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Elizabethan Sea-Dogs


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Elizabethan Sea-Dogs

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  2. 2. Date Due ^CT2 8 960 AN 7^ -196-rai } * ^ /'J '6 _JA^^ 'QQ AI> PRINTED IN U. S. A. (Sf CAT. NO. 23233 E173 .C55°T3 ""'™""' ''""'^ Elizabethan sea-doas: I mill Hill mil Hill mil iiiii iiiiriiirinu u i »
  3. 3. Cornell University Library The original of this book is in the Cornell University Library. There are no known copyright restrictions in the United States on the use of the text. http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924030985802
  6. 6. SIR FRANCIS DRAKE Painting, probably by Abraham JanSsen, 1594. At Bucklaiid Abbey, Devon, England.
  8. 8. 113 V -7} 862615 Copyright, 1918, by Yale University Press
  9. 9. PREFATORY NOTE Citizen, colonist, pioneer! These three words carry the history of the United States back to its earliest form in 'the Newe Worlde called America.' But who prepared the way for the pioneers from the Old World and what ensured their safety in the New? The title of the present volume, Eliza- bethan Sea-Dogs, gives the only answer. It was during the reign of Elizabeth, the last of the Tudor sovereigns of England, that Englishmen won the command of the sea under the consummate leader- ship of Sir Francis Drake, the first of modern admirals. Drake and his companions are known to fame as Sea-Dogs. They won the English right of way into Spain's New World. And Anglo- American history begins with that century of maritime adventure and naval war in which English sailors blazed and secured the long sea- trail for the men of every other kind who found or sought their fortunes in America,
  11. 11. ILLUSTRATIONS SIR FRANCIS DRAKE Painting, probably by Abraham Janssen, 1594. At Buckland Abbey, Devon, England. Frontispiece MAP SHOWING THE FIELD OF ACTIVITY OF THE SEA-ROVERS Prepared by W. L. G. Joerg, of the American Geographical Society. Facing page 12
  12. 12. ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS CHAPTER I England's first look In the early spring of 1476 the Italian Giovanni Caboto, who, like Christopher Columbus, was a seafaring citizen of Genoa, transferred his allegi- ance to Venice. The Roman Empire had fallen a thousand years before. Rome now held temporal sway only over the States of the Church, which were weak in armed force, even when compared with the small republics, dukedoms, and principalities which lay north and south. But Papal Rome, as the head and heart of a spiritual empire, was still a world-power; and the disunited Italian states were first in the commercial enterprise of the age as well as in the glories of the Renaissance. North of the Papal domain, which cut the penin- 1
  13. 13. 2 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS sula in two parts, stood three renowned Italian cities: Florence, the capital of Tuscany, leading the world in arts; Genoa, the home of Caboto and Columbus, teaching the world the science of navigation; and Venice, mistress of the great trade route between Europe and Asia, controlling the world's commerce. Thus, in becoming a citizen of Venice, Giovanni Caboto the Genoese was leaving the best home of scientific navigation for the best home of sea- borne trade. His very name was no bad creden- tial. Surnames often come from nicknames; and for a Genoese to be called 11 Caboto was as much as for an Arab of the Desert to be known to his people as The Horseman. Cahottdggio now means no more than coasting trade. But before there was any real ocean commerce it referred to the regular sea-borne trade of the time; and Giovanni Caboto must have either upheld an exceptional family tradition or struck out an exceptional line for himself to have been known as John the Skipper among the many other expert skippers hailing from the port of Genoa. There was nothing strange in his being natur- alized in Venice. Patriotism of the kind that keeps the citizen under the flag of his own country
  14. 14. ENGLAND'S FIRST LOOK 3 was hardly known outside of England, France, and Spain. Though the Italian states used to fight each other, an individual Italian, especially when he was a sailor, always felt at liberty to seek his fortune in any one of them, or wherever he found his chance most tempting. So the Genoese Giovanni became the Venetian Zuan without any patriotic wrench. Nor was even the vastly greater change to plain John Cabot so very start- ling. Italian experts entered the service of a foreign monarch as easily as did the 'pay-fighting Swiss' or Hessian mercenaries. Columbus en- tered the Spanish service under Ferdinand and Isabella just as Cabot entered the English service under Henry VII. Giovanni—Zuan—John: it was all in a good day's work. Cabot settled in Bristol, where the still existing guild of Merchant-Venturers was even then two centuries old. Columbus, writing of his visit to Iceland, says, 'the English, especially those of Bristol, go there with their merchandise.' Iceland was then what Newfoundland became, the best of distant fishing grounds. It marked one end of the line of English sea-borne commerce. The Levant marked the other. The Baltic formed an important branch. Thus English trade al-
  15. 15. 4 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS ready stretched out over all the main lines. Long before Cabot's arrival a merchant prince of Bristol, named Canyng, who employed a hundred artificers and eight himdred seamen, was trading to Iceland, to the Baltic, and, most of all, to the Mediterranean. The trade with Italian ports stood in high favor among English merchants and was encouraged by the King; for in 1485, the first year of the Tudor dynasty, an English consul took oflBce at Pisa and England made a treaty of reciprocity with Tuscany. Henry VII, first of the energetic Tudors and grandfather of Queen Elizabeth, was a thrifty and practical man. Some years before the event about to be recorded in these pages Columbus had sent him a trusted brother with maps, globes, and quotations from Plato to prove the existence of lands to the west. Henry had troubles of his own in England. So he turned a deaf ear and lost a New World. But after Columbus had found America, and the Pope had divided all heathen countries between the crowns of Spain and Portugal, Henry decided to see what he could do. Anglo-American history begins on the 5th of March, 1496, when the Cabots, father and three
  16. 16. ENGLAND'S FIRST LOOK 5 sons, received the following patent from the King: Henrie, by the grace of God, King of England and France, and Lord of Irelande, to all, to whom these presentes shall come. Greeting —Be it knowen, that We have given and granted, and by these presentes do give and grant for Us and Our Heyres, to our well beloved John Gabote, citizen of Venice, to Lewes, Sebastian, and Santius, sonnes of the sayde John, and to the heires of them and every of them, and their deputies, full and free authoritie, leave, and Power, to sayle to all Partes, Countreys, and Seas, of the East, of the West, and of the North, under our banners and ensignes, with five shippes, of what burden or quantitie soever they bee: and as many mariners or men as they will have with them in the saide shippes, upon their owne proper costes and charges, to seeke out, discover, and finde, what- soever lies, Countreyes, Regions, or Provinces, of the Heathenries and Infidelles, whatsoever they bee, and in what part of the worlde soever they bee, whiche before this time have been unknowen to all Christians. We have granted to them also, and to every of them, the heires of them, and every of them, and their deputies, and have given them licence to set up Our banners and ensignes in every village, towne, castel.
  17. 17. 6 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS yle, or maine lande, of them newly founde. And that the aforesaide John and his sonnes, or their heires and assignes, may subdue, occupie, and possesse, all svx:h townes, cities, castels, and yles, of them founde, which they can subdue, occupie, and possesse, as our vassailes and lieutenantes, getting unto Us the rule, title, and jurisdiction of the same villages, townes, castels, andfirme lande so founde. The patent then goes on to provide for a royalty to His Majesty of one-fifth of the net profits, to exempt the patentees from custom duty, to ex- clude competition, and to exhort good subjects of the Crown to help the Cabots in every possible way. This first of all English documents con- nected with America ends with these words: Witnesse our Selfe at Westminster, the Fifth day of March, in the XI yeere of our reigne. HENRY R. To sayle to all Partes of the East, of the West, and of the North. The pointed omission of the word South made it clear that Henry had no in- tention of infringing Spanish rights of discovery. Spanish claims, however, were based on the Pope's division of all the heathen world and were by no means bounded by any rights of discovery already acquired.
  18. 18. ENGLAND'S FIRST LOOK 7 Cabot left Bristol in the spring of 1497, a year after the date of his patent, not with the 'five shippes' the King had authorized, but in the httle Matthew, with a crew of only eighteen men, nearly all Englishmen accustomed to the North Atlantic. The Matthew made Cape Breton, the easternmost point of Nova Scotia, on the 24th of June, the anniversary of St. John the Baptist, now the racial fete-day of the French Canadians. Not a single human inhabitant was to be seen in this wild new land, shaggy with forests primeval, fronted with bold, scarped shores, and beautiful with romantic deep bays leading inland, league upon league, past rugged forelands and rocky battlements keeping guard at the frontiers of the continent. Over these mysterious wilds Cabot raised St. George's Cross for England and the banner of St. Mark in souvenir of Venice. Had he now reached the fabled islands of the West or discovered other islands off the eastern coast of Tartary.? He did not know. But he hurried back to Bristol with the news and was welcomed by the King and people. A Venetian in London wrote home to say that 'this fellow-citizen of ours, who went from Bristol in quest of new islands, is Zuan Caboto, whom the English now call a
  19. 19. 8 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS great admiral. He dresses in silk; they pay him great honour; and everyone runs after him like mad.' The Spanish ambassador was full of suspicion, in spite of the fact that Cabot had not gone south. Had not His Holiness divided all Heathendom between the crowns of Spain and Portugal, to Spain the West and to Portugal the East; and was not this landfall within what the modern world would call the Spanish sphere of influence.? The ambassador protested to Henry VH and reported home to Ferdinand and Isabella. Henry VII meanwhile sent a little present ' To Hym that founde the new Isle—£10.' It was not very much. But it was about as much as nearly a thousand dollars now; and it meant full recognition and approval. This was a good start for a man who couldn't pay the King any royalty of twenty per cent, because he hadn't made a penny on the way. Besides, it was fol- lowed up by a royal annuity of twice the amount and by renewed letters-patent for further voyages and discoveries in the west. So Cabot took good fortune at the flood and went again. This time there was the full authorized flotilla of five sail, of which one turned back and four sailed on. Somewhere on the way John Cabot
  20. 20. ENGLAND'S FIRST LOOK 9 disappeared from history and his second s6n, Sebastian, reigned in his stead. Sebastian, like John, apparently wrote nothing whatever. But he talked a great deal; and in after years he seems to have remembered a good many things that never happened at all. Nevertheless he was a very able man in several capacities and could teach a courtier or a demagogue, as well as a geographer or exploiter of new claims, the art of climbing over other people's backs, his father's and his brothers' backs included. He had his troubles; for King Henry had pressed upon him recruits from the gaols, which just then were full of rebels. But he had enough seamen to manage the ships and plenty of cargo for trade with the undiscovered natives. Sebastian perhaps left some of his three hundred men to explore Newfoundland. He knew they couldn't starve because, as he often used to tell his gaping listeners, the waters thereabouts were so thick with codfish that he had hard work to force his vessels through. This first of American fish stories, wildly improbable as it may seem, may yet have been founded on fact. When acres upon acres of the countless little capelin swim inshore to feed, and they themselves are preyed
  21. 21. 10 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS on by leaping acres of voracious cod, whose own rear ranks are being preyed on by hungry seals, sharks, herring-hogs, or dogfish, then indeed the troubled surface of a narrowing bay is literally thick with the silvery flash of capelin, the dark tumultuous backs of cod, and the swirling rushes of the greater beasts of prey behind. Nor were certain other fish stories, told by Sebastian and his successors about the land of cod, without some strange truths to build on. Cod have been caught as long as a man and weighing over a hundred pounds. A whole hare, a big guillemot with his beak and claws, a brace of duck so fresh that they must have been swallowed alive, a rubber wading boot, and a very learned treatise com- plete in three volumes—these are a few of the curiosities actually found in sundry stomachs of the all-devouring cod. The new-found cod banks were a mine of wealth for western Europe at a time when everyone ate fish on fast days. They have remained so ever since because the enormous increase of popula- tion has kept up a constantly increasing demand for natural supplies of food. Basques and Eng- lish, Spaniards, French, and Portuguese, were presently fishing for cod all round the waters o^
  22. 22. ENGLAND'S FIRST LOOK 11 northeastern Nortli America and were even then beginning to raise questions of national rights that have only been settled in this twentieth century after four hundred years. Following the coast of Greenland past Cape Farewell, Sebastian Cabot turned north to look for the nearest course to India and Cathay, the lands of silks and spices, diamonds, rubies, pearls, and gold. John Cabot had once been as far as Mecca or its neighborhood, where he had seen the cara- vans that came across the Desert of Arabia from the fabled East. Believing the proof that the world was round, he, like Columbus and so many more, thought America was either the eastern limits of the Old World or an archipelago between the extremest east and west already known. Thus, in the early days before it was valued for itself, America was commonly regarded as a mere ob- struction to navigation — the more solid the more exasperating. Now, in 1498, on his second voyage to America, John Cabot must have been particularly anxious to get through and show the King some better return for his money. But he simply disappears; and all we know is what various writers gleaned from his son Sebastian later on.
  23. 23. 12 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS Sebastian said he coasted Greenland, through vast quantities of midsummer ice, until he reached 67° 30' north, where there was hardly any night. Then he turned back and probably steered a southerly course for Newfoundland, as he appears to have completely missed what would have seemed to him the tempting way to Asia oflFered by Hudson Strait and Bay. Passing Newfoundland, he stood on south as far as the Virginia capes, perhaps down as far as Florida. A few natives were caught. But no real trade was done. And when the explorers had reported progress to the King the general opinion was that North America was nothing to boast of, after all. A generation later the French sent out several expeditions to sail through North America and make discoveries by the way. Jacques Cartier's second, made in 1535, was the greatest and most successful. He went up the St. Lawrence as high as the site of Montreal, the head of ocean naviga- tion, where, a hundred and forty years later, the local wits called La Salle's seigneury 'La Chine' in derision of his unquenchable belief in a trans- continental connection with Cathay. But that was under the wholly new conditions of the seventeenth century, when both French
  25. 25. ENGLAND'S FIRST LOOK 13 and English expected to make something out of what are now the United States and Canada. The point of the witling joke against La Salle was a new version of the old adage: Go farther and fare worse. The point of European opinion about America throughout the wonderful sixteenth century was that those who did go farther north than Mexico were certain to fare worse. And — whatever the cause — they generally did. So there was yet a third reason why the fame of Columbus eclipsed the fame of the Cabots even among those English-speaking peoples whose New-World home the Cabots were the first to find. To begin with, Columbus was the first of moderns to discover any spot in all America. Secondly, while the Cabots gave no writings to the world, Columbus did. He wrote for a mighty monarch and his fame was spread abroad by what we should now call a monster publicity campaign. Thirdly, our present point: the southern lands associated with Columbus and with Spain yielded immense and most romantic profits during the most romantic period of the sixteenth century. The northern lands connected with the Cabots did nothing of the kind. Priority, publicity, and romantic wealth all
  26. 26. 14 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS favored Columbus and the south then as the memory of them does to-day. The four hun- dredth anniversary of his discovery of an island in the Bahamas excited the interest of the whole world and was celebrated with great enthusiasm in the United States. The four hundredth anni- versary of the Cabots' discovery of North America excited no interest at all outside of Bristol and Cape Breton and a few learned societies. Even contemporary Spain did more for the Cabots than that. The Spanish ambassador in London carefully collected every scrap of information and sent it home to his king, who turned it over as material for Juan de la Cosa's famous map, the first dated map of America known. This map, made in 1500 on a bullock's hide, still occupies a place of honor in the Naval Museum at Madrid; and there it stands as a contemporary geographic record to show that St. George's Cross was the first flag ever raised over eastern North America, at all events north of Cape Hatteras. The Cabots did great things though they were not great men. John, as we have seen already, sailed out of the ken of man in 1498 during his second voyage. Sly Sebastian lived on and al- most saw Elizabeth ascend the throne in 1558.
  27. 27. ENGLAND'S FIRST LOOK 15 He had made many voyages and served many masters in the meantime. In 1512 he entered the service of King Ferdinand of Spain as a 'Captain of the Sea' with a handsome salary attached. Six years later the Emperor Charles V made him 'Chief Pilot and Examiner of Pilots.' Another six years and he is sitting as a nautical assessor to find out the longitude of the Moluccas in order that the Pope may know whether they fall within the Portuguese or Spanish hemisphere of exploitation. Presently he goes on a four years' journey to South America, is hindered by a mutiny, explores the River Plate (La Plata), and returns in 1530, about the time of the voyage to Brazil of 'Master William Haukins,' of which we shall hear later on. In 1544 Sebastian made an excellent and cele- brated map of the world which gives a wonderfully good idea of the coasts of North America from Labrador to Florida. This map, long given up for lost, and only discovered three centuries after it had been finished, is now in the National Library in Paris. ' ' An excellent facsimile reproduction of it, together with a copy of the marginal text, is in the collections of the American Geo- graphical Society of New York.
  28. 28. 16 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS Sebastian had passed his threescore years and ten before this famous map appeared. But he was as active as ever twelve years later again. He had left Spain for England in 1548, to the rage of Charles V, who claimed him as a deserter, which he probably was. But the English boy-king, Edward VI, gave him a pension, which was re- newed by Queen Mary; and his last ten years were spent in England, where he died in the odor of sanctity as Governor of the Muscovy Company and citizen of London. Whatever his faults, he was a hearty-good-fellow with his boon com- panions; and the following 'personal mention' about his octogenarian revels at Gravesend is well worth quoting exactly as the admiring diarist wrote it down on the 27th of April, 1556, when the pinnace Serchthrift was on the point of sailing to Muscovy and the Directors were giving it a great send-off. After Master Cabota and divers gentlemen .and gentlewomen had viewed our pinnace, and tasted of such cheer as we could make them aboard, they went on shore, giving to our mariners right liberal rewards; and the good old Gentleman, Master Cabota, gave to the poor most liberal alms, wishing them to pray for the good fortune and prosperous success of the Serch- thrift, our pinnace. And then, at the sign of the Chris-
  29. 29. ENGLAND'S FIRST LOOK 17 topher, he and his friends banqueted, and made me and them that were In the company great cheer; and for very joy that he had to see the towardness of our intended discovery he entered Into the dance himself, amongst the rest of the young and lusty company — which being ended, he and his friends departed, most gently commending us to the governance of Almighty God.
  30. 30. CHAPTER n HENBT VIII, KING OF THE ENGLISH SEA The leading pioneers in the Age of Discovery were sons of Italy, Spain, and Portugal. ' Cabot, as we have seen, was an Italian, though he sailed for. the English Crown and had an Eng- lish crew. Columbus, too, was an Italian, though in the service of the Spanish Crown. It was the Portuguese Vasco da Gama who in the very year of John Cabot's second voyage (1498) found the great sea route to India by way of the Cape of Good Hope. Two years later the Cortereals, also Portuguese, began exploring the coasts of America as far northwest as Labrador. Twenty years later again the Portuguese Magellan, sailing for the King of Spain, discovered the strait still known by his name, passed through it into the ' Basque fishermen and whalers apparently forestalled Jacques Cartier's discovery of the St. Lawrence in 1535; perhaps they knew the mainland of America before John Cabot in 1497. But they left no written records; and neither founded an oversea dominion nor gave rights of discovery to their own or any other race. 18
  31. 31. KING HENRY VIII 19 Pacific, and reached the Philippines. There he was killed. But one of his ships went on to make the first circumnavigation of the globe, a feat which redounded to the glory of both Spain and Portugal. Meanwhile, in 1513, the Spaniard Balboa had crossed the Isthmus of Panama and waded into the Pacific, sword in hand, to claim it for his king. Then came the Spanish explorers — Ponce de Leon, De Soto, Coronado, and many more — and later on the conquerors and founders of New Spain — Cortes, Pizarro, and their successors. During all this time neither France nor England made any lodgment in America, though both sent out a number of expeditions, both fished on the cod banks of Newfoundland, and each had already marked out her own 'sphere of influence.' The Portuguese were in Brazil; the Spaniards, in South and Central America. England, by right of the Bristol voyages, claimed the eastern coasts of the United States and Canada; France, in virtue of Cartier's discovery, the region of the St. Lawrence. But, while New Spain and New Por- tugal flourished in the sixteenth century, New France and New England were yet to rise. In the sixteenth century both France and Eng- land were occupied with momentous things at
  32. 32. 20 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS home. France was torn with religious wars. Tudor England had much work to do before any effective English colonies could be planted. Oversea dominions are nothing without sufficient sea power, naval and mercantile, to win, to hold, and foster them. But Tudor England was grad- ually forming those naval and merchant services without which there could have been neither British Empire nor United States. Henry VIII had faults which have been trum- peted about the world from his own day to ours. But of all English sovereigns he stands foremost as the monarch of the sea. Young, handsome, learned, exceedingly accomplished, gloriously strong in body and in mind, Henry mounted the throne in 1509 with the hearty good will of nearly all his subjects. Before England could become the mother country of an empire overseas, she had to shake off her mediaeval weaknesses, be- come a strongly unified modern state, and arm herself against any probable combination of hos- tile foreign states. Happily for herself and for her future colonists, Henry was richly endowed with strength and skill for his task. With one hand he welded England into political unity,
  33. 33. KING HENRY VIII 21 crushing disruptive forces by the way. With the other he gradually built up a fleet the like of which the world had never seen. He had the advantage of being more independent of parlia- mentary supplies than any other sovereign. From his thrifty father he had inherited what was then an almost fabulous sum — nine million dollars in cash. From what his friends call the conver- sion, and his enemies the spoliation, of Church property in England he obtained many millions more. Moreover, the people as a whole always rallied to his call whenever he wanted other national resources for the national defence. Henry's unique distinction is that he effected the momentous change from an ancient to a modern fleet. This supreme achievement con- stitutes his real title to the lasting gratitude of English-speaking peoples. His first care when he came to the throne in 1509 was for the safety of the 'Broade Ditch,' as he called the English Channel. His last great act was to establish in 1546 'The Office of the Admiralty and Marine Affairs.' During the thirty-seven years between his accession and the creation of this Navy Board the pregnant change was made. 'King Henry loved a man.' He had an uner-
  34. 34. 22 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS ring eye for choosing the right leaders. He delight- ed in everything to do with ships and ship- ping. He mixed freely with naval men and mer- chant skippers, visited the dockyards, promoted several improved types of vessels, and always befriended Fletcher of Rye, the shipwright who discovered the art of tacking and thereby revolu- tionized navigation. Nor was the King only a patron. He invented a new type of vessel himself and thoroughly mastered scientific gun- nery. He was the first of national leaders to grasp the full significance of what could be done by broadsides fired from sailing ships against the mediaeval type of vessel that still depended more on oars than on sails. Henry's maritime rivals were the two greatest monarchs of continental Europe, Francis I of France and Charles V of Spain. Henry, Francis, and Charles were all young, all ambitious, and all exceedingly capable men. Henry had the fewest subjects, Charles by far the most. Francis had a compact kingdom well situated for a great European land power. Henry had one equally well situated for a great European sea power. Charles ruled vast dominions scattered over both the New World and the Old. The destinies of
  35. 35. KING HENRY VIII 23 mankind turned mostly on the rivalry between these three protagonists and their successors. Charles V was heir to several crowns. He ruled Spain, the Netherlands, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and important principalities in northern Italy. He was elected Emperor of Germany. He owned enormous oversea dominions in Africa; and the two Americas soon became New Spain. He governed each part of his European dominions by a different title and under a different constitu- tion. He had no fixed imperial capital, but moved about from place to place, a legitimate sovereign everywhere and, for the most part, a popular one as well. It was his son Philip II who, failing of election as Emperor, lived only in Spain, con- centrated the machinery of government in Madrid, and became so unpopular elsewhere. Charles had been brought up in Flanders; he was genial in the Flemish way; and he understood his various states in the Netherlands, which furnished him with one of his main sources of revenue. An- other and much larger som^ce of revenue poured in its wealth to him later on, in rapidly increasing volume, from North and South America. Charles had inherited a long and bitter feud with France about the Burgundian dominions on
  36. 36. 24 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS the French side of the Rhine and about domains in Italy; besides which there were many points of violent rivalry between things French and Span- ish. England also had hereditary feuds with France, which had come down from the Hundred Years' War, and which had ended in her almost final expulsion from France less than a century before. Scotland, nursing old feuds against Eng- land and always afraid of absorption, naturally sided with France. Portugal, small and open to Spanish invasion by land, was more or less bound to please Spain. During the many campaigns between Francis and Charles the English Channel swarmed with men-of-war, privateers, and downright pirates. Sometimes England took a hand officially against France. But, even when England was not offi- cially at war, many Englishmen were privateers and not a few were pirates. Never was there a better training school of fighting seamanship than in and around the Narrow Seas. It was a con- tinual struggle for an existence in which only the fittest survived. Quickness was essential. Con- sequently vessels that could not increase their speed were soon cleared off the sea. Spain suffered a good deal by this continuous
  37. 37. KING HENRY VIII 25 raiding. So did the Netherlands. But such was the power of Charles that, although his navies were much weaker than his armies, he yet was able to fight by sea on two enormous fronts, first, in the Mediterranean against the Turks and other Moslems, secondly, in the Channel and along the coast, all the way from Antwerp to Cadiz. Nor did the left arm of his power stop there; for his fleets, his transports, and his merchantmen ranged the coasts of both Americas from one side of the present United States right round to the other. Such, in brief, was the position of maritime Europe when Henry found himself menaced by the three Roman Catholic powers of Scotland, France, and Spain. In 1533 he had divorced his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, thereby defying the Pope and giving offence to Spain. He had again defied the Pope by suppressing the monas- teries and severing the Church of England from the Roman discipline. The Pope had struck back with a bull of excommunication designed to make Henry the common enemy of Catholic Europe. Henry had been steadily building ships for years. Now he redoubled his activity. He blooded the fathers of his daughter's sea-dogs by
  38. 38. 26 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS smashing up a pirate fleet and sinking a flotilla of Flemish privateers. The mouth of the Scheldt, in 1539, was full of vessels ready to take a hostile army into England. But such a fighting fleet prepared to meet them that Henry's enemies forbore to strike. In 1539, too, came the discovery of the art of tacking, by Fletcher of Rye, Henry's shipwright friend, a discovery forever memorable in the an- nals of seamanship. Never before had any kind of craft been sailed a single foot against the wind. The primitive dugout on which the prehistoric savage hoisted the first semblance of a sail, the ships of Tarshish, the Roman transport in which St. Paul was wrecked, and the Spanish caravels with which Columbus sailed to worlds unknown, were, in principle of navigation, all the same. But now Fletcher ran out his epoch-making vessel, with sails trimmed fore and aft, and dumbfounded all the shipping in the Channel by beating his way to windward against a good stiff breeze. This achievement marked the dawn of the modern sailing age. And so it happened that in 1545 Henry, with a new-born modern fleet, was able to turn defi- antly on Francis. The English people rallied
  39. 39. KING HENRY VIII 27 magnificently to his call. What was at that time an enormous army covered the lines of advance on London. But the fleet, though employing fewer men, was relatively a much more important force than the army; and with the fleet went Henry's own headquarters. His lifelong interest in his navy now bore the first-fruits of really scientific sea power on an oceanic scale. There was no great naval battle to fix general attention on one dramatic moment. Henry's strategy and tactics, however, were new and full of promise. He repeated his strategy of the previous war by sending out a strong squadron to attack the base at which the enemy's ships were then assembling; and he definitely committed the English navy, alone among all the navies in the world, to sailing- ship tactics, instead of continuing those founded on the rowing galley of immemorial fame. The change from a sort of floating army to a really naval fleet, from galleys moved by oars and de- pending on boarders who were soldiers, to ships moved by sails and depending on their broadside guns — this change was quite as important as the change in the nineteenth century from sails and smooth-bores to steam and rifled ordnance. It was, indeed, from at least one commanding
  40. 40. 28 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS point of view, much more important; for it meant that England was easily first in developing the only kind of navy which would count in any struggle for oversea dominion after the discovery of America had made sea power no longer a ques- tion of coasts and landlocked waters but of all the outer oceans of the world. The year that saw the birth of modern sea power is a date to be remembered in this history; for 1545 was also the year in which the mines of Potosi first aroused the Old World to the riches of the New; it was the year, too, in which Sir Francis Drake was born. Moreover, there was another significant birth in this same year. The parole aboard the Portsmouth fleet was God save the King ! The answering countersign was Long to reign over us! These words formed the nucleus of the national anthem now sung round all the Seven Seas. The anthems of other countries were born on land. God save the King I sprang from the navy and the sea. The Reformation quickened seafaring life in many ways. After Henry's excommunication every Roman CathoHc crew had full Papal sanc- tion for attacking every English crew that would
  41. 41. KING HENRY VIII 29 not submit to Rome, no matter how Catholic its faith might be. Thus, in addition to danger from pirates, privateers, and men-of-war, an English merchantman had to risk attack by any one who was either passionately Roman or determined to use religion as a cloak. Raids and reprisals grew apace. The English were by no means always lambs in piteous contrast to the Papal wolves. Rather, it might be said, they took a motto from this true Russian proverb: 'Make yourself a sheep and you'll find no lack of wolves.' But, rightly or wrongly, the general English view was that the Papal attitude was one of attack while their own was one of defence. Papal Europe of course thought quite the reverse. Henry died in 1547, and the Lord Protector Somerset at once tried to make England as Pro- testant as possible during the minority of Edward VI, who was not yet ten years old. This brought every English seaman under suspicion in every Spanish port, where the Holy Office of the Inqui- sition was a great deal more vigilant and business- like than the Custom House or Harbor Master. Inquisitors had seized Englishmen in Henry's time. But Charles had stayed their hand. Now that the ruler of England was an open heretic, who
  42. 42. 30 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS appeared to reject the accepted forms of Catholic belief as well as the Papal forms of Roman disci- pline, the hour had come to strike. War would have followed in ordinary times. But the Refor- mation had produced a cross-division among the subjects of all the Great Powers. If Charles went to war with a Protestant Lord Protector of England then some of his own subjects in the Netherlands would probably revolt. France had her Huguenots; England her ultra-Papists; Scot- land some of both kinds. Every country had an unknown number of enemies at home and friends abroad. All feared war. Somerset neglected the navy. But the sea- faring men among the Protestants, as among those Catholics who were anti-Roman, took to privateering more than ever. Nor was explora- tion forgotten. A group of merchant-adventurers sent Sir Hugh Willoughby to find the Northeast Passage to Cathay. Willoughby's three ships were towed down the Thames by oarsmen dressed in sky-blue jackets. As they passed the palace at Greenwich they dipped their colors in salute. But the poor young king was too weak to come to the window. Willoughby met his death in Lap- land. But Chancellor, his second-in-command,
  43. 43. KING HENRY VIII 31 got through to the White Sea, pushed on overland to Moscow, and returned safe in 1554, when Queen Mary was on the throne. Next year, strange to say, the charter of the new Muscovy Company was granted by Philip of Armada fame, now joint sovereign of England with his newly married wife, soon to be known as 'Bloody Mary,' One of the directors of the company was Lord Howard of Effingham, father of Drake's Lord Admiral, while the governor was our old friend Sebastian Cabot, now in his eightieth year. Philip was Crown Prince of the Spanish Empire, and his father, Charles V, was very anxious that he should please the stubborn English; for if he could only become both King of England and Emperor of Germany he would rule the world by sea as well as land. Philip did his ineffective best: drank English beer in public as if he liked it and made his stately Spanish courtiers drink it too and smile. He spent Spanish gold, brought over from America, and he got the convenient kind of Englishmen to take it as spy-money for many years to come. But with it he likewise sowed some dragon's teeth. The English sea-dogs never forgot the iron chests of Spanish New-World gold, and presently began to wonder whether there was no
  44. 44. 32 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS sure way in far America by which to get it for themselves. In the same year, 1555, the Marian attack on English heretics began and the sea became safer than the land for those who held strong anti- Papal views. The Royal Navy was neglected even more than it had been lately by the Lord Protector. But fighting traders, privateers, and pirates multiplied. The seaports were hotbeds of hatred against Mary, Philip, Papal Rome, and Spanish Inquisition. In 1556 Sebastian Cabot reappears, genial and prosperous as ever, and dances out of history at the sailing of the Serch- thrift, bound northeast for Muscovy. In 1557 Philip came back to England for the last time and manoeuvred her into a war which cost her Calais, the last English foothold on the soil of France. During this war an English squadron joined Philip's vessels in a victory over the French off Gravelines, where Drake was to fight the Armada thirty years later. This first of the two battles fought at Gravelines brings us down to 1558, the year in which Mary died, Elizabeth succeeded her, and a very different English age began.
  45. 45. CHAPTER III LIFE AFLOAT IN TUDOR TIMES Two stories from Hakluyt's Voyages will illustrate what sort of work the English were attempting in America about 1530, near the middle of Bang Henry's reign. The success of 'Master Haukins' and the failure of 'Master Hore' are quite typical of several other adventures in the New World. 'Olde M. William Haukins of Plimmouth, a man for his wisdome, valure, experience, and skill in sea causes much esteemed and beloved of King Henry the eight, and being one of the principall Sea Captaines in the West partes of England in his time, not contented with the short voyages commonly then made onely to the knowen coastes of Europe, armed out a tall and goodlie ship of his owne, of the burthen of 250 tunnes, called the Pole of Plimmouth, wherewith he made three long and famous voyages vnto the coast of Brasill, a thing in those days very rare, especially to our 3 33
  46. 46. Si ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS Nation.' Hawkins first went down the Guinea Coast of Africa, 'where he trafiqued with the Negroes, and tooke of them Oliphants' teeth, and other commodities which that place yeeldeth; and so arriving on the coast of Brasil, used there such discretion, and behaved himselfe so wisely with those savage people, that he grew into great familiaritie and friendship with them. Inso- much that in his 2 voyage one of the savage kings of the Countrey of Brasil was contented to take ship with him, and to be transported hither into England. This kinge was presented unto King Henry 8. The King and all the Nobilitie did not a little marvel; for in his cheeks were holes, and therein small bones planted, which in his Countrey was reputed for a great braverie.' The poor Brazilian monarch died on his voyage back, which made Hawkins fear for the life of Martin Cockeram, whom he had left in Brazil as a hos- tage. However, the Brazilians took Hawkins's word for it and released Cockeram, who lived another forty years in Plymouth. *01de M. William Haukins' was the father of Sir John Hawkins, Drake's companion in arms, whom we shall meet later. He was also the grand- father of Sir Richard Hawkins, another naval
  47. 47. LIFE AFLOAT IN TUDOR TIMES 35 hero, and of the second William Hawkins, one of the founders of the greatest of all char- tered companies, the Honourable East India Company. Hawkins knew what he was about. 'Master Hore' did not. Hore was a well-meaning, plaus- ible fellow, good at taking up new-fangled ideas, bad at carrying them out, and the very cut of a wildcat company-promoter, except for his honesty. He persuaded 'divers young lawyers of the Innes of Court and Chancerie' to go to Newfoundland. A hundred and twenty men set oflF in this modern ship of fools, which ran into Newfoundland at night and was wrecked. There were no provisions; and none of the 'divers lawyers' seems to have known how to catch a fish. After trying to live on wild fruit they took to eating each other, in spite of Master Hore, who stood up boldly and warned them of the 'Fire to Come.' Just then a French fishing smack came in; whereupon the lawyers seized her, put her wretched crew ashore, and sailed away with all the food she had. The outraged Frenchmen found an- other vessel, chased the lawyers back to Eng- land, and laid their case before the King, who, 'out of his Royall Bountie,' reimbursed the
  48. 48. 36 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS Frenchmen and let the 'divers lawyers' go scot free. Hawkins and Hore, and others like them, were the heroes of travellers' tales. But what was the ordinary life of the sailor who went down to the sea in the ships of the Tudor age ? There are very few quite authentic descriptions of life afloat before the end of the sixteenth century; and even then we rarely see the ship and crew about their ordinary work. Everybody was all agog for marvellous discoveries. Nobody, least of all a seaman, bothered his head about describing the daily routine on board. We know, however, that it was a lot of almost incredible hardship. Only the fittest could survive. Elizabethan lands- men may have been quite as prone to mistake comfort for civilization as most of the world is said to be now. Elizabethan sailors, when afloat, most certainly were not; and for the simple rea- son that there was no such thing as real comfort in a ship. Here are a few verses from the oldest genuine English sea-song known. They were written down in the fifteenth century, before the discovery of America, and were probably touched up a little
  49. 49. LIFE AFLOAT IN TUDOR TIMES 37 by the scribe. The original manuscript is now in Trinity College, Cambridge. It is a true nautical composition — a very rare thing indeed; for gen- uine sea-songs didn't often get into print and weren't enjoyed by landsmen when they did. The setting is that of a merchantman carrying passengers whose discomforts rather amuse the ' schippemenne. ' Anon the master commandeth fast To his ship-men in all the hast[e]. To dresse them [line up] soon about the mast Their takeling to make. With Howe! Hissa! then they cry, 'What howe! mate thou standest too nigh. Thy fellow may not haul thee by:' Thus they begin to crake [shout]. A boy or twain anon up-steyn [go aloft] And overthwart the sayle-yerde leyn [lie] Y-howl taylia! the remnant cryen [cry] And pull with all their might. Bestow the boat, boat-swain, anon. That our pylgrymms may play thereon; For some are like to cough and groan Ere it be full midnight.
  50. 50. ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS Haul the bowline! Now veer the sheet! Cook, make ready anon our meat! Our pylgrymms have no lust to eat: I pray God give them rest. Go to the helm ! What ho ! no neare[r] ! Steward, fellow! a pot of beer! Ye shall have. Sir, with good cheer. Anon all of the best. Y-howe! Trussa! Haul in the brailes ! Thou haulest not! By God, thou failes[t]. O see how well our good ship sails! And thus they say among. Thys meane'whyle the pylgrymms lie. And have their bowls all fast them by, And cry after hot malvesy — 'Their health for to restore.' Some lay their bookys on their knee. And read so long they cannot see. 'Alas! mine head will split in three!' Thus sayeth one poor wight. A sack of straw were there right good; For some must lay them in their hood: I had as lief be in the wood. Without or meat or drink.'
  51. 51. LIFE AFLOAT IN TUDOR TIMES 39 For when that we shall go to bed, The pump is nigh our beddes head: A man he were as good be dead As smell thereof the stynke! Howe—hissa! is still used aboard deepwater- men as Ho —hissa! instead of Ho — hoist away! What ho, mate! is also known afloat, though dying out. Y-howe! taylia! is Yo — ho! tally! or Tally and belay! which means hauling aft and making fast the sheet of a mainsail or foresail. What ho! no nearer! is What ho! no higher now. But old salts remember no nearer! and it may be still ex- tant. Seasickness seems to have been the same as ever — so was the desperate effort to pretend one was not really feeling it: And cry after hot malvesy — 'Their health for to restore.' Here is another sea-song, one sung by the sea- dogs themselves. The doubt is whether the Martial-men are Navy men, as distinguished from merchant-service men aboard a king's ship, or whether they are soldiers who want to take all sailors down a peg or two. This seems the more
  52. 52. 40 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS probable explanation. Soldiers 'ranked' sailors afloat in the sixteenth century; and Drake's was the first fleet in the world in which seamen- admirals were allowed to fight a purely naval action. We be three poor Mariners, newly come from the Seas, We spend our lives in jeopardy while others live at ease. We care not for those Martial-men that do our states disdain. But we care for those Merchant-men that do our states maintain. A third old sea-song gives voice to the universal complaint that landsmen cheat sailors who come home flush of gold. For Sailors they be honest men, And they do take great pains. But Land-men and ruffling lads Do rob them of their gains. Here, too, is some Cordial Advice against the wiles of the sea, addressed To all rash young Men, who think to Advance their decaying Fortunes by Navigation, as most of the sea-dogs (and gentlemen- adventurers like Gilbert, Raleigh, and Cavendish) tried to do.
  53. 53. LIFE AFLOAT IN TUDOR TIMES 41 You merchant men of Billingsgate, I wonder how you thrive. You bargain with men for six months And pay them but for five. This was an abuse that took a long time to die out. Even well on in the nineteenth century, and sometimes even on board of steamers, vic- tualling was only by the lunar month though service went by the calendar. A cursed cat with thrice three tails Doth much increase our woe is a poetical way of putting another seaman's grievance. People who regret that there is such a dis- crepancy between genuine sea-songs and shore- going imitations will be glad to know that the Mermaid is genuine, though the usual air to which it was sung afloat was harsh and decidedly inferior to the one used ashore. This example of the old 'fore-bitters' (so-called because sung from the fore-bitts, a convenient mass of stout timbers near the foremast) did not luxuriate in the repeti- tions of its shore-going rival: With a comb and a glass in her hand, her hand, her hand, etc.
  54. 54. 42 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS Solo. On Friday morn as we set sail It was not far from land. Oh, there I spied a fair pretty maid With a comb and a glass in her hand. Chorus. The stormy winds did blow, And the raging seas did roar. While we poor Sailors went to the tops And the land lubbers laid below. The anonymous author of a curious composi- tion entitled The Complaynt of Scotland, written in 1548, seems to be the only man who took more interest in the means than in the ends of seaman- ship. He was undoubtedly a landsman. But he loved the things of the sea; and his work is well worth reading as a vocabulary of the lingo that was used on board a Tudor ship. When the seamen sang it sounded like 'an echo in a cave.' Many of the outlandish words were Mediterra- nean terms which the scientific Italian navigators had brought north. Others were of Oriental origin, which was very natural in view of the long connection between East and West at sea. Admiral, for instance, comes from the Arabic for a commander-in-chief. Amir-al-bahr means com- mander of the sea. Most of the nautical techni- calities would strike a seaman of the present day
  55. 55. LIFE AFLOAT IN TUDOR TIMES 43 as being quite modern. The sixteenth-century skipper would be readily understood by a twentieth- century helmsman in the case of such orders as these: Keep full and by! Luff! Conker! Steady! Keep close! Our modern sailor in the navy, how- ever, would be hopelessly lost in trying to follow di- rections like the following : Makeready your cannons, middle culverins, bastard culverins, falcons, salcers, slings, headsticTcs, murderers, passevolants, bazzils, dogges, crook arquebusses, calivers, and hail shot! Another look at life afloat in the sixteenth century brings us once more into touch with America; for the old sea-dog directions for the TAKYNG OF A PRIZE Were admirably summed up in The Seaman's Grammar, which was compiled by 'Captaine John Smith, sometime Governour of Virginia and Admiral of New England' — 'Pocahontas Smith,' in fact. 'Asaai' 'How bears she? To-windward or lee-ward? Set him by the compass!' 'Hee stands right a-head' {or On the weather- bow, or lee-bow). 'Let fly your colours!* (if you have a consort —else not). 'Out with all your sails! A steadie man at the helm! Give him chace!'
  56. 56. 44 ELIZABETHAN SEA-DOGS 'Hee holds his owne — No, wee gather on him, Captaine!' Out goes his flag and pendants, also his waist- cloths and top-armings, which is a long red cloth . . . that goeth round about the shippe on the out- sides of all her upper works and fore and main-tops, as well for the countenance and grace of the shippe as to cover the men from being seen. He furls and slings his main-yard. In goes his sprit-sail. Thus they strip themselves into their fighting sails, which is, only the foresail, the main and fore topsails, because the rest should not be fired nor spoiled; besides, they would be troublesome to handle, hinder our sights and the using of our arms. 'He makes ready his close-fights, fore and aft.' [Bulkheads set up to cover men under fire] . . . 'Every man to his charge! Dowse your top- sail to salute him for the sea! Hail him with a noise of trumpets!' 'Whence is your ship?' 'Of Spain — whence is yours?* 'Of England.' 'Are you merchants or men of war?* 'We are of the Seal' He waves us to leeward with his drawn sward.
  57. 57. LIFE AFLOAT IN TUDOR TIMES 45 calls out 'Amain' for the King of Spain, and springs his luff [brings his vessel close by the wind]. 'Give him a chase-piece with your broadside, and run a good berth a-head of him!' 'Done, done!' 'We have the wind of him, and now he tacks about!' 'Tack about also and keep your luff! Be yare at the helm! Edge in with him! Give him a volley of small shot, also your prow and broadside as before, and keep your luff!' 'He pays us shot for shot!' 'Well, we shall requite him!' ... 'Edge in with him again! Begin with your bow pieces, proceed with your broad-side, and let her fall off with the wind to give him also your full chase, your weather-broad-side, and bring her round so that the stern may also dis- charge, and your tacks close aboard again!' . . . ' The wind veers, the sea goes too high to board her, and we are shot through and through, and between wind and water.' 'Try the pump! Bear up the helm! Sling a man overboard to stop the leaks, that is, truss him up around the middle in a piece of canvas and a rope, with his arms at liberty, with a mallet

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