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This book focuses on maritime conflicts as a part of the transformation of Europe from the end of the fifteenth century to the mid-seventeenth century. The main lines of this transformation arc well known. From a maritime perspective some parts of the process arc especially important. Long-distance trade increased and the role of capitalist entrepreneurs in society became more important in large pads of Europe. In the Mediterranean, the Spanish and the Ottoman empires became dominant during the first half of the sixteenth century. In the last decades of mat century and the early decades of the seventeenth century the economic and political power of north-western Europe rapidly rose while the Mediterranean stagnated. The importance of the territorially integrated states in Europe rose and they began to develop permanent organisations for enforcing a state monopoly of violence on land as well as at sea. Finally. Europe developed an ability to influence economy and politics on a world-wide scale by its superior competence in warfare at sea. Warfare itself was also transformed. At sea. the institutional, organisational and technical framew-orks for war and violence changed decisively betw-een 1500 and 1650. This book will emphasise change but some basic features of conflicts at sea remained unchanged. Warfare at sea is essentially a contest about me maritime lines of communication. These lines are used for trade, for projection into territories close to the sea and as a source of wealth extracted by violence or through protection from violence. Consequently, wars at sea are fought in the interest of those who use the sea for trade, for the projection of military power and for resource extraction: plunder and taxes. Wars are also fought by those who feel threatened if competing groups arc given free access to the sea for such activities. For the defender against seaborne invasion me sea is a forward area for naval operations which aim at delaying and preventing threats against his territory. Wars may have their immediate cause in accidental diplomatic breakdowns, domestic power politics or the vanity of rulers but once started they arc shaped by the practical possibilities of inflicting damage on me enemy and giving protection to friends...