Catalan Review

THE LEXICON OF NAVAL TACTICS IN RAMON MUNTANER’S CRÒNICA

Catalan Review (2003), 17, (2), 177–192.

Abstract

Common Romance terms underlie naval maneuvering in the thirteenth-century Mediterranean, although a distinctive Catalan vocabulary emerged early on. Afrenellar was used of linking galleys at stem and stern by cables in order to keep ships at a uniform distance. Historians have speculated that this notion of “bridling” was extended to oar handling. Galley oars would have been drawn in amidships, reversed, then extended to adjacent vessels and lashed in place to create impromptu fighting platforms and block the passage of enemy ships. Yet in the documented instances, the bridle or check in question is a simple device placed over the looms to hold the raised oar at a uniform height from the sea surface, prompting the Venetian image of a galley as a double comb. Historical speculation on the naval encounters of the War of the Sicilian Vespers must be informed by an accurate understanding of the technical vocabulary.

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Author details

Sayers, William