By Stewart Gordon
Tales of mess ups at sea, no matter if approximately Roman triremes, the treasure fleet of the Spanish major, or nice transatlantic ocean liners, fireplace the mind's eye as little else can. From the historic sinkings of the gigantic and the Lusitania to the hot capsizing of a Mediterranean cruise send, the research of shipwrecks additionally makes for a brand new and intensely various knowing of worldwide heritage. A background of the realm in 16 Shipwrecks explores the age-old, immensely detrimental, over and over romantic, and ongoing means of relocating humans and items around the seven seas.
In recounting the tales of ships and the folks who made and sailed them, from the earliest craft plying the traditional Nile to the Exxon Valdez, Stewart Gordon argues that the slow integration of typically neighborhood and separate maritime domain names into fewer, better, and extra interdependent areas bargains a special viewpoint on global historical past. Gordon attracts a couple of provocative conclusions from his examine, between them that the ecu “Age of Exploration” as a unique occasion is just a delusion: over the millennia, many cultures, east and west, have explored far-flung maritime worlds, and applied sciences of shipbuilding and navigation were one of the major drivers of technological know-how and exploration all through background. In a sequence of compelling narratives, A heritage of the area in 16 Shipwrecks exhibits that the advance of associations and applied sciences that made the terrifying oceans primary and grew to become unknown seas into well-traveled sea-lanes issues profoundly in our smooth international.
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Extra resources for A History of the World in Sixteen Shipwrecks
Naval tragedies tend to be better recorded and more often pass into the historical record. One of the worst took place off the Isles of Scilly only a few years after Defoe’s storm. On the night of 22 October 1707 five large ships of the British fleet were lost and about 1,670 men were drowned. They were returning home from Toulon, under the command of 57-year-old Rear Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell in his 90-gun flagship HMS Association. A famous naval hero of the day, the Admiral’s body came ashore on St Mary’s where it was buried but later removed with all due honours to Westminster Abbey.
Robert Stevenson designed the Bell Rock lighthouse (36 m or 118 ft tall and first lit in 1811) so that its masonry blocks dove-tailed both horizontally and vertically – just as with Smeaton’s Eddystone. The result was so rigid that it too shuddered in big seas. On the other hand, when the second tallest lighthouse in the UK (at 48 m or 158 ft) was built in 1844 – Skerryvore, 17 km (10 miles) south of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides – Robert’s son Alan calculated that the weight of the tiers built on top of each other would be sufficient to bind the whole structure just as strongly so the tower yielded slightly to the pounding waves.
In the early morning of Friday 26 November 1703 – still fit and strong for all his 59 years – he bravely set sail from the Barbican Steps in Plymouth with several men who were to relieve the duty lightkeepers. He himself intended to stay in the tower for a few days, to oversee some repairs before returning ashore and onwards by coach to his London home for Christmas. However, after several weeks of persistent gales the sea was still displaying a considerable swell. The small tender had undertaken the voyage in similar conditions many times before but, due to the uncertainty of the weather, the skipper James Bound, was reluctant to take Winstanley.
A History of the World in Sixteen Shipwrecks by Stewart Gordon