A wonderful new online historical resource has just been launched: The Merchant Fleet of Late Medieval and Tudor England, 1400–1580. This database transforms our understanding of the evolution of English maritime capacity through a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative assessment of the English merchant fleet.

For context, our featured publication this month is Susan Rose’s 1982 volume, The Navy of the Lancastrian Kings, which includes fragmentary accounts relating to ship repairs and ship building in 1416.


The Navy of the Lancastrian Kings: Accounts and Inventories of William Soper, Keeper of the King’s Ships, 1422-1427

Vol 123 (1982), Dr S. Rose

This volume prints, from a manuscript in the National Maritime Museum, the accounts kept by the official in charge of the King’s ships during these years, translated from medieval Latin. The accounts are concerned largely with the disposal of the vessels owned by Henry V after his death. Also printed are further fragmentary accounts relating to ship repairs and ship building in 1416 and 1417.

The income and expenditure sections show clearly the sources of finance for royal vessels and also their value on disposal. The inventory section consists of lists of the fittings, rigging and armaments on board the vessels.

The volume also includes an introduction dealing with Soper’s career, as a merchant in Southampton as well as a royal official, and with the administration and operation of royal ships in the early fifteenth century. The volume also contains a full list of ships owned by Henry V, select biographies and a glossary of technical terms.

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About Susan Rose

Susan Rose obtained her degree in Modern History from Oxford in 1958, and her PhD from Birkbeck College, London, in 1974 with a thesis on The Accounts and Inventories of William Soper, Clerk of the King’s Ships, 1422-27. Between 1959 and 1973 she was concerned with her own children and voluntary work in various fields, including running charity shops and fundraising. Between 1974 and 1986 she taught in various secondary schools. In 1976 she joined the Open University as an associate lecturer (part-time) and worked with them in various roles until her retirement in 2010. In 1991 she joined the staff of the History department at what was then Roehampton Institute of Higher Education, also part-time, and remained with them until 2004, when she retired as Senior Lecturer. At Roehampton University (as it became) she taught mainly medieval history at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels, and was also Director of the British Academy Hearth Tax project.

Her publications include
• The Navy of the Lancastrian Kings (Navy Records Society, 1982).
• Southampton and the Navy in the Reign of Henry V (Hampshire County Council, 1998).
• Medieval Naval Warfare (Routledge, 2002).
• Britain, France and the Empire, 1350-1500 (Macmillan, 2005).
• The Medieval Sea (Continuum, 2007).
• Medieval Ships and Warfare (Ashgate, 2008).
• The Naval Miscellany Volume VII (Navy Records Society, 2008).
• Calais, an English Town in France, 1347 – 1558 (Boydell, 2008).
• The Medieval Wine Trade 1000 – 1500 (Continuum, 2011).
• England’s Medieval Navy (Seaforth, 2014).

The Navy Records Society