The discovery of a British Crown warship that sank off the east coast of England more than three centuries ago while a future king was on board was announced by researchers in the United Kingdom on Friday. The secret for 15 years to protect the wreckage from potential treasure hunters, Reuters reports.
In 1682, the future King James II of England, who was then Duke of York, escaped from The Gloucester, which sank off the east coast. of England after hitting a sandbar. Three years later, the Duke of York would ascend to the throne of England, where he reigned under the name of James II, and that of Scotland, where he reigned under the name of James VII.
“This discovery promises to fundamentally change the way historians understand the political, social, and maritime context of the seventeenth century,” said Claire Jowitt, a history professor at the University of East Anglia. “It is an extraordinary example of cultural heritage of national and international importance,” Jowitt was quoted as saying by Agerpres.
The whereabouts of the wreck, about 45 miles offshore of Great Yarmouth, remained a mystery until it was found by brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell in 2007 after a four-year search.
“During a dive, the first thing I saw was a big cannon sitting on the white sand and it was a stunning and extremely beautiful picture,” said Lincoln Barnwell.
On the wreck were various historical artifacts, including a bottle bearing a seal with the Legge family insignia – from which the first president of the United States, George Washington, is drawn.
“Because the ship sank very quickly, no one had time to save any of the valuables on board,” said Claire Jowitt, who described the wreck using the phrase “an extraordinary time capsule.”
Among the objects discovered on the wreck are navigation equipment used in those days, personal belongings, clothes and bottles of wine – some of them with intact contents.
Experts estimate that between 130 and 250 people died in the shipwreck, which could have changed the course of England’s history. Six years after the sinking of The Gloucester, Catholic King James II was dethroned by his son-in-law and nephew, the Protestant William of Orania, during the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688, which paved the way for the future British constitutional monarchy.
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