The first appearance of portholes (invented, with some other improvements, by Descharges, a French builder at Brest) occurs in the representation of the Henri-Grace-à-Dieu, built at Erith in 1515, and said to have measured 1000 tons. No idea, however; can be formed of this ship's actual burden, unless we knew in what manner the tonnage was cast. The invention of portholes gave the power of adding a second tier of guns; and, accordingly, the Henri-Grace-à-Dieu. appears with two whole battery-decks, besides additional short decks, or platforms, both ahead and astern.
The nature, or caliber, of great guns, was not, as at present, designated by the weight of the shot which they discharged. One reason for this may have been, that the balls were not all made of the same materials, some being of iron, some of stone, and some of lead, ‡ three substances which differ greatly in specific gravity. It appears, also, that hollow iron shots, filled with combustible matter, were very early brought into use. Hence, the weight of the shot was of too fluctuating a nature to serve for the classification of the gun that discharged it. Among the different species of English ship-guns of former days, was the " cannon," with its varieties, the cannon-royal, cannon-serpentine, bastard-cannon, demi-cannon, and cannon-petro. The term " cannon " is a singular conversion of the generic into a specific term. Its ambiguity may have given rise to the occasional substitution of " carthoun."
The Henri-Grace-à-Dieu appears to have mounted, in the whole, 80 pieces, composed of almost every caliber in use. Of these 80 guns, not more than 54, according to the clumsy drawing which has been handed down to us, § were pointed through broadside ports. The remainder were mounted, either as bow or stern chasers, or as "murdering pieces," upon the afterpart of the forecastle ; as, from its height and appearance, it then might truly be called. The use of these murdering pieces (the muzzles of which all point in the direction of the maintopmast head) is not easily discernible. The ship had four masts; || and, as the Great-Harry was the first two-decked, ¶ so the Henri-Grace-à-Dieu was the first three-decked ship built in England. In a list of 1552, the latter appears as the Edward. Here all traces of her cease.
* Archæologia, vol. vi., p. 207.
† Ibid., p. 202.
‡ " Shottes of yron, shottes of stoen and leade."- Charnock's Marine Architecture, vol. ii., p. 44.
§ See the print in the 6th volume of the Archæologia.
|| Derrick: Memoirs of the Royal Nary, p. 8.
¶ Archæologia, vol. iii., p. 266.
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