Sinking of the Mary Rose


History on 19th July

Sinking of the Mary Rose

Portsmouth, Hampshire The 19th of July 1545 AD

The Pope was against Henry VIII; Emperor Charles V had outmanoeuvred his erstwhile ally and made separate peace with the French; French troops had already landed on the Isle of Wight ; a fleet more than twice the size of the navy Henry VIII could gather, was poised to destroy English sea-power; 50,000 French troops were ready to invade these shores. As if that picture were not bleak enough, Henry then lost his flagship, the carrack Mary Rose , in a most inglorious manner.
After attacking the French fleet from long-range on July 18 1545, leaving the shelter of Portsmouth, the English ships made for port again, where the following day the more mobile French gun-galleys moved to attack, taking advantage of the lack of wind early in the day. Henry watched on from Southsea Castle . As evening approached the sea-breeze grew, filling English sails, offering an opportunity to fight on better terms.
Mary Rose sailed into position to use her cannon, and according to most reports fired the guns on one side, then attempted to turn rapidly to present the ordnance on the other. A gust of wind caught her sails and the ship heeled over; gun-ports which should have been closed remained open, and near the water-line to boot. Water flooded the ship making recovery impossible; even the men who managed to reach the deck were caged there by netting meant to prevent boarding. It is estimated there were more than 400 men on board; only 35 escaped.
In spite of this loss, and the formidable French force, Francis I soon withdrew. What was a terrible tragedy then has proved a boon to us now: on October 11 1982 Mary Rose was raised, the artefacts within a treasure trove for historians.

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