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Best books to read to learn about 13th-14th century sailing vessels?

by Smittyfan
(Idaho)

I'm writing a novel set in the late 13th century, early 14th century, and much of it takes place on a merchant sailing vessel of the time period. I chose this particular time frame because it's when cannons aboard ships are still pretty new, and far and few between, and kingdoms are ruled by kings and queens and there were distinct lines drawn between the different social classes. Swords and bows were still the weapon of choice, and marriage for love was unheard of. (Yes, it's also a story of forbidden love.) Kind of trying to merge a sailing adventure with a Robin Hood adventure in a historically realistic way. Probably sounds crazy, but they say you gotta know what you're writing about. :)

I've done alot of research online already, (hence why I know the exact time period i want) yet feel there is much lacking information i still need to know. Particularly regarding how big would a typical merchant sailing vessel of that time be, and what size of crew was necessary? What kind of lanterns/lighting it may or may not have. Did they hang from ceilings or were screwed into the walls? Steering aside from the sails? and so on. I've read Treasure Island but no offence to Robert Louis Stevenson, but it's kinda slim on the sort of information i'm looking for, plus some of the pirate talk goes way over my head. How do you write about sailors and have intelligent seaworthy dialogue without losing your audience because it sounds and feels so foreign?

What are some great books to read to learn about ordinary life aboard a ship and the pastimes sailors enjoyed? How to seamlessly meld that life into the medieval time of period of warring kingdoms and lovers of completely opposite social standing? Are there such similar novels out there?

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