The first capital ships were intended as flagships - conspicuous in their size, flying the banner of an admiral, and acting as a lead vessel to a fleet of smaller craft. But by the end of the 16th century, their value as fighting machines encouraged the maritime countries of Europe to build more big warships. What followed was three centuries of big-gun sailing warships, before steam power took over. The Golden Age of Sail selects the best of these vessels, from Henry Grace a Dieu, launched in 1514, through to the 19th century ironclad steam-and-sail ships, such as HMS Alexandra and Koenig Wilhelm. The book devotes a spread to each featured vessel, with expert text putting each ship into its historical, military and naval context. Throughout specifications are provided for each ship, with feature boxes outlining development and annotations pointing out particular details. Unique graphics allow the reader to compare specific features. Featuring spectacular colour profile artworks, The Golden Age of Sail is a superb celebration of 100 ships from 400 years of nautical history.