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Fig19.jpg (538860 bytes)

Fig. 19 The mounting of the ordnance on sixteenth-century Mediterranean war galleys

  Not drawn to scale, but the maximum width of the ordinary galleys depicted here was about 24 feet across the rowing frame.


 (a) Venetian galley, ca. 1486. Armed with a single rigidly mounted bombard, probably of cast bronze, though possibly of wrought iron, and a breechloader. Spanish galleys of this period were, in some cases at least, more heavily armed, although the Venetians were probably the first to standardize on the provision of a heavy centerline bow gun for their ordinary galleys. It is probable that galleys of all the Mediterranean nations carried at least some wrought-iron breechloading swivel pieces of the verso type by this time; but we cannot be certain where or how they were mounted.

 (b) Genoese, Sicilian or Neapolitan galley, ca. 1535. A Spanish galley would have been similarly armed at a somewhat earlier date. The deck pieces shown represent a 30-40 pdr full cannon weighing at least 5,500 lb, two 7-10 pdr sacres weighing perhaps 1,800 lb each. The addition of one or two 15-18 pdr pedreros weighing about 1,200 lb would have made this an unusually heavily armed ordinary galley for 1535 (though assymetrical armament combinations were not uncommon, pedreros were relatively rare on the galleys of Spain’s possessions by this time). The swivel pieces shown would have been typical for the galleys of Spain at an earlier date or for those of Sicily, Genoa and Naples in 1535. Working from the centerline out, a pair of half cannons (medios caņones), bronze muzzleloaders weighing about 800 lb each, an esmeril (starboard) weighing perhaps 200 lb and three versos, old wrought-iron breechloaders weighing about 150 lb each.

 (c) Venetian galley, ca. 1571. Armed with a 52-55 pdr cannone weighing some 5,500 lb, two 12 pdr aspidi weighing about 1,200 lb and a pair of 5-6 pdr falconetti weighing perhaps 900 lb, this would be representative of the Venetian galleys which fought at Lepanto. A galley of this type would have carried a substantial swivel armament of perhaps eight bombardelli (bronze breechloaders similar to Spanish morteretes) and eight to ten Moschetti (bronze pieces similar to a Spanish esmeril, but muzzleloaders); but inasmuch as the way in which they were mounted is unclear, we have omitted them. Ottoman galleys of the same period would have been similarly armed (though the individual pieces would have weighed a bit more relative to their projectile weight) and would have had a generally similar appearance. In place of the temporary fighting structure shown here (the longitudinal planks were removable), Muslim galleys seem to have had a lower permanent structure which covered a smaller area, leaving the breeches of the cannon exposed.

 (d) Spanish galley, ca. 1571. Note that the ‘spur’ has been cut off, as in the case of Don Juan’s celebrated order at Lepanto, to allow the main centerline piece to depress fully. The arrumbada has not been barricaded with planking and cordage. The pieces shown represent a 40-50 pdr full cannon weighing about 5,000-6,000 lb, a pair of 7-13 pdr sacres weighing 1,500-1,800 lb each and a pedrero (starboard) firing an 18-20 lb ball and weighing about 1,200-1,500 lb, plus a half sacre (port) weighing around 1,000 lb and firing a 4-5 lb ball. The swivel pieces atop the arrumbada are, from left to right, a bronze breechloading morterete, a bronze verso, two more morteretes, a bronze breechloading esmeril, another verse and another morterete. A lantern galley would have had an additional pair of flanking deck pieces, perhaps another pedrero and another half sacre, or perhaps two more half sacres.