Looking far back into the history of seafaring nations and naval battles, many look at one ship built during the reign of Henry VIII as the first warship, a carrack called The Mary Rose. Before the invention of the gun and cannon, boats were used to get soldiers onto land, supported by archers and some use of catapults. While there was direct naval conflict, the ability was limited. As boats grew larger and larger, entering the age of exploration when vast distances could be covered with the support of firearms, the nature of warfare changed.
King Henry grew his fleet of ships from five to 58 by the time of his death, transforming England into a naval power within a generation. One of those ships, The Mary Rose, was ordered built as one of two ships to be added to the fleet, and it became the favorite of King Henry as well as one of the most powerful of its day. The state-of-the-art design made the ship capable of carrying heavy guns, up to eight of them. However, to accommodate these new large guns, it featured gun ports on either side of the ship, a novel feature for the day.
This innovation led to the ability to deliver broadside attacks, firing multiple cannons at another ship on the sea, beginning an era of naval battle that would continue to escalate until the modern day. During its service, The Mary Rose was not the largest ship in the fleet, but it was Henry’s favorite and used as its flagship. Furthermore, it was the first with the broadside gun ports that changed naval warfare forever.