Mary Rose: Facts and Information About the Tudor Warship

Here are some facts about the Mary Rose, the famous warship of the Tudor King Henry VIII.

  • Construction of the Mary Rose began in 1510, and the ship was launched in 1511. It was built in Portsmouth.
  • It was a ship built for war and it was armed with a variety of iron and cast bronze guns. The ship also carried a supply of pikes (very long spears) – to defend the ship against enemies trying to board it, longbows and a few matchlock muskets.
  • Another large warship was built at the same time as the Mary Rose. This ship was called the Peter Pomegranate, probably named in honour of St Peter and Catherine of Aragon (the pomegranate was part of her coat of arms).
  • Many people believe that the Mary Rose was named in honour of Henry VIII’s sister, Mary Tudor. This idea has been questioned by some historians. They think it is more likely that the Mary Rose was named in honour of the Virgin Mary and Henry VIII himself (the rose being the Tudor symbol).
  • In peace time it is thought that the Mary Rose was crewed by less than 20 people. In times of war, however, the number of people on board would rise to 400 or more (sailors, soldiers, trumpeters and staff).
  • The Mary Rose first experienced battle in 1512 against the French. In 1522 the ship was used to escort troops.
  • The Mary Rose led the attack on the French fleet (who were intending to land troo[s to invade England) in the Battle of the Solent on 19th July 1545. Something happened to the Mary Rose when it engaged the French ships in combat. The ship began to take on water and it quickly started to sink. Over 90% of its crew lost their lives.
  • It is thought that the cause of the Mary Rose’s sinking wasn’t any actions by the enemy, but rather a freakishly strong wind combined with the ship making a sharp turn at just the wrong moment. This lead to the gun ports on the main deck dipping underwater, and the ship taking on massive quantities of water.
  • The Tudors tried to salvage the Mary Rose a few days after it was sunk. they were only successfulin recovering some guns and rigging. Other attempts were made in 1547 and 1549.
  • In 1836 a group of fisherman in the Solent rediscovered the Mary Rose after their nets got snagged on some timbers sticking out of the seabed. Henry Abbinett, a locla diver, became the first person in nearly three hundred years to see the Mary Rose, when he dived to inspect the wreck.
  • In 1971 the exact location of the wreck of the Mary Rose had been pinpointed. Excavation work started in 1978 and the the ship was fully recovered and raised from the seabed on 11th October 1982.
  • There were many finds from the wreck of the Mary Rose. These included: over 20,000 pieces of timber, casks for food and drink storage, woodworking tools,  cannons, weapons, musical instruments, navigational equipment, surgeons tools and much more.
  • The timbers of the Mary Rose have been exposed to a high-tech conservation process. Drying watterlogged wood without damaging it and destroying its form is really hard and time-consuming. The last phase of the conservation programme takes place in 2015.

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