Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Energy Special, Part 4: How Energy Allowed Britannia to Rule the Waves

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  • andrew llewellyn,

    Surprisingly, however, a closer examination of this green and pleasant land reveals a number of plausible reasons why England (and later, Great Britain) had all the right ingredients to make such an outcome possible.

    The Celts?

    Since Nov 2006 • 2073 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The Celts?

    They don't burn very well. Too soggy.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6165 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Another grand story and another brick in the theory.
    Polynesian navigation and seamanship was remarkable. In fact the use of sails to tack against the wind may have originated rather closer to Alexandria, however. See, eg: this link which suggests lateen sails most probably originated somewhere around the Red Sea.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1546 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Are those advantages really peculiar to England? Iberia has all those advantages too - and that's why Spain and Portugal were serious contenders with the English for imperial dominance.

    (Iberia also is rich in those important Celts...)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2948 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Royal Britania - bollocks

    How can you talk of world exploration and not mention Admiral Zheng He

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zheng_He
    OK 1421 has a bit of bollocks in it too. But these guys bathed and were cultured beyond beyond their bacteria, unlike the English.

    Australia & NZ were only "discovered" because England needed another dumping ground for its trash (prisoners - we got a few planned & unplanned) now the Americas were revolting. And cities like Bath built on the backs of African Slaves.

    Resources are one thing the economic power to realise them is another - & that's where Slavery built the British Empire & individual fortunes.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Australia & NZ were only "discovered" because England needed another dumping ground for its trash

    I'm sorry Michael, that's nonsense. Depending on which theory of discovery you follow, the reasons alter, but none of them had to do with convicts.

    Tasman sailed here under the orders of the United East India Company, so nothing to do with England at all. He was looking for new shipping routes and trade possibilities.

    Cook was here over a century later hired by the Royal Society to track the path of Venus, and then to search for the mythical 'great southern land'. His journey was driven by the scientific community.

    There's recently been material about the Chinese discovering NZ first, obviously disputed. Clearly nothing to do with the English though.

    Australia was used to dump 'trash' with convicts for a while. New Zealand was never used to dump trash, though certainly a fair bit of trash did make it here under their own steam - whalers and sealers and so forth. The main organised settlements originating from England were the Wakefield settlements, and they were about leaving behind the depravity and pollution in England, and setting up a better, more ideal lifestyle in this new land. The people who came certainly weren't trash.

    The crown didn't intervene in New Zealand much until it appointed a resident. Largely that was because they were becoming aware, through missionaries, that non-natives were causing all sorts of problems with disease, trade in guns and alcohol, crime etc, and they were asked to help.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6165 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Rob Stowell wrote:

    In fact the use of sails to tack against the wind may have originated rather closer to Alexandria, however.

    Thanks for your comments, Rob. It seems that few inventions are as disputed as the development of the lift-type sails -- everyone claims them! But from my research I'd have to award it to the Austronesians or (at the very least) the Polynesians. If you look at their settlement patterns & dates it's hard to see how it would have been possible without lift-type sails (although they didn't use lateen sails, of course) well into the BCs. But I've certainly seen the Arabs/Persians/etc. credited with it -- even in engineering textbooks. But, of course, we don't have direct written evidence as with the Arabs/Persians/etc.

    The website you link to is interesting, but makes a couple of odd claims, e.g.

    It is interesting to notice that in the north of Europe, during the 1400's, ships were only square rigged and were entirely dependent on a fair wind. They were quite unstable, and were never used to attempt to make headway against an adverse wind and thus were unable to make long journeys to cross oceans.

    The above is quite incorrect. The square Viking sails could be used to generate lift with the tacking spar, and of course, the Vikings had reached North America by the turn of the last millennium!

    Stephen Judd wrote:

    Are those advantages really peculiar to England? Iberia has all those advantages too - and that's why Spain and Portugal were serious contenders with the English for imperial dominance.

    You're absolutely right, Stephen -- and the Dutch, etc. too. I did qualify my claims of "had all the right ingredients" with "... and Western Europe in general", but perhaps I should have emphasized that a little more. The main point of difference shall become clear in the next episode (playing in around a week) when I talk about the role of coal in the 1700s -- what Britain did was radically different in scale to any other country (although Sweden also did pretty astounding things).

    Michael Fitzgerald wrote:

    [The Chinese] bathed and were cultured beyond beyond their bacteria, unlike the English.

    Certainly... and I did actually mention the "more advanced civilizations in Asia: in particular, China.". I mention China a bit in next week's episode, too.

    OK 1421 has a bit of bollocks in it too

    Quite a bit, I'd say.

    Slavery built the British Empire & individual fortunes...

    This was often claimed in old history texts, but modern research has rather exploded this idea. Slave trade profits were less than one per cent of British national income between 1688 and 1800. For example, see: Morgan, K. (1999) The birth of industrial Britain : economic change 1750-1850. Longman, London, page 71-73.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 983 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    I do beg to differ.
    The need for the Great Southern Land started with "The revolutionary era began in 1763, when the military threat to the English colonies from France ended."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_revolution

    Cook to Oz & NZ 1769/70
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_New_Zealand

    Although not on wiki we did have 4 convicts and then another 9 or 12 youth offenders who went on a murder spree on the West Coast of the South Island finally being caught in Nelson.
    Our claims of "pure" settlement are similar to that of South Australia who claim the same. Of course they were part of NSW and hve chosen to disown their history.

    The Chinese don't recognise Zheng He as coming to NZ and to use the Moeraki boulders as proof in 1421 was hmm bollocks.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Cheers David will do

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The need for the Great Southern Land started with "The revolutionary era began in 1763, when the military threat to the English colonies from France ended."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_revolution

    Well that's a page that talks about the American Revolution, and doesn't mention the great southern land. The bit outside the quote you've added to a stand alone sentence which doesn't relate to the first part at all. That's not evidence, that's misleading use of quotations.

    If you have to misuse wikipedia quotations, you're really stretching it.

    Although not on wiki we did have 4 convicts and then another 9 or 12 youth offenders who went on a murder spree on the West Coast of the South Island finally being caught in Nelson.

    There's nothing there to prove your original point about NZ being discovered because England needed a dumping ground for trash. Assuming we accept the commonly held view that Abel Tasman discovered NZ, it had nothing to do with England, it was a Dutch voyage.

    The first English here, after Captain Cook were Whalers, Sealers and then missionaries. They all knew New Zealand was here, so they can't be said to have "discovered" it in any meaning of the word, but anyway.

    Some of the whalers and sealers were trashy, but they came from a variety of places, they weren't there under any authority from the English or any other government, and they mostly didn't come with any settlement plans, most of them came, plundered, traded, and left again. Those that did stay, did so of their own free will, and weren't dumped here at all by England.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6165 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    The Celts?

    They don't burn very well. Too soggy.

    We burn heaps better after marinating in whisky.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2073 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Cheers David- and erm, I 'fess up to linking to something after a cursory google: one of the fresher social faux pas- sort of like using "gay" in one of it's three current meanings, with a member of the wrong generation!
    Certainly the Vikings had the technology, tho the square sails weren't ideal, (neither was the lateen) and viking craft could be paddled/rowed fairly long distances by their large (for the tonnage) crews.
    The wiki article on the lateen sail credits it's independent discovery in polynesia, which is interesting as I'd always assumed there was a link. Together with out-riggers/multi-hulls, it was an amazing tool.
    And what the polynesians did with it- setting off into the enormity of the Pacific, against the prevailing winds- has been best likened to space travel. Mind-boggling.
    Thinking of Bart's question: any ideas as to what happened to the technology after arrival in Aotearoa? How was wind-power being used in the later (1300-1800) period of Maori history? Single-hulled vessels, which by then predominated, must have been better in some ways for inshore work, and coast-hopping.
    Sympathy re the "colic" (I'm not quite sure what that names, but it's definitely real). I'm not sure why it's predominately first-born kids, but it puts ya through the wringer. We had a projectile vomiter as well: quite spectacular when it hit the wall. Holding, patting, rubbing, and above all, endless midnight pacing were the best- really the only- solutions. Quite hard to sleep while striding around a small room- but at least without the wailing, one partner can doze....

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1546 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Kyle historical chats via wiki will always be a bit limited.

    Social/political pressures built up in the States & they were less inclinded to accept transported prisoners. Then as today prisoners don't matter to free men. So too Oz resisted prisoners once they got a generation or two on the ground.

    Science plays a big part in gaining Resources - one being prisons/plantaions.
    The time line works and there is proof - promise I'm not plucking this one.

    Free will v potatoe famine or Bloody Prussia kicking up bobsie die = not really free will.

    NZ also had a few indenture labourers - part of the continum of slavery - a way of white settlers to pay off their fare to a new land. By comparison Indian Indentured labourers in fiji were never intended to stay.

    On that I see a Thai (indentured?) labourer died in those vine yards we are so proud of.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Rob Stowell wrote:

    ... social faux pas -- sort of like using "gay" in one of it's three current meanings, with a member of the wrong generation!

    Oh, you've done that too... glad I'm not the only one!

    Certainly the Vikings had the technology, tho the square sails weren't ideal...

    Yep, one of the more enjoyable bits of research I did for this programme was reading A Viking Voyage: In Which an Unlikely Crew of Adventurers Attempts an Epic Journey to the New World by W.H. Carter. Carter spends a lot of time discussing the joys of tacking a replica turn-of-the-millennium Viking ship out of narrow fjords in Greenland.

    ... any ideas as to what happened to the technology [for ocean-crossing canoes] after arrival in Aotearoa? How was wind-power being used in the later (1300-1800) period of Maori history? Single-hulled vessels, which by then predominated, must have been better in some ways for inshore work, and coast-hopping.

    When I used to lecture on the history of engineering at UoC, we had a guest lecturer (Dr Alan Papesch) spend a couple of hours on pre-European Maori Engineering -- really fascinating stuff (and now that I think of it, maybe I should do an episode on the subject). I seem to recall him saying that double-hulled sailing waka were observed in NZ by Cook (but don't quote me on that), so it's possible that they only finally vanished with the introduction of European-type craft. I imagine that single-hulled waka might be advantageous for river/estuary/harbour/coastal work in terms of ease of paddling -- but this is just speculation on my part.

    An interesting (but obscure) point is that apparently both the Maori/Polynesian sail (ra) and paddle (hoe) were lift-based devices -- also the hulls of outrigger waka were produced with asymmetric hydrodynamics so that the two hulls were balanced when paddling. As I recall, the ra were like an upside-down lateen sail, i.e. with the narrow bit at the bottom.

    Furthermore, the Maori dimpled the last few metres of their waka hulls (like a golf ball), so as to re-energize the boundary layer and reduce drag (which apparently worked really well at the speeds that waka typically travelled). The effect of the dimpling was well understood by canoe designers and they conducted sea-trials to optimize the extent of the dimpling for each waka. It could probably be argued (and Dr Papesch did) that pre-European Maori knew more about hydrodynamics than Europeans of that time.

    But I digress...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 983 posts Report Reply

  • reece palmer,

    Hi Public Address,
    I haven't posted in ages which some of you may consider a great favour so,

    *lodges cotton wool in cheek*

    "Now maybe you can do me a favour"

    The school I work at has entered and has made the final five of a competition to create and produce a song around the integrated use of ICT in our school and classroom. There is a rather large portion of prize action up for grabs and I'd like you to help us win it. If you go to the url below,

    http://contest.interwritelearning.com/contestant/90/

    and vote for us I'd be ever so greatful. You have to create an account to vote which will cost nothing but a little of you time and an email addy. You get to watch a video which is based around our school and stars some of our kids and some guy who shall remain nameless, heh.

    P.S. I'm going to spam this message on loads of threads and if this irritates you, I do apologise.

    the terraces • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Kyle historical chats via wiki will always be a bit limited.

    The time line works and there is proof - promise I'm not plucking this one.

    Perhaps it would help if you referenced your claims - online or offline. Your claims aren't backed up by any historical scholarship that I know of, and working in a history department, I see a reasonable bit.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6165 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Kyle have a chat in the coffee room & see if anyone agrees.
    The proof will be in American Colonies rejection of transported prisoners (prior to revolution) & the subsequent actions of England as demonstrated by the time line. Your ball from here run with it if you wish.
    I believe history is everyones concern, even IT support.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The proof will be in American Colonies rejection of transported prisoners (prior to revolution) & the subsequent actions of England as demonstrated by the time line. Your ball from here run with it if you wish.

    So no references at all? That's what I thought.

    I believe history is everyones concern, even IT support.

    That's good use of google, but it's "IT and Research Support". As backed up by my two history degrees.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6165 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Feel free to quote me Kyle ;)

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Some much awaited wiki wisdom - but still feel free to quote me.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penal_transportation

    Transportation punished both major and petty crimes in Great Britain and Ireland from the 17th century until well into the 19th century. At the time it was seen as a more humane alternative to execution, which would most likely have been the sentence handed down to many of those who were transported, if transportation had not been introduced. From the 1620s until the American Revolution the British colonies in North America received transported British criminals, effectively double the period that Australian colonies subsequently received convicts. The American Revolutionary War brought an end to that means of disposal, and with the remaining British colonies in what is now Canada being periously close to the new United States of America sending people who might easily become hostile to British authorities there was not an option. Thus, the British Government was forced to look elsewhere.

    The gaols became more overcrowded and dilapidated ships were brought into service, the 'hulks' moored in various ports as floating gaols.

    Transportation from Britain ended officially in 1868, although it had become unusual several years earlier.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Some much awaited wiki wisdom - but still feel free to quote me.

    A page that doesn't mention 'New Zealand' or 'discover/y' - I'm not sure how that advances your argument on the reasons for NZ's discovery.

    And you still haven't provided an explanation as to how your theory that both countries were "discovered" by England for convict purposes doesn't conflict with the fact that both countries were first "discovered" by non-English Europeans. The Dutch or the Portugese in the case of Australia, and Abel Tasman in the case of NZ

    Since Nov 2006 • 6165 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Kyle I was being facetious with "discovery" I thought that was clear.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Feel free to reject the reasons for war, growing republicanism, anti-British sentiment in the American colonies and the corrosponding presures to look for alt resources if you wish.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Kyle I was being facetious with "discovery" I thought that was clear.

    So when you say "discovery" you mean... colonisation? Something else? Because it would help the discussion of the past few days if you were clear about what your original post meant.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6165 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    The sadly misinformed David writ large thusly...

    By the end of the 1600s, this navy had become the largest and most formidable in the world [15]; a state of affairs that would last (in the form of the Royal Navy) right up until the early years of the twentieth century [16].

    <outrage>
    This can’t go unchallenged. It is with outrage that I decry the rewriting of history by the English swines. My noble ancestors the Dutch were the true rulers of the waves and all the great sailing innovations were theirs!!!!
    </outrage>

    Seriously though as my father was taught in school it was the Dutch defeated that Spanish Main (the English were mostly spectators and pirates). And the Dutch Navy really was the largest and most powerful in the world until the late 1700s. When they were defeated by an evil alliance between the French and the English – who’d have thought the frogs and the Ros-beefs could co-operate like that?

    I’m sure the Spanish have a different version as well, and the Portuguese.

    Oh and it was a Dutchman who discovered NZ, hence the name!

    Wiki wisdon here

    ...the battle of Chatham (1667) took place, arguably the worst naval defeat in English history until this very day. The third Anglo-Dutch war was in fact a conspiracy between France, England, Cologne and Munster to attack the Netherlands and destroy the Dutch republic as the world’s superpower.

    Although the Dutch fleet was the largest of the world at the time, the combined fleet of France and England quickly put the Dutch in a defensive position, but due to the tactical brilliance of Michiel de Ruyter, they managed to inflict so much damage to both fleets during the Dutch nation's zero-hour that the offensive capabilities of France and England were reduced to almost nothing.

    cheers
    Bart

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3347 posts Report Reply

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