thomas Knyvett was an English nobleman who was a close friend of Henry VIII, shortly after Henry came to the throne. According to Hall's Chronicle, Knyvett was a frequent participant in the jousts and pageants of the new king's glittering court and was made Henry's Master of the Horse in 1510.
When Henry declared war on France in 1512, Knyvett, along with Sir John Carew, was given command of the royal flagship, the Regent. With a number of court favourites commanding other vessels, a small fleet set sail for the coast of Brittany. On 10 August 1512 they engaged a slightly larger French fleet, and a violent melee known as the Battle of St. Mathieu ensued off the coast of Brest. Knyvett's ship grappled with the Breton command vessel Cordelière, and was engaged in boarding her when the Cordelière's powder magazine blew up (some say it was deliberately ignited). The two vessels burst into flame. Knyvett and Carew both perished, along with the Breton captain and more than 1,700 men, both French and English.
This was one of the last naval battles that included grappling - in future guns would be more prominent, and would mean that boats never got close enough to each other for grappling.
That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com where there are episodes devoted to the rise of the Tudor navy.
2015 episode on the Tudor Navy