Henry VIII had a radical approach to building the fleet he wanted.
As stated in The Black Book of the Admiralty:
“If any of our shyppe or vessells doe meete with those upon the sea which doe make any resistance or defence against those of our shyppe or vessells, then it is lawfull, nay dutifull, for our men to assaile the others as enemies and by force and bring them before the admirall entirely...”
He also loved to gorge on roasted chicken legs and throw them to the hungry hounds after just a couple of bites. That, and befuddle, bother or behead his six wives.
But one of the most important parts of Henry VIII's legacy was the building of a powerful Royal Navy. With both the Scottish and the French constantly threatening to attack, as soon as he was crowned King wasted no time in commissioning new ships.
The Mary Rose was ordered to be built in 1509, the same year he came to the throne. Something of a latter-day superyacht complete with cannons, contrary to popular belief, the Mary Rose did not sink with nearly all hands on its maiden voyage; it served the Navy well for 34 years.
To fund his obsession to build a powerful fleet, Henry had an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution to dissolve all the wealthy monasteries and take their cash and antiquities. When he died in 1547, the Royal fleet had more than 40 ships, the monasteries were near destitute, the land near stripped of all oak trees, but Britain possessed one of the most powerful navies in the world.
Embarcation of Henry VIII
It’s also thanks to Henry VIII that we have the catchy sounding ''The Judgment of the Sea, of Masters, of Mariners, and Merchants, And All Their Doings', a weighty tome based on the Rolls of Oleron.
Henry didn't only build the Navy. A well-educated and intellectual man, in 1518 he established the Royal College of Physicians in order to ‘withstand the attempts of those wicked men who shall profess medicine more for the sake of their avarice than from the assurance of any good conscience.’
That said, life aboard a naval warship of the time was akin to being in prison with the added danger of being either cannonballed, drowned or killed by primitive medical care. Physicians aboard battleships served as doctor, dentist and pharmacist, rolled into one. Among objects found in the Mary Rose were knives for amputations, bowls for blood-letting and a rudimentary syringe used, of course, on many men without sterilisation.
These days you don’t need a king’s ransom to fully cover yourself or your crew from the many hazards at sea, or to protect yourself from the ‘avarice’ of scarily expensive hospitals should illness befall you overseas.
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About the Author:
Simon Dixon is Partner Relationships Manager with Moore Stephens Brokers Limited, a registered insurance broker intermediating in hull insurance, P&I insurance and all related marine and yacht insurances including crew medical, accident, sickness and life insurance. MSBL is associated with Moore Stephens Crew Benefits which signposts to banking services, foreign exchange and international mortgages, specifically designed for superyachts and the unique lifestyles of yacht crew.
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