THE STORY OF THE MARY ROSE by Ernle Bradford

THE STORY OF THE MARY ROSE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Tudor warship Mary Rose, which sank under the eyes of Henry VIII in 1535, is soon to be raised from the depths of Portsmouth harbor. As a fanfare, British historian Bradford (Nelson, Hannibal), in conjunction with The Mary Rose Trust, has prepared a kind of interim souvenir album: something about everything to do with the ship except the actual hull and what can only be learned from studying it. Here is the day the Mary Rose went down--sailing toward a French invasion fleet; the historical background (Henry's grandiose ambitions, his growing navy); the probable cause of the sinking--""some gross mismanagement. . . in the handling of the sails""; early salvage attempts; the hull's 19th-century rediscovery; and--for approximately half the book--the excavation and recovery initiated in the '60s by historian/skindiver Alexander McKee and supervised by archaeologist-turned-skin-diver Margaret Rule. Early and late, Bradford strews historical curiosa about; he oversells the Mary Rose (perhaps the first warship with a complete lower deck of guns) as a historical missing-link; his account of the excavation is sketchy as to what-when-and-how. Nonetheless, the rime-capsule aspect triumphs. The guns were recovered ready for action, shot and wad and gunpowder in place; the bows and arrows lay beside the skeletons of the archers; the barber surgeon's cabin yielded two urethral syringes, ""even the velvet coif worn by the barber surgeon, as evidence of his belonging to the guild."" Not the last word on the find--but, with the many photos (in color and black-and-white), an enticing preview.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1982
Publisher: Norton