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Connor Ruebusch




Location: Cincinnati
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

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PostPosted: Thu 22 Jul, 2010 7:53 pm    Post subject: Cogs and longships         Reply with quote

Alright, so earlier I made the medieval prisons thread when I could find no other suitable resources, and got really great input and response from all sorts of people, so I'm hoping there's an equal amount of knowledge among the members regarding early/high medieval ships.

I was reading about cogs, and I read that they were open-hulled in the 11th/12th centuries. What would an open hulled trading cog look like? How would the crew cross the vessel? Planks laid down from side to side, maybe? If anyone has a picture (drawing, model, anything) of an accurate early medieval cog, that would be awesome. I am really lacking in my knowledge of all things nautical.

And what about longships? Were they still the primary warship of Northern Europe and the Baltic in the 11-13th centuries? Did they usually have sails, or just oars? Would they be stationed with archers? The same goes for a trading cog, would they keep archers/mercenaries on board to deal with pirates?

Any info is good info! Thanks for the help in advance, everyone. I'm excited to see what kind of nautical know-how lurks in the depths of myArmoury.

Connor
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Thu 22 Jul, 2010 9:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alas I have no info to offer save my own opinions, thought I do feel strangely spurred on to made a model of one now Big Grin
As far as I know, they were deeper then longships and constructed in much the same way, but with a turret/keep thing on the fore and aft (front and back?). And by cross the vessel do you mean to another ship or in the same one?
I doubt longships were the primary 'warships' of Northen Europe by the 13thC. but it wouldn't surprise if they were still used locally to go viking now and then. Methinks they had both sails and oars.
With regrads to defending the ship, I think if you'd been at sea long enough you'd be capable of holding your own, the only reason I can think of hiring anyone to protect the ship is if the cargo was rather important. And who needs archers when a few staff's, slings, and clay pots filled with tar or lime or something would do a far better job.
I think most coastal people knew how to swim right?

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Connor Ruebusch




Location: Cincinnati
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PostPosted: Thu 22 Jul, 2010 10:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I mean from one side of the ship to the other. How do the members of the crew cross an open hull with no deck to walk on?
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Darren B. O'Connor





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PostPosted: Thu 22 Jul, 2010 11:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By open hulled, they primarily mean that the cargo hold was not decked over; there was a poop deck at the rear where the captain stood and where the helmsman steered the vessel. Most cogs, I believe, featured a smaller foredeck at the bow as well. To get from the bow to the stern, or vice versa, you simply either had to descend into the hold, or shimmy along the sides. It's probably not as inconvenient as it sounds; most sailors had their particular jobs to do sailing the ship, and didn't need to crawl all over the entire vessel most of the time. For that matter, the earlier knarr, had an open hold as well, that spanned the entire beam of the ship, and separated the decks fore and aft.

Longships were certainly still in use in the eleventh century; you can see some (with fore and stern castles added) on the Bayeaux tapestry, used by Willaim the Conqueror in his crossing of the English Channel in 1066. Harald Hardrada would also have used such vessels in his attempt to invade England that same year. I'm sure they hung on for at least a little while after that. But the cog took over from the knarr as Europe's primary trading vessel because the sternpost rudder offered a real advantage over the earlier steering oar, and as Europe developed economically, more and more coastal cities built better harbor facilities that could handle roomier, deeper draught ships, with deeper keels for better stability. As this happened, there was less and less need for the older, shallow draught Viking-style ships that could be drawn up onto any beach. Since the newer ships could carry more cargo, the old shallow draught ships couldn't compete economically. And this also spelled the end of the longship, because ships with a high freeboard, like the cog, were much harder for attackers to board from a low-in-the-water craft like a longship. This made longships less viable as warships, despite their greater speed and maneuverability. Of course, you could add tall structures to the deck of a longship, like the fore and sterncastles depicted on William's warships on the Bayeux tapestry, but that makes a shallow draught ship like a longship top heavy, and it can capsize in rough seas. If you're going to increase the freeboard, or add tall sterncastles and forecastles, you need a deeper keel (like a cog has), and you lose that ability to draw the ship up onto a beach. But as I said, with harbors getting better all over Europe, that became less important anyway, and the greater cargo area, and higher freeboard were real, definite advantages both for trading vessels and warships.
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Connor Ruebusch




Location: Cincinnati
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PostPosted: Thu 22 Jul, 2010 11:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, awesome Darren. Thanks for the great reply. So there were significant gunwhales or running boards along the side of a cog which a sailor could walk on? Where would one board the ship. Via a gangplank in the middle? And one more thing, what would the steering mechanism for a side rudder look like, such as the ones the earlier ships had? Again, thanks.

Connor
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Darren B. O'Connor





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PostPosted: Thu 22 Jul, 2010 11:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There were internal horizontal frame members along the sides that were wide enough to slide one's toes along while holding onto the gunwales. Depending on the cargo, one could probably just walk over that sometimes as well.

When the ship was at dockside one would, indeed, have boarded via gangplank. Both steering oars and sternpost rudders would have been steered using a simple tiller. Wheels and their associated steering gear didn't become necessary until ships got a lot larger in the post medieval period and the helmsman needed some mechanical assistance to move the rudder. Also the steering oar was always on the starboard (right) side of the ship -- indeed that's why the right side is called "starboard" (as in steer board -- the terms, like a lot of nautical terms in English, come from Old Norse: stýri for rudder, and borð for board). And "port" referring to the left side refers to the general practice of tying up at dockside on the left side of the ship, so as to avoid smashing the steering oar against the quayside. The terms persisted even after the sternpost rudder replaced the steering oar -- long after. Consider that the British Royal Navy didn't adopt the term port until 1844 -- centuries after the steering oar had completely disappeared, and one could as easily moor the ship on either side. The previous word for the left side of the ship was larboard, but the custom of mooring the ship on the left, or port, side of the ship was that strong, even though the practical necessity for doing so had disappeared hundreds of years earlier. (Note that this does not mean that ships never moored on the starboard side; it was/is just the general custom.)
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Martin Wallgren




Location: Bjästa, Sweden
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PostPosted: Fri 23 Jul, 2010 4:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a link to the Cog museum in Malmö
http://www.koggmuseet.se/museet
It is in Swedish but they have promised an english site soon. Some nice pictures of reconstructed medieval ships though.
"Styra" is a ship fram the 14century from the northern baltic sea! It has been reconstructed too but I cant find any pictures of the reconstruction anywhere right now.

Here is an article on the Malmö Ships... http://www.infoartefact.se/fastaknappar/artiklar/artiklar39.html Use a translater like google or something to understand it. The pictures are nice.

http://www.abc.se/~pa/bld/repliker.htm

Here is a inventory of reconstructed nordic ships!

Swordsman, Archer and Dad
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Jeff Del Vecchio





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PostPosted: Fri 23 Jul, 2010 5:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The side rudder was attached by a twisted rope that went through a hole in the side of the ship. Think of it this way: a hollow cone shape (carved from a knot of a tree) protrudes from the side of the ship near the starboard quarter, the rudder is attached by a twisted rope that is passed through the hollow cone and tied to the cross-members of the ship inboard. The tiller is made as a cross member to the top of the rudder plank. Of course, the rope wears out with use, but is easy to see and fairly simple to replace. It is also possible that (at least by the later versions of side-rudder ships) that there was some inequality in the shape of the two underwater sides of the ship, so that the single side rudder is easier to control the direction from only one side. Venetian gondolas are asymetric for this reason. It doesn't take a steersman very long to understand what needs to be adjusted to make the vessel go where he wants it to go. Try paddling a canoe by yourself...confusing at first, but then it begins to make sense.
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Bjorn Hagstrom




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PostPosted: Fri 23 Jul, 2010 5:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can look down into that ship from my office window Happy
Indeed I know some of the people that built it and sails it. This one has a deck though, as well as fore and aft castles. I know that there are reconstructed cogs in some other Hansa-cities in germany and maybe poland?

But I will try to run your questions buy some of the people that where involved in this reconstruction.

Btw, do not hold your breath for an english website. The museum is shut down and the building they have been housed in will be demolished to give room for a new one. The exact faith of the ship and the project is not known to me at the moment, but I know that the ship has been offered up for sale. Not certain that there were any potential buyers. Maybe the Original Poster want to get it for first-hand studies Wink

There is nothing quite as sad as a one man conga-line...
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Darren B. O'Connor





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PostPosted: Fri 23 Jul, 2010 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

BTW Connor, if you're writing a story about the middle ages, and any shipboard action is going to feature in it, there's a little detail you should know that most people unfamiliar with nautical history (as I gather you are not) don't. When you steer a ship with a tiller, you point the tiller in the opposite direction to that in which you want to go. The orders that the captain gives the helmsman will reflect this. If he wants the helmsman to turn the ship to port quickly (or larboard, if you want to be a real stickler for period correctness and use the earlier term), he gives the order to put the tiller "hard a starboard." Accordingly the helmsman moves the tiller over to the right, and the ship turns left.

Ships did not begin to be steered with wheels until the early18th century when, as I said earlier, they got big enough that it was beyond human strength for one or two men to steer the ship with a simple tiller, and he/they needed some mechanical assistance (and before wheels, there was a steering device called a whipstaff, but don't worry too much about that; they wouldn't be found on medieval cogs). Now unlike the tiller, both the wheel and the whipstaff were turned in the same direction you wanted the ship to go -- not the opposite direction like a tiller was -- but the custom of ordering the helmsman to put the wheel in the opposite direction that he wanted the ship to go continued well into the 20th century. In 1912, for example, when Titanic's second officer Murdoch (who was the senior officer on watch at that late hour) became aware they were heading right for an iceberg, he ordered "hard a starboard" and the helmsman turned the wheel, and the ship, to port, which is what Murdoch wanted him to do. That was simply how steering orders were given up until then -- remember what I said earlier about how long-lived naval traditions and terminology are. The Royal Navy didn't change this convention until 1 January, 1933, when they finally got around to bringing the verbal orders given into agreement with the action and its result. It had taken them over two hundred years to do it, but finally, the captain (or senior officer on the bridge) ordered the helmsman to steer in the same direction he wanted the ship to go, not the opposite one. It probably took them so long for the same reason the United States still hasn't switched over to the metric system: it's hard getting a lot of people used to a particular convention to change. Once they've all learned to do things a certain way, they generally want to keep doing it the same way for convenience's sake.

Anyway, if you are writing a story, part of which takes place aboard ships at sea, this may be something you want to keep in mind when you have your captain giving orders.
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Connor Ruebusch




Location: Cincinnati
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PostPosted: Fri 23 Jul, 2010 8:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Man, it never ceases to amaze me the wealth of knowledge that the forumites here possess. Happy Thanks very much everybody. That information about "hard to starboard" is excellent, as well. Do you think it would be fitting to have my captain refer to port as "larboard" since we're talking about 12th or 13th century here?

Hey thanks for that offer Bjorn, that would be really helpful to have some proffessional research opinions.

Also, does anyone know how early the forecastle was put onto cogs? A lot of pictures seem to show the earliest, most knorr-like ones having only uh... sterncastles? Aftcastles? I don't even know the word. Heh... And when did ships start adopting the stern-mounted rudder in favor of the side rudder?

And one more thing, and this is probably especially humiliating for me to not know this... But could someone kindly clear up the port terms for me? What, specifically, are the pier, the dock, the quay, the wharf, etc. And what would medieval examples look like?

Thank you, everybody for your help so far.

Connor
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Connor Ruebusch




Location: Cincinnati
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PostPosted: Fri 23 Jul, 2010 8:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, and one more thing! What about rate of travel? On average, how many miles a day could the average 12th century cog travel? And if that answer has to be in nautical miles, could someone provide me with the equation for the conversion to standard miles?

Connor
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Eric Allen




Location: Texas
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jul, 2010 12:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can't help you with the speed, but:
1 nautical mile =~ 1.15miles.


I'm not a sailor nor a naval historian, but I would assume the distance traveled in a day would be heavily dependent on the speed and direction of the wind and the current, so the answer would be entirely conditional.
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Darren B. O'Connor





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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jul, 2010 1:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The absolute top speed of a cog, under the best conditions, running directly before a strong wind, was probably no more than about ten to twelve knots. Most of the time, they would have been slower. Five to six was probably the average speed. Clipper ships these were not.
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Connor Ruebusch




Location: Cincinnati
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jul, 2010 2:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the prompt responses, guys. So it's safe to say that a cog could cover 300 nautical miles in about three days?

Connor
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Benjamin Larsen




Location: Denmark
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jul, 2010 6:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
So it's safe to say that a cog could cover 300 nautical miles in about three days?


Yes, that it no problem. And to do that distance in 2 days is also possible.

Here are a clip of the sea stallion, a Viking war ship and the museum it is from.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yhwXyjVsVM

http://vikingeskibsmuseet.dk/index.php?id=647&L=1 its in eng.

You btw want archers on bord, it was commen that all on bord had a bow and that the helmsman had a crosbow. (on a viking ship)

Best
Benjamin
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Michael Ekelmann




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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jul, 2010 7:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't recall exactly where, maybe Paddy Griffith's Viking Way of War, but I read in a book that the crown in Sweden stopped the longship levy because the last time they were called out, they were defeated by a fleet of cogs sailing for the the Hanseatic League. Supposedly the higher freeboards gave the cogs a huge advantage in ship to ship combat.
“Men prefer to fight with swords, so they can see each other's eyes!" Sean Connery as Mulay Hamid El Raisuli in The Wind and the Lion
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P. L. Gross




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PostPosted: Sun 25 Jul, 2010 12:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Having a higher freeboard was a huge advantage. Naval combat at the time was not so much between ships as the crews on them. The idea was to shower your target with arrows and javelins, and then hopefully get alongside to board them and clear the decks in melee combat, thus capturing the ship. If the enemy ship had a higher freeboard than yours, then you'd have a hell of a time scrambling up to board it, while they could easily board you by simply jumping down. Alfred the Great purposely had his ships made much larger than the average viking warship for that reason.

-Pete

From his weapons on the open road no man should step one pace away; you don't know for certain when you're on the open road when you might have need of your spear.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 8:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Darren B. O'Connor wrote:
Also the steering oar was always on the starboard (right) side of the ship


Except on Mediterranean ships that had steering oars on both sides! Of course, this has no relevance whatsoever to the discussion about the cog.

The Center for Maritime Archaeology at the Southampton University used to keep an excellent collection of lecture materials on the history of the ship in pre-16th century Europe, including a great deal of information about the remains of sunken cogs and a scale reconstruction of one such ship. They still have the link here: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/archaeology/cma/...story.html but the lecture notes seem to have disappeared somehow. Maybe you could help me (and many others) pester the CMA folks to get their servers straight and make the notes available once more? Politely, of course.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 9:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The longship design remained the standard warship in Norway well into the 14th c. Trade was carried on wider, slower ships known as a Knarr, or, from the 13th c, on cogs.
When King Håkon Håkonson launched his campaign against Scotland in 1263, there where a number of cogs following the fleet as supply ships.

The medevial longships where quite a bit larger than the ones found in the Viking age. A standard "main battle ship" had 20 pairs of oars, with 6-8 men per pair, for a total of 120-160 men. Larger 25-seaters where not uncommon. Håkon Håkonson's flagship was 36(!) seater, carrying 220-280 people.

These ships where the centerpieces of the norwegian "Leidang", or naval leavy, a system that dated back to ca 950. The country was divided into regions, which again where divided into "Skipreider", an area responsible for outfitting and manning a ship.
In this fashion, the king could raise an army or fleet as needed, within a short amount of time. Ships where also esential to warfare in Norway, as distances where great, and Western Norway is all but imposible to attack over land. As a result, kings tended to consolidate their power in west, as any rebel in the east would have to build a fleet before going there...
During the civil wars, the various pretenders would use the Leidang against each other, calling out the forces of whatever part of the country they where curently controlling. This also meant that surpise attacks where often succsessfull, as the defender did not have time to mobilize his leavy.

When preparing for battle, the longships would be fitted with heightened sides, so that one could stand and fight in cover. Shields would be held over the top for aditional cover. As standard equipment, the law required that the ship should have one bow for every second seat. In addition the wealthier soldiers where expected to have their own. The sagas vivedly describe the liberal use of missile weapons, including bows, crossbows, spears, atgeir, javelins and huge amounts of rocks brought along as balast or spesificaly for the purpose.

The standard mode of battle was to tie the ships together side by side, and sail into the enemy (likewise tied together) fleet, so that the bows interlocked. Loose formation fighting also occured, as the situation warranted.

As this system was defined by law, it might also have helped keep the longship design in service. As noted, it was definetly outdated as a fighting platform by the 1300's, mainly because of the reasons mentioned.
Of course, Norway was in general decline at the time, beeing the neglected part of a double monarchy with Sweden.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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