Mary Rose, the ship, was launched in 1511, a carrack-type warship of King VII (the English Tudor Navy). It was successful in serving its purpose for 33 years in innumerable wars against France, Brittany, and Scotland. The tragic incident caused several casualties and the loss of numerous artefacts and money; only 40 passengers survived out of a list of more than 500 passengers on board that day.
History | Mary Rose Shipwreck
Henry VIII, who took great pride in his “Army by Sea,” saw his fleet grow from five ships at the start of his rule to 58 ships by his death in 1547. Although he may have owned several ships, the Mary Rose is the one that is remembered as his favourite. Notably, Mary Rose’s existence practically parallels that of Henry VIII.
The Mary Rose is first mentioned in a letter dated January 29, 1510, which requests the building of “two new ships.” The Mary Rose and her “sister” ship, the Peter Pomegranate, were supposed to be these vessels. The ships were created in Portsmouth, which makes the Solent sinking of the Mary Rose and her ultimate resting place in the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth all the more tragic.
Even though the Peter Pomegranate was smaller than the Mary Rose (600 tons compared to 450), it wasn’t the only point of differentiation between the two vessels. Although both carracks were built for battle, the Peter Pomegranate was not designed to hold large calibre weapons. The Mary Rose, on the other hand, began her career with six or eight large guns. Gun ports were a necessary new design element. Therefore, Mary Rose had a cutting-edge design. Henry was incredibly proud of the Mary Rose, which could be understood by the fact that he may have insisted on the design himself.
Sinking | Mary Rose Shipwreck
During the Battle of the Solent, which took place between the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth and featured clashes between French and English troops on the Isle of Wight, the Mary Rose sank.
According to the only eyewitness who was able to flee the sinking ship, a Flemish sailor, the Mary Rose had fired all of her guns on one side and was turning when her sails were caught in a strong gust of wind, pushing the still-open gun ports below the surface of the water.
Several accusations were raised post the sinkage of the prodigious ship that Mary Rose. Some of the possible likelihoods are discussed below:
- Incompetent Crew- From what it said, commanding Mary Rose was Sir George Carew’s first naval directive. Hence, he might have been unfamiliar with the new vessel’s capabilities, whose consequences might have been borne by several passengers on board.
- Poor Design- There must be proof for the frequently asserted claim that the gun ports were cut too low. They must have been above the waterline because scuppers are on the main gun deck.
- Unforeseen Weather Conditions- Several bystanders who managed to survive the fatal incident have reported what they saw the day Mary Rose sunk. According to the passengers, the weather took a turn for the worse, with a sudden breeze advancing, causing the capsizing of Mary Rose. Since during the battle, the gunports were wide opened, the ship was soon flooded with water and eventually sunk.
- Overload- Contradict to what many say that the ship carrying numerous guns for a ship of Mary Rose’s size was incompetent; the carriage was still within its safe limit, so this possibility simply rules out.
Findings from the Beneath
With the sinking of the enormous ship Mary Rose was in, many well-preserved artefacts were also lost that held greater importance. Some of them have been discussed below.
- Maltese cross- A garnet-set silver pendant in the form of a “Maltese cross” suspended from a loop that still has a circular link. The cross and two silver rings that it joined while submerged in the sea are thought to have belonged to the same man who perished with the ship in 1545.
- Wine flask- It’s likely that the wine in this wicker-covered flask was brought in from France’s Beauvais region. Only the officers on board drank the strong, sweet wine from the Mediterranean, which was also very popular but mostly came from France.
- Casket panel- This tiny bone carving depicts two ‘angels’ holding tall, elaborate candles in front of a building with a shuttered window. It was discovered in a chest on the main deck of the Mary Rose.
- Iron port gun- On the Mary Rose, breech-loading iron port pieces that fired hand-carved stone shots through gun ports in the ship’s side were the most prevalent large guns. By the time of the Mary Rose, firing large carriage guns capable of holing enemy ships was a relatively recent invention. The guns had a detachable chamber secured by a sizable wooden block. Many of them could be equipped with ammunition, making reloading simpler.
Recovery & Funding
In 1965, Alexander McKee and the Southsea British Sub-Aqua group reopened the Mary Rose search. They located the ship by using sonar scans. Here, the hull that survived is visible. Many archaeologists dove into the wreck to carefully uncover her lost treasures, clearing clay and debris with vacuum tubes. The recovery of Mary Rose took decades. From the clay, a crewman’s skull was discovered.
In 1982, 60 million people viewed the hull being raised. Thanks to contemporary conservation techniques, we can visit and learn from HMS Mary Rose in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyards today, 500 years after Henry VIII watched her sink.
Current Status | Mary Rose Shipwreck
The Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth houses the Mary Rose, which has been put on display for people who possess a keen interest in Nautical Science or treasure quester or even any commoner who enjoys gaining such knowledge, which was ultimately hoisted to the earth’s surface in 1982, after being submerged underwater for years. We learn a great deal about Tudor ships and maritime life from the wreck and its story.