The Mary Rose: A “Historical Death Star (With a Baffling Flaw)”

By Phillip Parsons

The Sinking of the Mary Rose by Geoff Hunt

As those of you who read this awesome post about Captain Bligh might recall, I love Cracked. They have a tendency to publish historical themed articles with a twist, and just recently published one featuring Henry VIII’s favorite carrack ship the Mary Rose. Bad language ahead, so be warned…

Every child reaches a point in his life where he asks a grown up, “Why did the Empire spend all that time and money building the Death Star, only to leave that vulnerable exhaust port wide open?” That question marks the end of your naive childhood and the beginning of your life as a cynical adult.

But Star Wars was more true to life than you think. History is full of unstoppable super-weapons and fortresses that tended to have one, ridiculous flaw the enemy could take advantage of.


4. The Mary Rose

The Mary Rose, launched in 1511, was possibly the most badass warship the world had ever seen up to that point. It was in fact one of the first ships built solely for war–up until then, navies would just take merchant vessels and stick some guns on them. On the sides of the Mary Rose was a new invention: gun ports. Doors you could stick cannons out of. These allowed the Mary Rose to broadside other vessels and obliterate them. The ship had up to 91 heavy guns and several more anti-personnel guns, designed to take out an opposing ship’s sailors.

The ship was ordered built by Henry VIII, motivated by one of the most powerful emotions known to man: hatred of the French. England was always threatened by the massive French Navy and the Mary Rose was intended to be the equalizer.

The Fatal Flaw:

It was a boat with big-ass holes in the side.

We’re guessing you’ve never designed and built a boat before, let alone a warship, but you probably can guess the problem that comes from building a boat with lots and lots of holes in its hull. Those gun ports were placed really close to the water, and if they tried to turn (which causes the boat to tilt) without sealing up the ports, water can come rushing in.

And that is how the Mary Rose managed to sink without the enemy firing a single shot.

It happened during the Battle of the Solent, fought between French and English fleets. If eyewitnesses at the time are to be believed, the Mary Rose fired all of her guns on one side, and went to turn around to aim the loaded cannons on the other side at the french. A sudden gust of wind caught the sails and tipped the boat over a little more, and much to the surprise of a whole bunch of British sailors, water came pouring in her starboard gun ports. Most of the ship was under water before anyone could figure out what the hell had just happened.

Now, there are accounts by the French claiming that their guns sank the ship, but why would the British invent a version of the story that makes them look stupider?

The Outcome: Out of the 400 men on board the Mary Rose, only 35 escaped the ship. Along with the crew, the pride of the Royal Navy was gone.

The rest of the article is also hilarious; check it out here. Courtesy of

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