We watched nations compete for the best ocean trade routes. Trade with the Far East, India and the New World was how nations made money, how they kept themselves alive. And so they protected their trade routes and created monopolies—exclusive ownership of a market. Venice, Spain, Portugal and then England built ships mounted with cannon to enforce their ownership of trade routes. Ship design grew from the charming little caravel to the mighty ship of the line. These military ships, together, are called a navy. By the end of the 1600s naval power was the big instrument for building empires.
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