The Info List - Carrack

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A carrack was a three- or four-masted ocean-going sailing ship that was developed in the 14th and 15th centuries in Europe. Developed from the single-masted cog, the carrack was first used for European trade from the Mediterranean to the Baltic and quickly found use with the newly found wealth and status of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In its most advanced forms, it was used by the Portuguese for trade along the African coast and finally with Asia and America from the 15th century before evolving into the galleon of the 16th and 17th centuries. In its most developed form, the carrack was a carvel-built ocean-going ship: large enough to be stable in heavy seas, and for a large cargo and the provisions needed for very long voyages. The later carracks were square-rigged on the foremast and mainmast and lateen-rigged on the mizzenmast. They had a high rounded stern with large aftcastle, forecastle and bowsprit at the stem. As the predecessor of the galleon, the carrack was one of the most influential ship designs in history; while ships became more specialized in the following centuries, the basic design remained unchanged throughout this period.[1]


1 Name 2 Origins 3 In Asia 4 Famous carracks 5 Popular culture 6 See also 7 References 8 Further reading 9 External links


Look up carrack in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

English carrack was loaned in the late 14th century, via Old French caraque, from carraca, a term for a large, square-rigged sailing vessel used in Spanish, Italian and Middle Latin. These ships were called carraca or nau in Portuguese and Genoese, carraca or nao in Spanish, caraque or nef in French, and kraak in Dutch and Flemish.[citation needed] The origin of the term carraca is unclear, perhaps from Arabic qaraqir "merchant ship", itself of unknown origin (maybe from Latin carricare "to load a car" or Greek καρκαρίς "load of timber"). Origins[edit]

Famous nau Frol de la Mar (launched in 1501 or 1502), in the 16th-century "Roteiro de Malaca".

A replica of Nao Victoria, the only one of the five ships of Magellan that returned to Spain in 1522, being the first to circumnavigate the terrestrial globe.

By the Late Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages
the cog, and cog-like square-rigged vessels equipped with a rudder at the stern, were widely used along the coasts of Europe, from the Mediterranean, to the Baltic. Given the conditions of the Mediterranean, galley type vessels were extensively used there, as were various two masted vessels, including the caravels with their lateen sails. These and similar ship types were familiar to Portuguese navigators and shipwrights. As the Portuguese gradually extended their trade ever further south along Africa's Atlantic coast during the 15th century, they needed a larger, more durable and more advanced sailing ships for their long oceanic ventures. Gradually, they developed their own models of oceanic carracks from a fusion and modification of aspects of the ship types they knew operating in both the Atlantic and Mediterranean, generalizing their use in the end of the century for inter-oceanic travel with a more advanced form of sail rigging that allowed much improved sailing characteristics in the heavy winds and waves of the Atlantic Ocean and a hull shape and size that permitted larger cargoes. In addition to the average tonnage naus, some large naus (carracks) were also built in the reign of John II of Portugal, but were only widespread after the turn of the century. The Portuguese carracks were usually very large ships for their time, often over 1000 tons, and having the future large naus of the India run and of the China and Japan
trade, also other new types of design. The origin of the word carrack is usually traced back through the medieval European languages to the Arabic القُرْقُورُ (Al-gurgoor) and from thence to the Greek κέρκουρος (kerkouros) meaning approximately "lighter" (barge) (literally, "shorn tail", a possible reference to the ship's flat stern). Its attestation in Greek literature is distributed in two closely related lobes. The first distribution lobe, or area, associates it with certain light and fast merchantmen found near Cyprus
and Corfu. The second is an extensive attestation in the Oxyrhynchus
corpus, where it seems most frequently to describe the Nile barges of the Ptolemaic pharaohs. Both of these usages may lead back through the Phoenician to the Akkadian kalakku, which denotes a type of river barge. The Akkadian term is assumed to be derived from a Sumerian antecedent. [1] A modern reflex of the word is found in Arabic and Turkish kelek "raft; riverboat".[2] A typical three-masted carrack such as the São Gabriel had six sails: bowsprit, foresail, mainsail, mizzensail and two topsails. In Asia[edit] From around 1515, Portugal
had trade exchanges with Goa
in Portuguese India, consisting of 3 to 4 carracks leaving Lisbon
with silver to purchase cotton and spices in India. Out of these, only one carrack went on to Ming China in order to purchase silk, also in exchange for Portuguese silver. From the time of the acquisition of Macau in 1557, and their formal recognition as trade partners by the Chinese, the Portuguese Crown started to regulate trade to Japan, by selling to the highest bidder the annual "Captaincy" to Japan, in effect conferring exclusive trading rights for a single carrack bound for Japan
every year. That trade continued with few interruptions until 1638, when it was prohibited on the grounds that the ships were smuggling priests into Japan. In the middle of the 16th century the first galleons were developed from the carrack. The galleon design came to replace that of the carrack although carracks were still in use as late as the early 17th century. Famous carracks[edit]

Columbus' Ships (G.A. Closs, 1892): The Santa Maria and Pinta are shown as carracks; the Niña (left), as a caravel.

Model of the carrack Madre de Deus, in the Maritime Museum, Lisbon. Built based on another design, later in Portugal
(1589), she was the largest ship in the world in her time. She had seven decks.

Santa María, in which Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
made his first voyage to America in 1492. São Gabriel, flagship of Vasco da Gama, in the 1497 Portuguese expedition from Europe to India by circumnavigating Africa. Flor do Mar or Frol de la Mar, as it was called, served over nine years in the Indian Ocean, sinking in 1512 with Afonso de Albuquerque after the conquest of Malacca with a huge booty, making it one of the mythical lost treasures. Victoria, the first ship in history to circumnavigate the globe (1519 to 1522), and the only survivor of the Spanish expedition. La Dauphine, Verrazzano's ship to explore the Atlantic coast of North America in 1524. Grande Hermine, in which Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier
first navigated the Saint Lawrence River in 1535. The first European ship to sail on this river past the Gulf. Santo António, or St. Anthony, the personal property of King John III of Portugal, wrecked off Gunwalloe
Bay in 1527, the salvage of whose cargo almost led to a war between England and Portugal. Great Michael, a Scottish ship, at one time the largest in Europe. Mary Rose, Henri Grâce à Dieu
Henri Grâce à Dieu
and Peter Pomegranate, built during the reign of Henry VIII — English military carracks like these were often called great ships. Grace Dieu, commissioned by Henry V. One of the largest ships in the world at the time, she was one of the very first ships to be armed with cannons. Santa Catarina do Monte Sinai, a war ship built in India by the Portuguese Santa Anna, a particularly modern design commissioned by the Knights Hospitaller in 1522 and sometimes hailed as the first armoured ship. Jesus of Lübeck, chartered to a group of merchants in 1563 by Queen Elizabeth. Jesus of Lübeck
Jesus of Lübeck
became involved in the Atlantic slave trade under John Hawkins. Madre de Deus, which was seized by the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
off Flores Island. Built in Lisbon
during 1589, she was the world`s largest ship. She was captured by the English in 1592 with an enormously valuable cargo from the East Indies
East Indies
that is still considered as the second-largest treasure ever found. She was supposedly renamed and used as an English ship from thence onward. Santa Catarina, Portuguese carrack which was seized by the Dutch East India Company off Singapore
in 1603. Nossa Senhora da Graça, Portuguese carrack sunk in a Japanese attack near Nagasaki in 1610 Peter von Danzig, ship of the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
in 1460s-1470s. La Gran Carracca, the ship of the Order of St. John
Order of St. John
during their rule over Malta.[3]

Popular culture[edit] The word caracca and derivative words is popularly used in reference to an cumbersome individual, to an old vessel, or to a vehicle in a very bad condition.[3] See also[edit]

Medieval ships Portuguese India
Portuguese India
Armadas Galleon


^ Konstam, A. (2002). The History of Shipwrecks. New York: Lyons Press. pp. 77–79. ISBN 1-58574-620-7.  ^ Gong, Y (1990). "kalakku: Überlegungen zur Mannigfaltigkeit der Darstellungsweisen desselben Begriffs in der Keilschrift anhand des Beispiels kalakku". Journal of Ancient Civilizations. 5: 9–24. ISSN 1004-9371.  ^ a b Cassar Pullicino, Joseph (October–December 1949). "The Order of St. John in Maltese folk-memory" (PDF). Scientia. 15 (4): 174. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 April 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

Kirsch, Peter (1990). The Galleon. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-546-2.  Nair, V. Sankaran (2008). Kerala Coast: A Byway in History. (Carrack: Word Lore). Trivandrum: Folio. ISBN 978-81-906028-1-5. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Carracks at Wikimedia Commons The dictionary definition of carrack at Wiktionary The Development of the Square-Rigged Ship: from the carrack to the full-rigger Computer modeling of a Portuguese carrack

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Balinger Birlinn Cog Hulk Knarr Koch Kondura Longship Shitik

15th c.

Carrack Chinese treasure ship Caravel Hoy Trabaccolo

16th c.

Crommesteven Galiot Galleon Galleass Flyboat Fluyt Full-rigged pinnace Lorcha Man-of-war Patache Square-rigged
caravel (round or de armada) Xebec

17th c.

Bermuda sloop Corvette East Indiaman Frigate Galeas Koff Pinisi Polacca Ship of the line

18th c.

Bilander Clipper
(Baltimore Clipper) Gallivat Grab Gundalow 74-gun Ship of the line Sloop-of-war Spéronare Trincadour

19th c.

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