LIVORNO XEBEC 1753
Scale 3/16 (1:64) - Walnut, Lime, Beech, African Padauk
An agile fighting vessel, armed with 26 guns. It was used by the city state of Livorno to guard against attack from barbary pirates.
THE CITY OF LIVORNO
Livorno was designed as an "Ideal town" during the Italian Renaissance, when the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was ruled by the House of Medici.
In the late 1580s, Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, declared Livorno a free port (porto franco), allowing goods to be traded duty-free within the area of the town's control. The town’s laws offered the right of public freedom of religion. People could conduct civil business without having to gain penance by the clergy. The Grand Duke attracted numerous Turks, Persians, Moors, Greeks, and Armenians, along with Jewish immigrants fleeing persecution in Spain. Livorno became an enlightened city and one of the most important ports of the entire Mediterranean Basin.
After the gradual silting up of the port of Pisa in the 13th century, which lead to a decline in the city’s trading status, Livorno became the main port of Tuscany. At the end of the 17th century it underwent a period of great urban planning and expansion. Near the defensive pile of the Old Fortress, a new fortress was built, along with town walls and a system of navigable canals through the city. By 1745 population had risen to 32,534. The more successful of the European powers re-established trading houses in the region, especially the British with the Levant Company.
At that time the port of Livorno (as well as that of Napoli) employed Xebecs to patrol the coastline and protect trading ships from barbary corsairs.
Xebecs were similar to galleys used by Algerian corsairs and Barbary pirates, using both lateen sails and oars for propulsion. Early xebecs had two masts; later ones three. They featured a distinctive hull with pronounced overhanging bow and stern, and rarely displaced more than 200 tons, making them slightly smaller and with slightly fewer guns than frigates of the period.
Sea-going Mediterranean peoples greatly favoured xebecs as corsair ships. The corsairs built their xebecs with a narrow floor to achieve a higher speed than their victims, but with a considerable beam in order to enable them to carry an extensive sail-plan. The lateen rig of the xebec allowed it to sail close hauled to the wind, giving it an advantage in pursuit or escape. The use of oars allowed it to approach becalmed vessels. When used as corsairs, the xebecs carried a crew of 300 to 400 men and mounted perhaps 16 to 40 guns according to size.
No original plans for the ship survive, but Xebecs in general are well documented.
The model was built based on a combination of plans, based mainly on those for Le Requin, a French Xebec of the same era, though somewhat larger.
CONSTRUCTION AND MATERIALS
Construction method: Frame on bulkhead, double planked
Keel and bulkheads: Marine Grade Plywood
Internal planking: Maple
External planking: African Padauk, Walnut, Lime
Deck planking: Beech
Masts and yards: Walnut, Maple
Rigging thread: Hemp
Boudriot, Jean and Berti, Hubert. Xebec Le Requin 1750, A Monograph. Editions Ancre.
Xebec 1753 by Amati.
Xebec (Mediterranean) XVIII by M. Olave, Museo Naval
Chebeque Le Boberach by V. Legrand and Pr. Birret
Xebec Harun el Rascid by Ed Sirenette