What was sea travel like in the middle ages and how did it effect trade?
Dino Fazlic 8B

Sea travel in medieval times was preferred over land travel. The main reason is it was cheaper, quicker and much more comfortable transport. Sea travel was not used much for exploration because people only went around Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It was thought the world was flat and if they went too far they would fall down a big waterfall, so people had no idea that Australia and America existed!

Merchants traveled great distances to find goods, to sell and trade. From Africa they brought slaves, sugar, gold, ivory, and precious stones. From Asia came silk, furs, carpets, and the valuable spices such as pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Trade made medieval merchants rich and the rulers wealthy were the trade took place because they taxed all traded goods.

Sea travel became a need to establish trade routes. Many ports closed during the Black Death between 1347 and 1350. It is believed that the plague was brought to Europe via merchant ships from Asia.

Bad weather and pirates were constant threats to sea travel. If a crew was stranded, they had little hope of being rescued as many countries had laws that said all cargo recovered from a stranded ship was the property of the finders ,if there were no survivors. Despite these dangers, trade gained popularity during the Middle Ages and trade routes were very busy during the height of the summer. .

The Medieval ships were powered by sail or oar, or both Ships in the north were influenced by Viking vessels, while those in the south by Roman vessels.
A typical medieval trade ship was called a cog and was designed for trading purposes. Merchants wanted to carry as much as possible and return home as little as possible, so the large size of the ship with a flat bottom and a high box shaped hull has been designed to carry as much cargo as possible.
Cogs were among the first ships to use a rudder to steer. The rudder on a cog was fixed at the center of the bow of the ship that helped control steering the ship.


Modern Days
Sea travel these days is powered by machines and computer navigation, is faster, safer and luxurious, speed can be reached up to 511km/ph. Trade is a major buisiness in sea travel. Importing and exporting is happening in every country as we speak. Sea travel for passengers has been reduced since the introduction of aviation and air travel,it is not the only option for travelling any more, but is still used for traveling short distances and pleasure cruises.

Our technology today wouldn’t be as advanced if we didn’t have the base from the medieval inventions and discoveries, our lives would still be dependant on church ideas and principles .