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Galleys, Xebecs, and Galleases. When did they become obsolete?


Ame

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Reading about the history of the galley one thing I wonder is; when exactly was the galley obsolete as a fighting vessel? By galley I mean all oared warships; so it includes the precious archipelago frigates Sweden and Russia used in the Baltic Sea against each other to the end of the 18th century.

 

At what point did they become so hopelessly useless as a military vessel that the ability to go against weather, possible speed and some advantage in pursuing civilian vessels in the Mediterranean, Black, and Baltic sea no longer justify keeping them as an effective force in anything but name? 

 

Obviously 1748 is a good date to start for an answer; but could a galley have been considered useful as anything besides a hellish prison prior to that? If not what was the real (as opposed to official) date when they became obsolete before that, 

 

I just have a problem imagining ships that a medieval sailor would recognize weren't obsolete before 1748, and wondering if someone with more knowledge of Mediterranean Naval History then me could say when the real date of they became obsolete as a weapon of war to the point of no longer being used/seeing action was, or if I'm wrong tell me how they could have remained useful for war in 1735.

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The Spanish and French also continued to use massive galley corps

to 1748; which is why I am wondering if during the 18th and 17th century they were a real military asset or just a hell on earth prison system built by Europe's monarchs.

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The evolution from galley to galleon was slow, but the improvement in naval battles was immediately seen.

As an example you can check on the web the details of the Battle of Lepanto, which was fought between the Christian fleet against the Muslim fleet.

It was still a galleys naval battle, but the key factor for the victory was the presence of six "galeazze" of the Venetian Republic.

These were big galleys, pretected on sides too, and armed with cannon also on both sides. the galleys usually were armed with cannons only on the bow.

the "galeazza" was the first step to the evolution to the galleon.

You can find many details on internet regarding this naval battle, since it is very famous.

In those period existed already ships armed with some cannons, but were mainly merchant ships with some self defense arms or mechant ships converted for military use.

The "galeazza" was a slow ship, so it cannot be used in the same way of the galleys and cannot withstand open sea like a galleon.

The next step was the galleon, projected specifically for war and that can sail more freely in open sea.

The presence of galleys in period later than 1700 is related only on specific duties on specific type of sea.

For example for "patrolling" croatian coasts by venetians.

their influence on naval battles ceased to exist, but still existed for coastal patrol and small escort duties along coasts.

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