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Man-of-War/History

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The Man-of-War was a fully sailing ship that relied almost entirely on its sails, as opposed to earlier ships, such as the Galley. Although popular culture today holds such a ship to be a distinct breed of its own, in reality, the term itself could refer to any vessel that was heavily armed and powered wholly by sails. Even a large frigate with sufficiently powerful guns could count as one.

Popular confusions aside, what cannot be denied was that the 18th century was a busy time for arms manufacturers and engineers, and out of the sustained colonial conflicts between European powers emerged a new and powerful ship meant primarily to dominate marine combat, in the form of warships that could host multiple gun decks and guns alike, 12-pounders being the smallest, with the largest being the hefty 68-pounder guns that could cause major damage to enemy ships. Such a ship was called a ship of the line because of the expectation that it would be used primarily for hostile encounters (ie in the "front line" of duty), with frigates providing the logistical and intelligence services needed. Ships-of-the-line could host as many as three decks.

Ships of this type included the legendary HMS Victory, flagship of Lord Horatio Nelson at the decisive Battle of Trafalgar; and the Ottoman and French battleships Mahmudiye (c 1829CE, slightly larger than HMS Victory) and Valmy (1847CE), and they continued to be used well until the late 19th century when the onset of mechanisation and the creation of rifled guns meant that time was running out for these timber titans of the ocean. Today, while Victory is still preserved as a war memorial, both Mahmudiye and Valmy have since been scrapped.

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