Beginning with Ramses III's dramatic defeat of the 'sea people' in 1176 BC - the world's earliest visual record of a naval battle - Fighting Ships tells the story of 3000 years of maritime history through 150 glorious images. From the Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans to the coming of the age of sail, here are breathtaking depictions of ancient triremes and Viking longships, the Santa Maria and the Spanish Armada, as well as Henry VIII's giant carracks and the majestic three-decked warships of Louis IV that patrolled the Mediterranean. Arranged chronologically, this sumptuous collection of grand-scale images brings together the earliest carvings on temple walls and the world-famous Bayeux tapestry, with exquisite depictions by the greatest artists, including Tintoretto's The Capture of Constantinople, Brueghel's The Fall of Icarus, Vasari's The Battle of Lepanto in 1571 and Samuel Scott's The Capture of Puerto Bello. Here too are striking portraits of key historical figures, such as Columbus, Raleigh and Drake, alongside ship plans, drawings, engravings and artefacts rescued from the wrecks themselves.
Maritime historian Sam Willis recounts famous battles, voyages of conquest and tales of triumph and defeat at sea. He not only reveals the secrets of naval strategy and ship design, but also sheds fascinating light on the lives of the great men that commanded their fleets, as well as on the heroism and hardship of life on board for the ordinary sailor.
Dr Sam Willis is one of the world's leading authorities on the sailing navy and was awarded a PhD in Naval History for his thesis on Command and Tactics in the 18th-century Navy. He is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Exeter's Centre for Maritime Historical Studies and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Sam was presenter of the BBC series Shipwrecks and has consulted on maritime painting for Christie's and the BBC, spending 18 months as a Square Rig Able Seaman, sailing the tall ships used in the Hornblower television series and Channel 4's award-winning film Shackleton. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books including the bestselling 'Hearts of Oak' Trilogy. www.sam-willis.com.