- ISBN/SKU: 9781557506696
- Binding: Hardcover
- Era: Age of Sail
- Number of Pages: 240
- Subject: World Navies
- Date Available: August 1999
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In the Middle Ages, European nations raised land armies to fight their foes. At sea, however, their resources were much more limited and largely dependent on privately owned vessels and their crews. To stimulate the growth and ardor of their fleets, the monarchs of Renaissance Europe offered the crews of their naval vessels and licensed privateers a chance to get rich by plundering enemy ships and cargoes. These actions gave rise to the doctrine and practice of maritime prize--a subject little studied but regularly referred to by the likes of C. S. Forester, Patrick O'Brian, and other popular writers about the era. Now, after a decade of research in European and American archives, Donald Petrie explains the origins of prize taking, the rules of the sea that became universally accepted among the maritime powers of the world, and the final decline of prize taking during the nineteenth century.
Most of the book is devoted to rollicking, never-before-published sea stories about this form of looting that helped define the last century of fighting sail. From the North Cape of Norway to the southern tip of Africa and from Charleston, South Carolina, to the East River of New York, these tales of high-seas adventure span a broad area and period. For readers of warfare in the days of sail, both history and fiction, Petrie has unveiled the mysteries of prize taking in a manner that is highly readable yet thoroughly authentic. His book is the first such study to be published in this country since 1861.