In this way the water has often been more the home of freedom than the land: liberty and sea-power have often gone together; and a free people like ourselves have nearly always won and kept freedom, both for themselves and others, by keeping up a navy of their own or by forming part of such an Empire as the British, where the Mother Country keeps up by far the greatest navy the world has ever seen. The canoe navies, like other navies, did very well so long as no enemy came with something better.
But when boats began to gain ground, canoes began to lose it. We do not know who made the first boat any more than we know who made the first raft or canoe. But the man who laid the first keel was a genius, and no mistake about it; for the keel is still the principal part of every rowboat, sailing ship, and steamer in the world.
There is the same sort of difference between any craft that has a keel and one that has not as there is between animals which have backbones and those which have not. By the time boats were first made someone began to find out that by putting a paddle into a notch in the side of the boat and pulling away he could get a stronger stroke than he could with the paddle alone.
Then some other genius, thousands of years after the first open boat had been made, thought of making a deck. Once this had been done, the ship, as we know her, had begun her glorious career. But meanwhile sails had been in use for very many thousands of years. Who made the first sail? Nobody knows. But very likely some Asiatic savage hoisted a wild beast's skin on a stick over some very simple sort of raft tens of thousands of years ago.
Rafts had, and still have, sails in many countries. Canoes had them too. Boats and ships also had sails in very early times, and of very various kinds: some made of skins, some of woven cloth, some even of wooden slats. But no ancient sail was more than what sailors call a wind-bag now; and they were of no use at all unless the wind was pretty well aft, that is, more or less from behind.
We shall presently find out that tacking, which is sailing against the wind , is a very modern invention; and that, within three centuries of its invention, steamers began to oust sailing craft, as these, in their turn, had ousted rowboats and canoes. This chapter begins with a big surprise. But it ends with a bigger one still. When you look first at the title and then at the date, you wonder how on earth the two can go together.
But when you remember what you have read in Chapter I you will see that the countries at the Asiatic end of the Mediterranean, though now called the Near East, were then the Far West, because emigrants from the older lands of Asia had gone no farther than this twelve thousand years ago. Then, as you read the present chapter, you will see emigrants and colonies moving farther and farther west along the Mediterranean and up the Atlantic shores of Europe, until, at last, two thousand years before Columbus, the new Far West consisted of those very shores of Spain and Portugal, France and the British Isles, from which the whole New Western World of North and South America was to be settled later on.
The Atlantic shores of Europe, and not the Mediterranean shores of Asia and of Egypt, are called here "The First Far West" because the first really Western people grew up in Europe and became quite different from all the Eastern peoples. The Second Far West, two thousand years later, was America itself. Westward Ho! And it certainly is the very last West of all; for over there, across the Pacific, are the lands of southern Asia from which the first emigrants began moving West so many thousand years ago.
Thus the circuit of the World and its migrations is now complete; and we can at last look round and learn the whole story, from Farthest East to Farthest West. Most of it is an old, old story from the common points of view; and it has been told over and over again by many different people and in many different ways.
But from one point of view, and that a most important point, it is newer now than ever. Look at it from the seaman's point of view, and the whole meaning changes in the twinkling of an eye, becoming new, true, and complete. Nearly all books deal with the things of the land, and of the land alone, their writers forgetting or not knowing that the things of the land could never have been what they are had it not been for the things of the sea. Without the vastly important things of the sea, without the war fleets and merchant fleets of empires old and new, it is perfectly certain that the world could not have been half so good a place to live in; for freedom and the sea tend to go together.
True of all people, this is truer still of us; for the sea has been the very breath of British life and liberty ever since the first hardy Norseman sprang ashore on English soil. Nobody knows how the Egyptians first learnt ship-building from the people farther East. But we do know that they were building ships in Egypt seven thousand years ago, that their ninth king was called Betou, which means "the prow of a ship", and that his artists carved pictures of boats five hundred years older than the Great Pyramid.
These pictures, carved on the tombs of the kings, are still to be seen, together with some pottery, which, coming from the Balkans, shows that Betou had boats trading across the eastern end of the Mediterranean. A picture carved more than six thousand years ago shows an Egyptian boat being paddled by fourteen men and steered with paddles by three more on the right-hand side of the stern as you look toward the bow.
Thus the "steer-board" or steering side was no new thing when its present name of "starboard" was used by our Norse ancestors a good many hundred years ago. The Egyptians, steering on the right-hand side, probably took in cargo on the left side or "larboard", that is, the "load" or "lading" side, now called the "port" side, as "larboard" and "starboard" sounded too much alike when shouted in a gale.
Up in the bow of this old Egyptian boat stood a man with a pole to help in steering down the Nile. Amidships stood a man with a cat-o'-nine-tails, ready to slash any one of the wretched slave paddlers who was not working hard. All through the Rowing Age, for thousands and thousands of years, the paddlers and rowers were the same as the well-known galley-slaves kept by the Mediterranean countries to row their galleys in peace and war. These galleys, or rowing men-of-war, lasted down to modern times, as we shall soon see.
They did use sails; but only when the wind was behind them, and never when it blew really hard. The mast was made of two long wooden spars set one on each side of the galley, meeting at the head, and strengthened in between by braces from one spar to another. As time went on better boats and larger ones were built in Egypt. We can guess how strong they must have been when they carried down the Nile the gigantic blocks of stone used in building the famous Pyramids. Some of these blocks weigh up to sixty tons; so that both the men who built the barges to bring them down the Nile and those who built these huge blocks into the wonderful Pyramids must have known their business pretty well a thousand years before Noah built his Ark.
The Ark was built in Mesopotamia, less than five thousand years ago, to save Noah from the flooded Euphrates. The shipwrights seem to have built it like a barge or house-boat. If so, it must have been about fifteen thousand tons, taking the length of the cubit in the Bible story at eighteen inches. It was certainly not a ship, only some sort of construction that simply floated about with the wind and current till it ran aground.
But Mesopotamia and the shores of the Persian Gulf were great places for shipbuilding. They were once the home of adventurers who had come West from southern Asia, and of the famous Phoenicians, who went farther West to find a new seaboard home along the shores of Asia Minor, just north of Palestine, where they were in the shipping business three thousand years ago, about the time of the early Kings of Israel. These wonderful Phoenicians touch our interest to the very quick; for they were not only the seamen hired by "Solomon in all his glory" but they were also the founders of Carthage and the first oversea traders with the Atlantic coasts of France and the British Isles.
Their story thus goes home to all who love the sea, the Bible, and Canada's two Mother Lands. They also went round to Persia and probably to India. About B. This took them more than two years, as they used to sow wheat and wait on shore till the crop was ripe. Long before this they had passed Gibraltar and settled the colony of Tarshish, where they found silver in such abundance that "it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon. But we do know that many Phoenicians did trade with the French and British Celts, who probably learnt in this way how to build ships of their own.
For two thousand years Eastern fleets and armies tried to conquer Europe. Sometimes hundreds of years would pass without an attack. But the result was always the same—the triumph of West over East; and the cause of each triumph was always the same—the sea-power of the West. Without those Western navies the Europe and America we know today could never have existed.
First, the Persians fought the Greeks at Salamis in B. Then Carthage fought Rome more than two hundred years later. Finally, the conquering Turks were beaten by the Spaniards at Lepanto more than two thousand years after Salamis, but not far from the same spot, Salamis being ten miles from Athens and Lepanto a hundred. Long before Salamis the Greeks had been founding colonies along the Mediterranean, among them some on the Asiatic side of the Aegean Sea, where the French and British fleets had so much to do during the Gallipoli campaign of against the Turks and Germans.
Meanwhile the Persians had been fighting their way north-westwards till they had reached the Aegean and conquered most of the Greeks and Phoenicians there. Then the Greeks at Athens sent a fleet which landed an army that burnt the city of Sardis, an outpost of Persian power.
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Thereupon King Darius, friend of the Prophet Daniel, vowed vengeance on Athens, and caused a trusty servant to whisper in his ear each day, "Master, remember Athens! Now, the Persians were landsmen, with what was then the greatest army in the world, but with a navy and a merchant fleet mostly manned by conquered Phoenicians and Greek colonists, none of whom wanted to see Greece itself destroyed. So when Darius met the Greeks at Marathon his fleet and army did not form the same sort of United Service that the British fleet and army form.
He was beaten back to his ships and retired to Asia Minor. But "Remember Athens! So for ten years he and his son Xerxes prepared a vast armada against which they thought no other force on earth could stand. But, like the Spanish Armada against England two thousand years later, this Persian host was very much stronger ashore than afloat. Its army was so vast that it covered the country like a swarm of locusts.
At the world-famous pass of Thermopylae the Spartan king, Leonidas, waited for the Persians. Xerxes sent a summons asking the Greeks to surrender their arms.
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Then wave after wave of Persians rushed to the attack, only to break against the dauntless Greeks. At last a vile traitor told Xerxes of another pass which the Greeks had not men enough to hold, though it was on their flank. He thus got the chance of forcing them either to retreat or be cut off. Once through this pass the Persians overran the country; and all the Spartans at Thermopylae died fighting to the last. Only the Grecian fleet remained.
It was vastly out-numbered by the Persian fleet. But it was manned by patriots trained to fight on the water; while the Persians themselves were nearly all landsmen, and so had to depend on the Phoenicians and colonial Greek seamen, who were none too eager for the fray. Seeing the Persians too densely massed together on a narrow front the Greek commander, Themistocles, attacked with equal skill and fury, rolled up the Persian front in confusion on the mass behind, and won the battle that saved the Western World.
The Persians lost two hundred vessels against only forty Greek. But it was not the mere loss of vessels, or even of this battle of Salamis itself, that forced Xerxes to give up all hopes of conquest. The real reason was his having lost the command of the sea. He knew that the victorious Greeks could now beat the fighting ships escorting his supply vessels coming overseas from Asia Minor, and that, without the constant supplies of men, arms, food, and everything else an army needs, his army itself must wither away. Two hundred and twenty years later the sea-power of the Roman West beat both the land- and sea-power of the Carthaginian East; and for the very same reason.
Carthage was an independent colony of Phoenicians which had won an empire in the western Mediterranean by its sea-power.
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It held a great part of Spain, the whole of Sardinia, most of Sicily, and many other islands. The Romans saw that they would never be safe as long as Carthage had the stronger navy; so they began to build one of their own. They copied a Carthaginian war galley that had been wrecked; and meanwhile taught their men to row on benches set up ashore. This made the Carthaginians laugh and led them to expect an easy victory. But the Romans were thorough in everything they did, and they had the best trained soldiers in the world.
They knew the Carthaginians could handle war galleys better than they could themselves; so they tried to give their soldiers the best possible chance when once the galleys closed. They made a sort of drawbridge that could be let down with a bang on the enemy boats and there held fast by sharp iron spikes biting into the enemy decks. Then their soldiers charged across and cleared everything before them. The Carthaginians never recovered from this first fatal defeat at Mylae in B. All sorts of reasons, many of them true enough in their way, are given for Hannibal's final defeat.
But sea-power, the first and greatest of all, is commonly left out. His march round the shores of the western Mediterranean and his invasion of Italy from across the Alps will remain one of the wonders of war till the end of history. But the mere fact that he had to go all the way round by land, instead of straight across by water, was the real prime cause of his defeat. His forces simply wore themselves out.
Look at the map and you will see that he and his supplies had to go much farther by land than the Romans and their supplies had to go by water because the Roman victory over the Carthaginian fleet had made the shortest seaways safe for Romans and very unsafe for Carthaginians.
Then remember that carrying men and supplies by sea is many times easier than carrying them by land; and you get the perfect answer. When Caesar was conquering the Celts of Western France he found that one of their strongest tribes, the Veneti, had been joined by two hundred and twenty vessels manned by their fellow-Celts from southern Britain. The united fleets of the Celts were bigger than any Roman force that Caesar could get afloat. Moreover, Caesar had nothing but rowboats, which he was obliged to build on the spot; while the Celts had real ships, which towered above his rowboats by a good ten feet.
But, after cutting the Celtic rigging with scythes lashed to poles, the well-trained Roman soldiers made short work of the Celts. The Battle of the Loire seems to have been the only big sea fight the Celts of Britain ever fought. After this they left the sea to their invaders, who thus had a great advantage over them ashore. The fact is that the Celts of the southern seaports were the only ones who understood shipbuilding, which they had learnt from the Phoenicians, and the only ones who were civilized enough to unite among themselves and with their fellow-Celts in what now is France but then was Gaul.
The rest were mere tribesmen under chiefs who were often squabbling with one another, and who never formed anything like an all-Celtic army. For most of them a navy was out of the question, as they only used the light, open-work, basket-like coracles covered with skins—about as useful for fighting the Romans at sea as bark canoes would be against real men-of-war. The Roman conquest of Britain was therefore made by the army, each conqueror, from Caesar on, winning battles farther and farther north, until a fortified Roman wall was built across the narrow neck of land between the Forth and Clyde.
Along these thirty-six miles the Romans kept guard against the Picts and other Highland tribes. The Roman fleet was of course used at all times to guard the seaways between Britain and the rest of the Roman Empire, as well as to carry supplies along the coast when the army was fighting near by. This gave the Romans the usual immense advantage of sea-transport over land-transport, never less than ten to one and often very much more.
The Romans could thus keep their army supplied with everything it needed. The Celts could not. Eighteen hundred years after Caesar's first landing in Britain, Wolfe, the victor of Quebec, noticed the same immense advantage enjoyed by King George's army over Prince Charlie's, owing to the same sort of difference in transport, King George's army having a fleet to keep it well supplied, while Prince Charlie's had nothing but slow and scanty land transport, sometimes more dead than alive.
The only real fighting the Romans had to do afloat was against the Norsemen, who sailed out of every harbour from Norway round to Flanders and swooped down on every vessel or coast settlement they thought they had a chance of taking. To keep these pirates in check Carausius was made "Count of the Saxon Shore". It was a case of setting a thief to catch a thief; for Carausius was a Fleming and a bit of a pirate himself. He soon became so strong at sea that he not only kept the other Norsemen off but began to set up as a king on his own account.
He seized Boulogne, harried the Roman shipping on the coasts of France, and joined forces with those Franks whom the Romans had sent into the Black Sea to check the Scythians and other wild tribes from the East. The Franks were themselves Norsemen, who afterwards settled in Gaul and became the forefathers of the modern French. So Rome was now threatened by a naval league of hardy Norsemen, from the Black Sea, through the Mediterranean, and all the way round to that "Saxon Shore" of eastern Britain which was itself in danger from Norsemen living on the other side of the North Sea.
Once more, however, the Romans won the day.
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The Emperor Constantius caught the Franks before they could join Carausius and smashed their fleet near Gibraltar. He then went to Gaul and made ready a fleet at the mouth of the Seine, near Le Havre, which was a British base during the Great War against the Germans. Meanwhile Carausius was killed by his second-in-command, Allectus, who sailed from the Isle of Wight to attack Constantius, who himself sailed for Britain at the very same time.
A dense fog came on. The two fleets never met. Constantius landed. Allectus then followed him ashore and was beaten and killed in a purely land battle. This was a little before the year ; by which time the Roman Empire was beginning to rot away, because the Romans were becoming softer and fewer, and because they were hiring more and more strangers to fight for them, instead of keeping up their own old breed of first-class fighting men. By Rome itself was in such danger that they took their last ships and soldiers away from Celtic Britain, which at once became the prey of the first good fighting men who came that way; because the Celts, never united enough to make a proper army or navy of their own, were now weaker than ever, after having had their country defended by other people for the last four hundred years.
The British Empire leads the whole world both in size and population. It ended the Great War with the greatest of all the armies, the greatest of all the navies, and the greatest of all the mercantile marines. Better still, it not only did most towards keeping its own—which is by far the oldest—freedom in the world, but it also did most towards helping all its Allies to be free.
There are many reasons why we now enjoy these blessings. But there are three without which we never could have had a single one. The first, of course, is sea-power. But this itself depends on the second reason, which, in its turn, depends upon the third. For we never could have won the greatest sea-power unless we had bred the greatest race of seamen. And we never could have bred the greatest race of seamen unless we ourselves had been mostly bred from those hardy Norsemen who were both the terror and the glory of the sea.
Many thousands of years ago, when the brown and yellow peoples of the Far South-East were still groping their way about their steamy Asian rivers and hot shores, a race of great, strong, fair-haired seamen was growing in the North. This Nordic race is the one from which most English-speaking people come, the one whose blood runs in the veins of most first-class seamen to the present day, and the one whose descendants have built up more oversea dominions, past and present, than have been built by all the other races, put together, since the world began.
When the early Nordics outgrew their first home beside the Baltic they began sailing off to seek their fortune overseas. In course of time they not only spread over the greater part of northern Europe but went as far south as Italy and Spain, where the good effects of their bracing blood have never been lost. They even left descendants among the Berbers of North Africa; and, as we have learnt already, some of them went as far east as the Black Sea.
So were the Franks, from whom France takes its name. The Nordic blood, of course, became more or less mingled with that of the different peoples the Nordic tribes subdued; and new blood coming in from outside made further changes still. But the Nordic strain prevailed, as that of the conquerors, even where the Nordic folk did not outnumber all the rest, as they certainly did in Great Britain.
The Franks, whose name meant "free men", at last settled down with the Gauls, who outnumbered them; so that the modern French are a blend of both. But the Gauls were the best warriors of all the Celts: it took Caesar eight years to conquer them. So we know that Frenchmen got their soldier blood from both sides. We also know that they learnt a good deal of their civilization from the Romans and passed it on to the empire-building Normans, who brought more Nordic blood into France.
The Normans in their turn passed it on to the Anglo-Saxons, who, with the Jutes and Danes, form the bulk, as the Normans form the backbone, of most English-speaking folk within the British Empire. The Normans are thus the great bond of union between the British Empire and the French. They are the Franco-British kinsfolk of the sea. We must not let the fact that Prussia borders on the North Sea and the Baltic mislead us into mistaking the Prussians for the purest offspring of the Nordic race. They are nothing of the kind. Some of the finest Nordics did stay near their Baltic home.
But these became Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes; while nearly all the rest of the cream of this mighty race went far afield. Its Franks went into France by land. Its Normans went by sea. Others settled in Holland and Belgium and became the Dutch and Flemings of today. But the mightiest host of hardy Norsemen crossed the North Sea to settle in the British Isles; and from this chosen home of merchant fleets and navies the Nordic British have themselves gone forth as conquering settlers across the Seven Seas.
The Prussians are the least Nordic of all the Germans, and most Germans are rather the milk than the cream of the Nordic race; for the cream generally sought the sea, while the milk stayed on shore. The Prussians have no really Nordic forefathers except the Teutonic Knights, who killed off the Borussi or Old-Prussian savages, about seven hundred years ago, and then settled the empty land with their soldiers of fortune, camp-followers, hirelings, and serfs.
These gangs had been brought together, by force or the hope of booty, from anywhere at all. The new Prussians were thus a pretty badly mixed lot; so the Teutonic Knights hammered them into shape as the newer Prussians whom Frederick the Great in the eighteenth century and Bismarck in the nineteenth turned into a conquering horde.
The Kaiser's newest Prussians need no description here. We all know him and them; and what became of both; and how it served them right. The first of the hardy Norsemen to arrive in England with a regular fleet and army were the two brothers, Hengist and Horsa, whom the Celts employed to defend them against the wild Picts that were swarming down from the north.
The Picts once beaten, the Celts soon got into the same troubles that beset every people who will not or can not fight for themselves. More and more Norsemen kept coming to the Isle of Thanet, the easternmost point of Kent, and disputes kept on growing between them and the Celts over pay and food as well as over the division of the spoils.
The Norsemen claimed most of the spoil, because their sword had won it. The Celts thought this unfair, because the country was their own. It certainly was theirs at that time. But they had driven out the people who had been there before them; so when they were themselves driven out they suffered no more than what they once had made these others suffer. Presently the Norsemen turned their swords on the Celts and began a conquest that went on from father to son till there were hardly any Celts left in the British Isles outside of Wales, the Highlands of Scotland, and the greater part of Ireland.
Every place easily reached from the sea fell into the hands of the Norsemen whenever they chose to take it; for the Celts never even tried to have a navy. This, of course, was the chief reason why they lost the war on land; because the Norsemen, though fewer by far at first, could move men, arms, and supplies ten times better than the Celts whenever the battlefields were anywhere near the sea. Islands, harbours, and navigable rivers were often held by the Norsemen, even when the near-by country was filled with Celts. The extreme north of Scotland, like the whole of the south, became Norse, as did the northern islands of Orkney and Shetland.
Scapa Flow, that magnificent harbour in the Orkneys, was a stronghold of Norsemen many centuries before their descendants manned the British Grand Fleet there during the recent war. The Isle of Man was taken by Norsemen. Dublin, Waterford, and other Irish cities were founded by them. They attacked Wales from Anglessey; and, wherever they conquered, their armies were based on the sea. If you want to understand how the British Isles changed from a Celtic to a Nordic land, how they became the centre of the British Empire, and why they were the Mother Country from which the United States were born, you must always view the question from the sea.
Take the sea as a whole, together with all that belongs to it—its islands, harbours, shores, and navigable rivers. Then take the roving Norsemen as the greatest seamen of the great seafaring Nordic race. Never mind the confusing lists of tribes and kings on either side—the Jutes and Anglo-Saxons, the Danes and Normans, on one side, and the Celts of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, on the other; nor yet the different dates and places; but simply take a single bird's-eye view of all the Seven Seas as one sea, of all the British Norsemen as one Anglo-Norman folk, and of all the centuries from the fifth to the twentieth as a single age; and then you can quite easily understand how the empire of the sea has been won and held by the same strong "Hardy-Norseman" hands these fifteen hundred years.
There is nothing to offend the Celts in this. They simply tried to do what never can be done: that is, they tried to hold a sea-girt country with nothing but an army, while their enemy had an army and a fleet. They fought well enough in the past on many a stricken field to save any race's honour; and none who know the glorious deeds of the really Celtic Highland, Welsh, or Irish regiments can fail to admire them now. But this book is about seamen and the sea, and how they have changed the fate of landsmen and the land.
So we must tell the plain truth about the Anglo-Norman seamen without whom there could be no British Empire and no United States. The English-speaking peoples owe a great deal to the Celts; and there is Celtic blood in a good many who are of mostly Nordic stock. For the Anglo-Normans include not only the English and their descendants overseas but many who are called Scotch and Irish, because, though of Anglo-Norman blood, they or their forefathers were born in Scotland or Ireland. They might have been as good or better if born Irish Celts or French-Canadians.
But that is not the point. The point is simply a fact without which we cannot understand our history; and it is this: that, for all we owe to other folk and other things than fleets, our sea-girt British Empire was chiefly won, and still is chiefly kept, by warriors of the sea-borne "Hardy-Norseman" breed. Desire in my heart ever urges my spirit to wander, To seek out the home of the stranger in lands afar off.
There is no one that dwells on earth so exalted in mind, So large in his bounty, nor yet of such vigorous youth, Nor so daring in deeds, nor to whom his liege lord is so kind, But that he has always a longing, a sea-faring passion For what the Lord God shall bestow, be it honour or death. No heart for the harp has he, nor for acceptance of treasure, No pleasure has he in a wife, no delight in the world, Nor in aught save the roll of the billows; but always a longing, A yearning uneasiness hastens him on to the sea. Translated from the Anglo-Saxon. The Celts had been little more than a jumble of many different tribes before the Romans came.
The Romans had ruled England and the south of Scotland as a single country. But when they left it the Celts had let it fall to pieces again. The Norsemen tried, time after time, to make one United Kingdom; but they never quite succeeded for more than a few years. They had to wait for the empire-building Normans to teach them how to make, first, a kingdom and then an empire that would last.
Yet Offa, Edgar, and Canute went far towards making the first step by trying to raise a Royal Navy strong enough to command at least the English sea. Offa, king of Mercia or Middle England had no sooner fought his way outwards to a sure foothold on the coast than he began building a fleet so strong that even the great Emperor Charlemagne, though ruling the half of Europe, treated him on equal terms.
Here is Offa's good advice to all future kings of England: "He who would be safe on land must be supreme at sea. Anyhow he tried the true way to stop the Danes, by attacking them before they landed, and he caused ships of a new and better kind to be built for the fleet. Edgar used to go round Great Britain every year inspecting the three different fleets into which his navy was divided; one off the east of England, another off the north of Scotland, and the third in the Irish Sea.
It is said that he was once rowed at Chester on the River Dee by no less than eight kings, which showed that he was following Offa's advice by making his navy supreme over all the neighbouring coasts of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. After Edgar's death the Danes held command of the sea. They formed the last fierce wave of hardy Norsemen to break in fury on the English shore and leave descendants who are seamen to the present day. Nelson, greatest of all naval commanders, came from Norfolk, where Danish blood is strongest.
Most of the fishermen on the east coast of Great Britain are of partly Danish descent; and no one served more faithfully through the Great War than these men did against the submarines and mines. King George V, whose mother is a Dane, and who is himself a first-rate seaman, must have felt a thrill of ancestral pride in pinning V.
Fifty years before the Norman conquest Canute the Dane became sole king of England. He had been chosen King of Denmark by the Danish Fleet. But he was true to England as well; and in , when he conquered Norway, he had fifty English vessels with him. Meanwhile another great Norseman, Leif Ericsson, seems to have discovered America at the end of the tenth century: that is, he was as long before Columbus as Columbus was before our own day.
In any case Norsemen settled in Iceland and discovered Greenland; so it may even be that the "White Eskimos" found by the Canadian Arctic Expedition of were the descendants of Vikings lost a thousand years ago. As two of these must have been Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, which Cabot discovered with his English crew in , it is certain that Canada was seen first either by Norsemen or by their descendants.
The Norse discovery of America cannot be certainly proved like the discoveries made by Cabot and Columbus. But one proved fact telling in favour of the Norsemen is that they were the only people who built vessels "fit to go foreign" a thousand years ago. All other people hugged the shore for centuries to come. The Norsemen feared not any sea. Seated in her was the skeleton of the Viking Chief who, as the custom used to be, was buried in his floating home.
He must have stood well over six foot three and been immensely strong, judging by his deep chest, broad shoulders, and long arms fit to cleave a foeman at a single stroke. This Viking vessel is so well shaped to stand the biggest waves, and yet slip through the water with the greatest ease, that she could be used as a model now. She has thirty-two oars and a big square sail on a mast, which, like the one in the old Egyptian boat we were talking of in Chapter II, could be quickly raised or lowered.
Under Two Flags: The American Navy in the Civil War
If she had only had proper sails and rigging she could have tacked against the wind. But, as we shall soon see, the art of tacking was not invented till five centuries later; though then it was done by an English descendant of the Vikings. Eighty foot long and sixteen in the beam, this Viking vessel must have looked the real thing as she scudded before a following wind or dashed ahead when her thirty-two oars were swept through the water by sixty-four pairs of the strongest arms on earth.
Her figure-head has gone; but she probably had a fierce dragon over the bows, just ready to strike. Her sides were hung with glittering shields; and when mere landsmen saw a Viking fleet draw near, the oars go in, the swords come out, and Vikings leap ashore—no wonder they shivered in their shoes!
It was in this way that the Normans first arrived in Normandy and made a home there in spite of Franks and Gauls, just as the Danes made English homes in spite of Celts and Anglo-Saxons. There was no navy to oppose them. Learn more at Author Central. Previous page. Unknown Binding. Next page. There's a problem loading this menu right now. Learn more about Amazon Prime. Get fast, free delivery with Amazon Prime. Books By William M.
Fowler Jr. Kindle Edition. Only 1 left in stock - order soon. Get it by Wednesday, Oct 09 Only 11 left in stock - order soon. Other Formats: Mass Market Paperback. Get it by Wednesday, Oct 09 Only 1 left in stock - order soon. Get it by Tuesday, Oct 08 Only 1 left in stock - order soon. Get it by Wednesday, Oct This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title Vividly written and researched by a noted historian of the period, this succinct history credits the Union Navy as an essential element in the northern victory.
Synopsis : Examines the role of the Union and Confederate navies during the Civil War and discusses the technological and strategic evolution of the Navy during the period. Buy New Learn more about this copy. About AbeBooks. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Avon B Search for all books with this author and title. Customers who bought this item also bought. Stock Image. New Paperback Quantity Available: 1. Seller Rating:. Published by Naval Institute Press. Under Two Flags William Fowler. Published by Naval Institute Press New Quantity Available: 1.
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