Source 8 of 8: Flagship of the Queen's navy

 

 

Source Details
This is a woodcut of a ship which is believed to be The Ark Royal. 

Context
The ship can be identified by a number of features, such as the stern lantern and the flags. One bears the coat of arms of Lord Howard of Effingham, when he was Lord Admiral. The ship has four masts and 50 guns. It is a fine example of the new design of English warship which were 'race built' for greater speed and manoeuvrability. Compared to the older design it looks sleeker and less top heavy. This ship was built for Sir Walter Raleigh, with the wealth he had acquired as a courtier. He called it Ark Raleigh and had great faith in the new design, which was rewarded by the ship's successful career as a warship.

Puzzled?
Soon after its launching, in Deptford in 1587, Queen Elizabeth acquired the ship in part payment of Raleigh's debts and renamed it the Ark Royal. She was then used as the flagship of the naval campaign against the Armada, under the command of Lord Howard of Effingham. The Ark Royal, at 540 tons, was not the largest ship in the Queen's navy but she was well built, fast and manoeuvrable. The advantage of these ships against the heavy Spanish ships, with their armed castles, was that they could fire broadsides, with cannon placed along the length of the ship, and that they were lighter and more manoeuvrable in windy conditions.