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Thread: The Spanish at Trafalgar: Ships, cannons, men and a problematic alliance

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    Default The Spanish at Trafalgar: Ships, cannons, men and a problematic alliance

    Agustín R. Rodríguez González (2005)
    The Spanish at Trafalgar: Ships, cannons, men and a problematic alliance

    Journal for Maritime Research, 7:1, 26-43, DOI:10.1080/21533369.2005.9668343

    Link to this article:
    https://doi.org/10.1080/21533369.2005.9668343

    An article from a Spanish historian focusing on the situation of the Spanish fleet at the battle of Trafalgar.
    Different aspects are discussed in the article, such as
    • Ship designs
    • The supply situation for "ship relevant" materials such as timber for masts, canvas, linen
    • The armament of the participating fleets, especially concerning carronades and howitzers
    • Some strategical and tactical aspects resulting from the numbers of ships for each nation at that time and from the numbers and types of ships participating in the battle
    • "Ideological" commonalities and differences between Spanish, French and British sailors
    • The economic situation of the Spanish nation and the resulting consequences for the Spanish Navy
    • Etc.


    I found the article good to understand and very interesting to read, in particular because it provides another perspective on incidents and times I have read about in dozens of Forrester-, Kent- and O'Brian-novels.

    It can be downloaded following the link provided above.

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    That looks like a very good article to read and keep for reference. Thanks for finding it and posting.

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    I hate to say it but I'm seeing a lot of Homerism in this article; I've yet to see any evidence supporting the claim that "Princesa was used as a model for British three-deckers." They also like to beat their chests about "bigger and better in every way" when the hard numbers show that Spanish ships were usually on dimensional and tonnage par with their French counterparts and the British usually built smaller because they made more efficient use of interior volume and needed to make the most efficient use possible of available wood.

    It would be nice to see some Primary Source citations about their cited loadouts; also I find it curious that they ONLY talk about QD/FC armaments and seem unduly impressed with obusier/howitzer type weapons.

    Of course I don't have Peer Review cred, so what the hell do I know?
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    I am inclined to agree with you DB, although I do not have your grasp of the subject. It feels as if this is a bit of a whitewash. I wonder what a report on the Spanish Armada would come out like?

    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    I started reading the article before reading your comments here and got stuck on this:

    "However, and in general, despite their great size and strength,
    their artillery was not significantly superior to that carried by their enemies’ smaller
    ships. This was due to the preoccupation of the Spanish shipbuilders with designing
    vessels that were habitable (within the truly Spartan conditions of the period), capable
    of undertaking long voyages (with a great deal of space for provisions and water) and
    to operate in any weather, which meant that they could not be overloaded."

    It's as if British ships never ventured further than a week or so from Britain...
    And the artillery wasn't "significantly superior"... It's as if that was written by a very nationalistic Spaniard who thought the inflation of the firepower of Spanish ships by Ares was a bit much.

    It's still an interesting read but it's not as objectively written as one would hope for.

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    It's very interesting how culture effects the historical notes and even modern research into subjects.

    Regarding the Great Northern War it's very interesting to look at Swedish, Polish and Russian sources from the period. Regarding just Poltava as an example, Tsar Peter lied heavily about the size of the Swedish army inflating it to a size it never was even before diseases and famine and even moved the positions of the Russian redoubts to hide they were first wrong about from where the Swedish attack would come. I don't have any illusions that Sweden is free from embellishments, but in some ways we were.

    Karl XII was a devout protestant and lying was seen as an extremely bad sin by him. That made him terrible at politics but also made sure that what was written down about battles was truthful to his knowledge. He wore the plain uniform of a private without any markings at all. Paintings of him was without any embellishments or beautification.

    Tsar Peter had a tough political situation trying to modernize a nation who didn't want to be. He needed victories and to look good. His army, reorganized in a western fashion had to be painted in a positive light or he may lose power completely. Modern researchers who look at the historical documents often assume that both sides lie equally and that the truth is in the middle, when it may well be in one of the extreme ends.

    To be honest I knew that Henrik Fredric af Chapman was very important to naval architecture, but I thought it was naval architecture in Sweden, not really internationally. I knew Sweden never were a naval nation, and that when he was active he constructed extremely good ships but they were still manned by Swedish sailors, not really the top notch...

    Funnily enough many British amateur historians seams to have a bit of the same sentiment. They know their navy was the best in the world, but still they often say things like the French made the best ships, we were lucky in the battle, and so on. When reading historical books to me it appears that some nations have a harder time being less nationalistic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bligh View Post
    I am inclined to agree with you DB, although I do not have your grasp of the subject. It feels as if this is a bit of a whitewash. I wonder what a report on the Spanish Armada would come out like?

    Rob.
    The biggest thing I will vocally agree with them on is paying tribute to their countrymen who fought and died. A man writes one of those "Up To and Including My Life" blank checks, you owe him at least some respect no matter what flag he flies.
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    Can't dispute that DB.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    Well I have not read it yet but do commend Argo for posting the link. Any information about the period of our game is always worth a look to me .

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    I could not agree more Gary.
    Look at the interest which this article has engendered even if it is slightly questionable in places.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    All literature is interesting, but sometimes you should know enough of the subject to be able to evaluate the material. Even a biased text can be a good read.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TexaS View Post
    It's very interesting how culture effects the historical notes and even modern research into subjects.
    I totally agree!

    I am not an expert at all to give a qualified rating about the article, but the comments posted here are very interesting for me (and hopefully for others following the thread), and open up different perspectives.

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    I agree with you Jonas, the trick is to sift out the relevant info and if possible compare to other accounts to get a consensus is it not

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    Yup, as with everything the game is separating the wheat from the chaff. Some sources have more chaff to plow through than others... and every so often a chaff-heavy source has a tasty little bit of high value wheat in the middle, like wading through the confusing and sometimes self-contradictory works of Jean Boudriot. (Challenging though he may have been, God rest his soul, he DID start the trailbreaking for others to follow.)
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    I have every faith in you chaps to winnow the crop and harvest the grains of truth.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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