Carrack

A carrack (Portuguese: nau, Spanish: nao, Catalan: carraca, Croatian: karaka) is a three- or four-masted ocean-going sailing ship that was developed in the 14th to 15th centuries in Europe, most notably in Portugal. Evolved from the single-masted cog, the carrack was first used for European trade from the Mediterranean to the Baltic and quickly found use with the newly found wealth of the trade between Europe and Africa and then the trans-Atlantic trade with the Americas. In their most advanced forms, they were used by the Portuguese for trade between Europe and Asia starting in the late 15th century, before eventually being superseded in the 17th century by the galleon, introduced in the 16th century.

The large carrack, thought to be the Santa Catarina do Monte Sinai, and other Portuguese carracks of various sizes. From painting, attributed to either Gregório Lopes or Cornelis Antoniszoon, showing voyage of the marriage party of Princess Beatrice of Portugal, Duchess of Savoy in 1521.
C. 1558 painting of a large carrack attributed to Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

In its most developed form, the carrack was a carvel-built ocean-going ship: large enough to be stable in heavy seas, and capacious enough to carry a large cargo and the provisions needed for very long voyages. The later carracks were square-rigged on the foremast and mainmast and lateen-rigged on the mizzenmast. They had a high rounded stern with aftcastle, forecastle and bowsprit at the stem. As the predecessor of the galleon, the carrack was one of the most influential ship designs in history; while ships became more specialized in the following centuries, the basic design remained unchanged throughout this period.[1]


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