Friday, May 12, 2017

Madrid's Naval Museum

Last year I hit the big museums: the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofía as well as the Museum of the Americas. So this year I planned on skipping them entirely (well, I might get back to the Prado as it is simply too enormous to see in a visit--or two). But as I was in the neighbourhood, I popped into the Museo Naval the other day. I have been learning from the Cambridge history of Spain that it was a very important merchant naval power in the Middle Ages. The reason was that, as they had both Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, they became a very important trading nation between England, Holland, Belgium and Italy. In fact, they introduced the idea of maritime insurance to northern Europe after it was invented by the Italians. The Spanish learned how to build ships that could navigate both Mediterranean and Atlantic waters. They built excellent ships and that was likely one reason they were the ones to discover the New World. The English particularly liked capturing Spanish-built ships during the Napoleonic wars because they were better built than English ones. So I was curious to see the museum. Turned out, it was easy to spot:

I didn't get a lot of good shots inside because I used my iPhone 5c camera, which is not as good in low light. I will try to remember this next time! Here is a model of a Medieval Spanish ship, thirteenth or fourteenth century:

A little cannon, from the Middle Ages:

Three little cannons:

And a couple of big ones, a ball from those will leave a mark:

This cabinet of swords took two shots to get it all in:

Some crossbows and arquebuses (archebi?) which were used in the 15th century:

Some of the ship models were very large. This is Nuestra Señora de la Concepción y de las Ánimas, with 90 cannons dating from around 1700:

They built lovely ships:

Here are some high-tech navigational instruments from the 16th through 18th centuries:

And the explanatory caption:

That's probably enough Naval history for today!


Will Wilkin said...

Bryan, the same luthier who I previously linked (to show you gitterns are still being made!)

is also standing by, ready to build you a model of the HMS Centurion. As a subject of the Queen, I am aghast that you would so openly admire Spanish ships!

Bryan Townsend said...

Just following in the steps of the Royal Navy captains during the Napoleonic Wars who were very complimentary towards the Spanish shipbuilders, if not their officers!