Sovereign of the Seas

1637
England

In the 17th century this largest galleon ever, built by order of King Charles I of England. As the costs were getting out of hand and consequently many extra taxes (the so-called ship money) had to be levied, this ultimately cost him his head. Shipwright Phineas Pett probably also built the Prince Royal, the first three-decker in history, armed with 56 cannons. The Sovereign of the Seas, a tall three-decker with three masts and 100 cannons, was at least 150 years ahead of her time. She was richly adorned with royal coats of arms and monograms.
The figurehead depicted Edgar the Peaceful, who overran seven kings. On the prow sits a cupid on a lion. The six goddesses among the ram balks stood for wisdom, diplomacy, prudence, diligence, strength, valour and triumph. High on the round escutcheon stood the goddess of victory, together with Neptune, Jupiter, Hercules and Jason. All adornments were wrought in gold. She got the nickname of “The Golden Devil” from the Dutch, who came across this invincible ship in all four English wars. The only drawback of this perfect ship was her deep draught, so that the lee battery could not be used. Much later she was rechristened Royal Sovereign. Through a cookís carelessness she was sent up in flames by an overthrown candle in 1697.