This collection consists of manuscript copies of Sir William Monson's six books on naval history and theory, written by him in the first half of the 17th century. The volumes contain accounts of English voyages around Europe, contemporary assessments of rival navies and of international trade, and stories of famous voyages, including those of Magellan and Columbus.
Language: The material is in English Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
William Monson was born in Lincolnshire, England, in the 1560s, the son of Sir John Monson (d. 1593) and his wife Jane. He and his brothers, Thomas and John, were raised in the Roman Catholic faith. William attended Oxford's Balliol College. His naval career began in 1585, when he joined the crew of a privateering vessel bound for Spain, and shortly thereafter, he took charge of several small vessels. In 1589, he traveled to the Canary and Azores Islands as the Earl of Cumberland's vice admiral, and in 1591 was promoted to flag captain. Spanish forces imprisoned him in Lisbon between 1591 and 1593, and, in 1596, he joined the service of Queen Elizabeth I. Monson won his own command in 1602. Following a distinguished career, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for several months as a suspect in the 1616 murder of Sir Thomas Overbury. Following his release, he became a government consultant on the subject of fisheries and began to compose his six naval tracts. In 1637, he returned to public service as a member of the Council of War. He and his wife, Dorothy Wallop, had five children. He died on February 13, 1643.
This collection consists of manuscript copies of Sir William Monson's six books on naval history and theory, which the English naval officer wrote in the first half of the 17th century. The cover of each book is stamped with a decoration and the letters "W M." The volumes contain accounts of English voyages around Europe, contemporary assessments of rival navies and of international trade, and stories of famous voyages, including those of Magellan and Columbus.
A selection of topics includes:
History of English conflict with Spain, ca. 1585-1602
Voyages of Sir Francis Drake
Voyages of other English sailors, including lists of ships and their commanders
History of English conflict with Spain, ca. 1588-1636
Timeline of important encounters with Spain
Structure of and hierarchy within the English admiralty
Contemporary naval life, including notes on punishment at sea and officers' duties
Notes on current Spanish naval strength
How to fight naval battles
Trade with the East Indies
Important historical voyages, including those of Magellan and Columbus
Voyages of Sir Francis Drake
Exploits of Cortés
Geography of Africa, inland seas, and the Northwest Passage
A plan to prevent the French from landing in England
Proposals for how to fight a war against Holland
The security of English shores
Trade with the East Indies and West Indies, particularly for tobacco
"A Project how to Ruyne Spaine"
Trade with Holland and the West Indies
"what is necessarie for a plantacon in, Lewis"
Notes on salt, casks, and fishing
"A Story of 2 Piratts" [Pirates]
"The favours England have done Holland" and assessments of Holland
Monson, William. The Naval Tracts of Sir William Monson in Six Books. ed. Michael Oppenheim. [London]: Printed for the Navy records society, 1902. Note : This printing is not an exact reproduction, but updates some of the original, Elizabethan English into more modern English.
Thrush, Andrew. "Monson, Sir William (1568?-1643)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004.