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A Centenary Of Modern Naval History 1616 to 1716

A Centenary Of Modern Naval History 1616 to 1716

History is composed not only of facts, but also of dates and if one needs to pinpoint a chronological beginning to what is considered modern naval history, historians and naval experts all agree on 1616. It was precisely in 1616 that the Portuguese João Baptista Lavanha published the Livro Primeiro de Architectura Naval, a text which actually disappeared for several decades, but was rediscovered in Spain 250 years after its publication.

A shipyard on the river Guadalquivir in 16th century Seville: detail from a townscape by Alonso Sánchez Coello. (Public Domain)\

A shipyard on the river Guadalquivir in 16th century Seville: detail from a townscape by Alonso Sánchez Coello. (Public Domain)

Lavanha's is considered the first ever text on the subject. However, in 1670, 32-year-old Anthony Deane in England also published a book, Doctrine of Naval Architecture, and three years later, in France, the Jesuit Father Pardi published a treatise on naval tactics, for example describing for the first time the forces at play that would veer a vessel on a given course with the wind at abeam, with less advancement than would be the case with the inclination of the hull itself. A few years later, in 1677, another French treatise Architecture Navale saw the light of day, thanks to F. Dassie. The treatise analyzed nothing new compared to its predecessors, but it demonstrated the interest in the topic and the existence of a critical evaluation of the subject, especially in France, which would be at the heart of subsequent studies.


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