Scotlands History

The Great Michael

When launched in September of 1511, the Great Michael was the largest warship in Europe, more than twice the size of her contemporary the Mary Rose. She was ordered by King James IV. It was said at the time that ‘all the woods of Fife’ were used to build her.

Some 240 feet (73m) long, the four-masted Michael was built at Newhaven, and was home to 1000 marines, 300 sailors and 120 gunners when on duty.

She is believed to have had Mons Meg (previously used at Threave Castle) amongst her guns, making her the warship with the largest calibre (22 inches) gun ever, at that time.

Expensive to maintain, the Great Michael was sold in 1514 to Louis XII of France for 40,000 livres, becoming known as La Grande Nef d’Ecosse - The Big Nave (ship) of Scotland.

  • Sketch of the ship, The Great Michael

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