Henri Grâce à Dieu

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Henry Grace à Dieu ("Henry Grace of God"), popularly known as the Great Harry, was an English carrack or "great ship" of the 16th century. Contemporary with Mary Rose, Henry Grace à Dieu was even larger. She had a large forecastle four decks high, and a stern castle two decks high. She was 165 feet (50 m) long, weighing 1,000–1,500 tons and having a complement of 700–1,000. It is said that she was ordered by Henry VIII in response to the Scottish ship Michael, launched in 1511.

She was originally built at Woolwich Dockyard from 1512 to 1514 and was one of the first vessels to feature gunports and had twenty of the new heavy bronze cannon, allowing for a broadside. In all she mounted 43 heavy guns and 141 light guns. She was the first English two-decker and when launched she was the largest and most powerful warship in Europe.

She was substantially remodelled and rebuilt around the same time as Mary Rose to increase the firepower and improve maneuverability.

Henry Grace à Dieu saw little action. She was present at the Battle of the Solent against French forces in 1545, in which the Mary Rose sank, but appears to have been more of a diplomatic vessel, taking Henry VIII to the summit with Francis I of France at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

After the accession of Edward VI in 1547 she was renamed for him. Her fate is uncertain; she may have been destroyed by fire at Woolwich in 1553,[1] or ended up as a discarded hulk on the bank of the River Thames.

The tradition maintained by the Royal Navy of "showing the flag" at seaside towns to uphold the morale of the Navy is said to have its origins in a service held at the Bradstowe Chapel (Broadstairs, Kent) in 1514 with the crew of Henry Grace à Dieu in attendance, whilst the largest and latest addition to the King's Fleet was moored nearby.

See also

Henry V's the Grace Dieu 1418

References

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