The British Man of War

British Man of War, 1750Photo:
British Man of War / c.1750
Historical Print ­- Blumenberg Associates LLC

In the 18th century, the British Navy had become the finest in the world. Without Her Majesty’s Navy, there could not be a flung English colonial empire. This exceptional and scarce print of a First Rate English Man of War c.1750 was engraved for “the Universal Magazine for JF Clinton at The King’s Arms ins. St. Paul’s Churchyard, London.” First Rate Ship of the Line were three deck battleships that had at least 90 guns, displaced more than 2,000 tons and carried approximately 800 crewmen. The term ‘ship of the line’ derives from the standard battle formation where major warships organized themselves into a line of fire after which they opened up with an awesome cannon broadside upon the enemy. First Rate Ship of the Line were slow, expensive to operate and their lower decks was frequently swamped with water rendering many cannon useless.

Third Rate Ship of the Line, 19th centuryPhoto:
Third Rate Ship of the Line / 19th century
Archival Historic Photograph ­- Blumenberg Associates LLC

Although this ship of the line plan may be idealized and not refer to a specific ship, Seven (7) First Rate English Battleships were built between 1701 and 1737 and each would have resembled this Man of War. Whatever we now think about the British colonial empire, if we are to learn the lessons of history then all of us need to look closely at the weapons and machinery of warfare, both on land and the high seas.

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