To most of us (the uninitiated), the sailing ships of the past are a thing of myth and romance. We see paintings of graceful ships' hulls cutting through majestic waves, rigging taut and sails billowing. We imagine the freedom of the sea and it stirs something deep within us. There's a yearning to test our mettle, feel our smallness under the open sky and on the open sea, experience the power of the waves as they crash on the deck during a gale.
A lot of nautical fiction tends to focus on the narrow European "age of sail," especially the age of discovery and the epic sea battles of the Napoleanic wars. But, of course, Maritime history is much broader than that. It's an overarching subject that includes lots of topics, like fishing, whaling, international maritime law, naval history, the history of ships, ship design, shipbuilding, the history of navigation, the history of the various maritime-related sciences (oceanography, cartography, hydrography, etc.), sea exploration, maritime economics and trade, shipping, yachting, seaside resorts, the history of lighthouses and aids to navigation, maritime themes in literature, maritime themes in art, the social history of sailors and passengers and sea-related communities.
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