When Henry VIII came to power, England had only a small navy. During his reign Henry spent a great deal of money building up a large fleet to defend the kingdom.
Life at sea was risky and dangerous, but it also offered, fame and riches. From the end of the 15th century English sailors started on a series of daring and dangerous expeditions.
There are several reasons why the Tudors might have decided to explore. These included:
- the excitement of traveling to new places where no British people had ever been.
- to become rich by finding new places to trade and to bring back expensive goods like spices, silk and precious metals.
- to find a new place to live where they would be able to practise their religion in freedom. People in Tudor times were very religious. It must have been very hard for them during the 118 years the Tudor kings and Queens ruled because they were often forced to change their religion depending on the religion of the reigning monarch.
- to find a better place to live.
How did people explore the world in Tudor times?
There were no planes, trains or cars. Tudor explorers used sailing ships. They were powered by the wind and each voyage could take several years.
What were Tudor ships called?
The ships used in Tudor times were called galleons. These were very large ocean going ships, four times as long as they were wide. They had a special deck for cannons. They were broad, slow and not very manoeuvrable.
What did Tudor Sailors eat?
Tudor sailors spent many days out of sight of land and so had to take food with them that would last. There was no fresh food. They preserved food by drying, salting, smoking and pickling and they took food which kept naturally, like nuts. Food was often infested with worms and other creatures.
The sailors did not eat fresh food and so were often short of vitamins, which led to diseases like scurvy making their teeth fall out and giving them lots of sores.
What was life on board a Tudor Ship like?
Life was very cramped living on tudor ships and the sailors lived in these conditions for many months and sometimes even years. The sailors often slept on the deck and had only the clothes they wore.
The ships were often dirty and were infested with mice.
- More trade
- Discovery of tobacco
- Discovery of potatoes and maize
- Better knowledge of the world
- Colonising other countries
- More accurate maps
- Better ship building
- Better navigation