(Nation World News)– A battleship carrying about 330 people, including the future King of England, James Stuart, ran aground and sank on May 6, 1682. Now, 340 years later, the location of the wreck off the coast of England has finally been discovered.
When HMS Gloucester sank, she was halfway buried at sea level. There was no official passenger manifesto, but it is estimated that between 130 and 250 crew and passengers lost their lives.
Stuart, who would be crowned King James II of England and Ireland and James VII of Scotland nearly three years later, narrowly joined the list of victims.
At the time of the disaster, the then Duke of York was the Catholic heir to the Protestant throne at a time of political and religious tension. Her Near Miss is notable in British history, as is the significant loss of life.
“Given the circumstances of her sinking, this is arguably the most significant historical maritime discovery since Mary Rose was raised in 1982,” Clare Jovitt, professor of English and history at the University of East Anglia, said in a statement. United Kingdom .
“The discovery promises to fundamentally change the understanding of the social, maritime and political history of the 17th century.”
Artifacts from the site have already been collected and preserved, including clothing, footwear, navigational and naval equipment, and numerous bottles of wine, some of which are unopened.
One of the wine bottles has a glass stamp bearing the crest of the Legg family, the ancestors of George Washington. And the design of that shield predates the American stars and stripes.
An exhibition of the wreck’s discovery will open this spring at the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. Jovitt is co-curator of the exhibition and author of a new study on the shipwreck.
The discovery of the wreck has just been announced, but it was initially found in 2007. The delay was due to the time required to confirm the ship’s identity and protect the endangered site located in international waters off the Norfolk coast.
Historic England, a public body of the British government that oversees the Historic Sites of England, will guard the ship.
in search of shipwreck
Brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell decided to search for the ship when they were children, inspired by the Mary Rose lifting the ship they had seen on television. The brothers are printers in Norfolk, as well as chartered divers and honorary members of the University of East Anglia’s School of History.
The Barnwell brothers and their late father, Michael, found the wreck after four years of searching along with their friend and fellow diver and former Royal Navy submariner, James Little. Gloucester was split in the keel, with parts of the hull still submerged in the sand.
“This was our fourth season diving to Gloucester,” Lincoln Barnwell said in a statement. “We were beginning to believe that we weren’t going to find it, we had dived so much and found nothing but sand. When we got to the bottom of the sea, the first thing I saw were huge cannons lying on the white sand Yes, it was impressive and really beautiful. At that time we were the only people in the world who knew where the debris was.
This ship’s bell, made in 1681, was recovered from the wreck. The wreck receiver and the Ministry of Defense used the bell to identify the vessel as Gloucester in 2012.
A shipwreck with many consequences
Gloucester was first used as a 50-gun battleship in 1654, becoming a Royal Navy ship in 1660. When it came time for the Duke of York to travel from England to Scotland to do royal business and collect his daughter Anne and her pregnant. Modena’s wife, Mary, was commissioned to Gloucester, in 1682. The Duke of York and his family would remain at the court of Charles II.
Jowitt wrote in his study, “It was politically advantageous for Mary’s child to be born in England; the royal family expected him to be a prince to carry on the Stuart dynasty.”
By 1682, Charles was getting old and was already suffering a stroke. Power was already in some cases going into the hands of the Duke of York. He was accompanied by prominent courtiers from England, Ireland and Scotland.
At 5:30 a.m. on 6 May, the ship ran 28 miles off the coast of Great Yarmouth. Duke, a former Lord Admiral of the Royal Navy, argued with the pilot over control of the ship’s course, and they quarreled over the best way to navigate Norfolk’s notoriously treacherous sandbanks.
The ship sank within an hour, and the Duke delayed leaving the ship, believing it could be saved until the last minute. Protocol stipulated that no one could be evicted before royalties, which contributed to the tragedy. By the time the Duke and a ship containing a vault of his memories and political documents were able to escape, only one other ship was able to escape.
The dead included high-ranking nobles, relatives of the Duke and most of the staff of the Duke’s household. According to Jowitt, the identities of only a portion of the victims are currently known.
Gloucester was part of a fleet of ships, so there were many eyewitnesses to the tragedy. The Duke had influenced the choice of the dangerous route, but accepted no responsibility for the disaster and blamed the pilot, who was imprisoned.
Some see the sinking as a way of questioning the duke’s decisions under pressure and his fitness to rule as future monarch, Jovitt said. Her reign was brief, from 1685 to 1688, before she was overthrown during the Glorious Revolution and replaced by Protestants: her daughter Mary Stuart and her husband, William of Orange.
An accompanying landmark research project will explore the failures that led to the sinking of HMS Gloucester, as well as conspiracy theories about the cause of the tragedy and the long political shadow it cast.