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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter discusses about the history of Scottish maritime warfare remains largely understudied given that the country is almost entirely surrounded by the sea. The Gaels of Scotland added a particular dimension to Scottish maritime warfare as they still presented a potent maritime threat in their use of galleys and birlinns. The continued use of galleys and birlinns was ensured through the compulsory service enforced by particular Gaelic chiefs well into the seventeenth century and the number of these vessels available to them was very often in the hundreds. In a Scottish context these vessels were most often used for passive purposes, coastal defence, armed resistance and sometimes piracy. The chapter focuses on the piratical rather than the legitimate forms of maritime warfare.

Keywords: birlinns; galleys; Scottish maritime warfare

10.1163/ej.9789004185685.i-444.9
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