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The Sinking of the Mary Rose 1545: King Henry VIII and the Battle of Solven

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Another part of Tudor's history is from England and King Henry VIII. His favorite ship, the Mary Rose lost in battle.

Battle of Solvent

Battle of Solvent

Southsea Castle Portsmouth England

Southsea Castle Portsmouth England

History of the Mary Rose

King Henry VIII was known for his need to be winning at wars on the sea. So he commissioned the Mary Rose to built-in1511. The ship was a 110', 6000-ton carrack that would serve the king in battles for 34 years. The ship was in two wars with France and one with Spain. It was the first ship in Henry's fleet to carry new guns. Vice-Admiral Sir George Carew (1504-1545 with Master of the ship Roger Grenville would drown with 500 men in the battle of Solvent.

France had 200 ships with 30,000 soldiers to Henry's 80 ships with 12,000 soldiers. Henry had spent the night dining at Southsea Castle and in the morning watched the battle begin. Then, in horror, he watched his ship, the Mary Rose, sink within minutes with 500 lives lost. Only 30 soldiers survived. The morning had little wind, and as the Mary Rose fired her cannons, she was maneuvering around the fire the port side cannons when a gust of wind with the cannon windows opened and water gushed in as she tilted and sank.

Mary Rose Sank 1545

Mary Rose Sank 1545

Mary Rose Sinking 1545

Mary Rose Sinking 1545

The Search For The Mary Rose

When the Mary Rose sunk in 1545 with most of the 500 men drowned, it was not until 1965 when diver and historian Alexander McKee created the Project Solvent to find and discover the lost ship. Unfortunately, there were no names of the soldiers who drowned with the ship; only numbers were given. McKee created Project Solvent in the quest to find and raise Mary Rose. He was not an archaeologist and knew he would need one, so he hired Margaret Rule, a well-known archaeologist. But first, she would have to learn to dive, which she did.

McKee, in his research, had found records of the Dean brothers who had discovered the ship in 1836 but lost the position of the ship. Then, in 1970, an iron gun was found, and eight months later, the ship was located. It would take some 20,000 excavations to bring up the artifacts totaling 19,000 of them. And, in 1982, with some sixty million watching TV, the Mary Rose was brought to the surface.

Over 19,000 Artifacts Recovered

Among the artifacts recovered were backgammon games, dice, inkwells, clothing, shoes, fiddles, bows, pipes, surgical tools, and, wooden chests. They were all carefully cleaned and preserved. The bones of 179 individuals and isotype and DNA analysis of the bones and teeth revealed that the diversity of the crew included men from other countries with rickets and arthritis prevalent.

Cutaway of Mary Rose

Cutaway of Mary Rose

Reconstructed Faces of Crew of Mary Rose

Reconstructed Faces of Crew of Mary Rose

Portsmouth Historic Museum

The discovery and excavation of the Mary Rose are considered one of the most historical events of England. The Museum is located at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, revealing a time capsule of Tudor life and how they lived at the time. Even the ship's dog, called "Hatch," has his bones on display. In addition, the Museum has interactive exhibits and guides to answer questions with glass exhibitions to peer into the hull of the Mary Rose. It is suggested to allow one to two hours to wander through the Museum. Of particular interest is the actual cut-away of the ship.

Millions visit this artfully Museum giving the public a birds-eye view into the sixteenth century.

Portsmouth Museum

Portsmouth Museum

Display of Mary Rose

Display of Mary Rose

Mary Rose Cannon

Mary Rose Cannon

Mary Rose Displays

Mary Rose Displays

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