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Guide to Medieval Ships


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#1 kabel

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 02:45 PM

Every now and then people in this here forum attempt to build a ship that coud have floated in the middle ages. In this thread I would like to collect all the cogs, caravells, carracks etc. that have been build so far, as well as give some advice on shapes and techniques.
So first of all, this is not meant as a thread to undermine the Pirate forum but an effort to collect the ships from the castle/pre - classic pirate era. Sometimes people don't realize that there is a huge difference between the earlier and the later ships and thus come up with stuff that doesn't really fit the time frame we're discussing in this forum. Or sometimes people do stuff that from a historical point of view doesn't really a lot of sense.
Here for, instance, we're having a really nice brick built cog, (by Jakob Z.)
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The shape is really nice, but the problem is that this kind of rigging doesn't fit a cog, as cogs were usually one masted! So the rigging depicted here is that of a carrack, a ship that was developed at least 100 years later.
I mean I don't want to be too academic, but sometimes the mistakes bug me a bit. Not only me though!
And last but not least, let's be honest, Lego hasn't been doing such a good job at providing us with the ships we need for our knights!

Middle Ages vs. Pirate Era

Most Historians would agree that the (European) middle Ages started around the year 500 and ended around 1500 (depending on who you ask). The era of piracy Lego refers to would be starting around the year 1600 at the earliest, so that actually leaves us with numerous types and shapes of ships distributed over a time frame of roughly 1100 years. That's a lot of time to cover, so I'll concentrate on the most important ones. As I really don't know every ship ever build, it'd be cool to make this a collabertive effort, sort of like the tree guide.

Around 1000 - Drakar (Viking Ship)

Wikipedia article

View PostSigolf Brimabane, on 10 June 2013 - 09:38 PM, said:

A tip to anyone trying to build a Dreki (what the Vikings called a dragon ship in singular) is to put the rudder/steering oar on the starboard side of the ship. It is not for naught that it is called "styrbord" (steer board), because on that side the steer oar sat :)

Edit: Dreki also means dragon, and it comes from the Latin word "draco". :)


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Drakar by Capt. Green Hair:

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Ca. 1000 to 1400 - Cog

Wikipedia article

The Cog was actually the ship of the High Middle Ages. It's form derived from the Viking ship but it was wider and used only sails for propulsion. Cogs were one masted and square rigged and mostly seen in the northern/northwestern parts of Europe, the realm of the Hanseatic league. Scientists believe it was first build on the shores of the Baltic Sea. However, few complete cogs have been discoverd so far, although the Baltic Sea is actually littered with wrecks. Of the few wrecks that have been excavated, the Cog of Bremen was the best preserved as it was the only one with more than a few hull pieces.

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On medieval city seals you can actually find a lot of cogs with a battlement on the front as well as the stern castle. The Bremen cog however, did neither have a front castle nor any battlements. So most Historians believe that most trading cogs didn't have battlements either, as battlements on a trading ship wouldn't have made a lot of sense. Therefore actual trading cogs looked a little different from what is usually depicted in many pictures. A historically accurate depiction of a cog would actually look more like this:

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View PostSkaForHire, on 11 June 2013 - 08:37 PM, said:

As for the fighting cog, these were mostly rowed at each other, strapped together, and the participants would fight as if on land, until one side was the victor. The battle escapes me at the moment, but during the 100 years war there was an attempt at a mass channel crossing, and this was the largest of these types of naval battles that we know of. Once I find the name I will link it.  Like you pointed out, these fighting cogs had castles on both ends of the ship, usually for archers.  However, most battleships of this era, even on the Atlantic coast were some form of galley, as they could be equipped with a ram, were faster, more maneuverable, and did not require that much precision to build. Since most naval battles happened within earshot of land, they did not need seaworthy vessels, just those that would float long enough to survive the battle, so shallow draft vessels were ideal.

Cog Mocs:

ship by TheBrickAvenger:

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Avalonian trade cog by Legonardo:

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Mitgardian cog by Ecclesiastes:

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Mitgardian cog "Lady Emma" by kabel:

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cog, flickr find:

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Hanseatic Cog by Kris Kelvin:

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Hansa Trad Cog by DNL:

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cog by ciamek (aka Piglet):

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Englisch War Cog by 2 Much Caffeine:

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Ca. 1450 to 1600 Caravel

Wikipedia article

Unlike in the Northern parts of Europe, Mediterranean ship builders went a somewhat different way. The most notable differences were that the planks of the Mediterranean ships did not overlap and, due to Arabian influences, most Southern ships were Lateen rigged. This means that the sails usually had triangular shapes. This way they were able to navigate much better then the ships build by the Northerners.

In the first half of the 15th century, under the advise of Henry the Sailor, the caravel was developed by the Portugese as the ship of choice they used for venturing along the coasts of Africa in order to get to India. The age of exploration actually started as early as 1418! Later caravels were of course much bigger and also had some sqare sails and sometimes up to four masts. But the first caravels had often not more than two masts and only Lateen sails.
The most notable examples of early Caravels were the Pinta and Nina of the Columbus fleet, whereas Columbus' falg ship the Santa Maria was actually a carrack. A currently floating replica early caravel is the Boa Vista, located in Southern Portugal.

View PostSkaForHire, on 11 June 2013 - 08:37 PM, said:

For Caravel, it should be noted that these were really the first non-oar ships in the Mediterranean,  as most ships had been Galleys and Galleas (sp?) in the inner sea since the Phoenicians.  However, what made them unique is the depth of haul, as even galleys were starting to get lateen sails by the later middle ages. The hull depth allowed for two things, carrying more cargo - and more importantly - stabilization on higher waves out at sea. Whereas the longboat or galley would tip over if hit by a  10 foot wave on its side, a caravel would "roll" over the wave because of the buoyancy of the portion of the ship below the waterline. This is what allowed Columbus and the curious Portuguese sailors to get more "daring" in their travels into the Atlantic.


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more and better pics of a Portugese caravel replica by FrankBrickWright

Caravel Mocs:

Caravel "The Tigresa" by Mark of Falworth:

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"Medieval Caravell" by Guss:

pic extension doesn't work Link to topic

Mitgardian caravel "Arandela Negra" by kabel:

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Kaliphlin pirate ship by Legonardo:

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Kaliphlin vessel "The Amazon" by Damaximus:

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Caravel "Pinta" by FrankBrickWright:

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15th to 16th century Carrack

Wikipedia article

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Kaliphlin: Barquonian Interceptor by Sebeus:

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Mitgardian carrack "Rose of Asgard" by kabel:

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Kaliphlin carrack "Golden Swan" by Damaximus:

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Carrack "Santa Maria da Boa Viagem" by FrankBrickWright:

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8th to 17th century galleys:

Wikipedia article

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Kaliphlin galley "The Basilisk's Gaze" by Gabe:

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Nocturnian galley "Wyvern's Cough" by Balthasar:

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Others:

merchant ship by Disco86:

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Kaliphlin fishing boat by gabe:

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Nocturnian "Skeleton Ship" by Hersbrucker:

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Nocturnian: "Minotauren Warship" by Hersbrucker:

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Chines Junk by Arzlan:

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ship fight by timmyboy_yo

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Ship Building Guides and Wip Topics:

How to Build a Frigate by Captain Green Hair
The mother of all ship building tutorials, not medieval, but a good base for any kind of ship.

Caravel tutorial by Horry

WIP Carrack by kabel


Note: This is by no means meant to be a complete list but a mere work in progress! So if you have more medeival/fantasy/castle etc. mocs that were posted here on eb, let me know and I'll add your ships to the list. Thanks

Edited by kabel, 02 December 2013 - 08:37 AM.

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#2 ZCerberus

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 02:48 PM

Nice post kabel.  We need more medieval ships that actually look medieval.  Don't forget about the ship that Guss made just a few posts down on the forum ladder!

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#3 kabel

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 02:53 PM

yeah, I'm workin on that, just had some trouble getting all the flickr links fixed, that's why i'm doing them one by one ...
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#4 Infernum

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 02:54 PM

Wow! Great idea Kabel! Lots of great inspiration! I had no idea... Thanks!
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#5 TheLegoDr

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 04:07 PM

This is a good idea. Castle era needs more ships since not everyone was on land. One thing I liked about the early Black Knight Sea Serpent! Granted, a slightly different scale than these.

But with that said, a lot of people might not be aware of ships being used during all of these times and only think of ships linked to the Piracy era thanks to the attention (and lack thereof) given. I know as a child I never really connected castles with ships as much as pirates with ships, even though ships have been around for quite some time (obviously).

I have a few ships underworks, but none medieval related. I should look into tooling one for some faction. Maybe an updated Sea Serpent. Thanks for the inspiration!
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#6 kabel

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 04:33 PM

darn, there's a typo in the title, Z, would you mind changing it? And, I can't get Guss' pics to work, is there any way to fix that?
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#7 Maxim I

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 05:20 PM

Great job on this Guide!!

but you forgot the mother of all lego ships:

The Quisquiliarum by SI-MOC's
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And maybe, if you consider this enough adapted to be a MOC:

The Golden Swan by Damaximus (I think this kinda looks like a Carrack)
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Kaliphlin has a really nice fleet already :laugh:

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#8 kabel

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 10:46 PM

I guess I'll classify both as others, I'll see.
So what else do you guys think should mentinioned here? I really would like to make this a comprehensive as possible as I would like to ecourage others too to build medeival ships!
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#9 Gideon

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 12:03 AM

Great idea! I had missed quite a few Historica ships (I sadly havn't had time to go through all the old threads).

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#10 Legonardo

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 07:14 AM

is this just historica ships? very handy, Im just about to build another one! :classic:  thanks!

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#11 kabel

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 08:43 AM

@gideon: I searched the word 'ship' in the historica as well as in the history forum and this is what I came up with. Maybe there is the one or the other that I overlooked, but in general people don't build so many medieval ships. Maybe there are some more in the pirate ship index I'll see.
@legonardo: there are also some from the general history forum, not many it seems. So it's time people build more medieval ships! And, so far I'm leading with three, time for you guys to catch up
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#12 Legonardo

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 09:42 AM

ill be up there with you shortly... :grin:
do you know where gabe posted his lovely fishing boat?
EDIT: found it

Edited by Legonardo, 04 June 2013 - 09:48 AM.

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#13 kabel

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 09:50 AM

@LD: here's the link: http://www.eurobrick...howtopic=64342/

I started updating the general information. Please correct me if I write anything incorrect, I'm a geographer not a historian! :wink:
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#14 kabel

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 07:55 PM

found some more ships on flickr, moc pages as well as eb itself, see first page!
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#15 Sigolf Brimabane

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 09:38 PM

A tip to anyone trying to build a Dreki (what the Vikings called a dragon ship in singular) is to put the rudder/steering oar on the starboard side of the ship. It is not for naught that it is called "styrbord" (steer board), because on that side the steer oar sat :)

Edit: Dreki also means dragon, and it comes from the Latin word "draco". :)

Edited by Sigolf Brimabane, 10 June 2013 - 09:38 PM.

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#16 kabel

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 06:42 AM

Thanks Sigolf, I added you comment to the first page. This is actually the way I was thinking how this index could develop. So if others want their two cents of wisdom included, feel free to comment!
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#17 Sigolf Brimabane

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 08:35 PM

Great :D I am thinking of trying to build a ship some day, but it will probably go to the pirates forum :) I would love to get my hands on the Viking ship some day though...
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#18 SkaForHire

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 08:37 PM

I promised I would come make a few notes, and Kabel deserves more bumps for his awesome guide.

There are a few things missing here that I thought needed added. I don't really see anything wrong historically, so all your facts seem to be straight. I also think you probably have not gotten to Carrack and Galley yet, so I will only make a few comments about them.

For Caravel, it should be noted that these were really the first non-oar ships in the Mediterranean,  as most ships had been Galleys and Galleas (sp?) in the inner sea since the Phoenicians.  However, what made them unique is the depth of haul, as even galleys were starting to get lateen sails by the later middle ages. The hull depth allowed for two things, carrying more cargo - and more importantly - stabilization on higher waves out at sea. Whereas the longboat or galley would tip over if hit by a  10 foot wave on its side, a caravel would "roll" over the wave because of the buoyancy of the portion of the ship below the waterline. This is what allowed Columbus and the curious Portuguese sailors to get more "daring" in their travels into the Atlantic.

As for the fighting cog, these were mostly rowed at each other, strapped together, and the participants would fight as if on land, until one side was the victor. The battle escapes me at the moment, but during the 100 years war there was an attempt at a mass channel crossing, and this was the largest of these types of naval battles that we know of. Once I find the name I will link it.  Like you pointed out, these fighting cogs had castles on both ends of the ship, usually for archers.  However, most battleships of this era, even on the Atlantic coast were some form of galley, as they could be equipped with a ram, were faster, more maneuverable, and did not require that much precision to build. Since most naval battles happened within earshot of land, they did not need seaworthy vessels, just those that would float long enough to survive the battle, so shallow draft vessels were ideal.

I will add more if I think of anything, but that is what came to mind after reading the guide.
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#19 MikroMan

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 08:42 PM

A very useful guide :thumbup: Quisquiliarum is awesome!

#20 kabel

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 09:38 PM

Thanks Ska. I added you comments, really interesting facts.
As for the galley and carrack articles, I haven't really gotton to today.
(I had 5 Abitur (a-level) oral exams today so I'm pretty bombed out right now ... )
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#21 SkaForHire

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 09:45 PM

View Postkabel, on 11 June 2013 - 09:38 PM, said:

Thanks Ska. I added you comments, really interesting facts.
As for the galley and carrack articles, I haven't really gotton to today.
(I had 5 Abitur (a-level) oral exams today so I'm pretty bombed out right now ... )

Definitely understood. I hope you passed with flying colors!
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#22 kabel

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 09:50 PM

My students all passed with A's and B's, I was the guy to roast them alive! :wink:
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#23 kabel

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:39 PM

update 12/6: I started adding links to the thumbnails and added two more cogs and a chines junk

and, I need opinions here, do you guys think I should also add galleons, or is that too far into the 16th century/pirate era?

Edited by kabel, 12 June 2013 - 07:42 PM.

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#24 Legonardo

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 06:21 AM

My latest Carrack, the Flight of the Dragons

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#25 Hey Joe

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 01:51 PM

Hey!  Great thread, but the pics are too small in the first post.  Would it be possible to make them bigger?  Thanks!

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