The spectacularly obvious reason why the Mary Rose sank

The Mary Rose was the pride of Henry VIII's navy, up until the moment in capsized and sank during a battle with the French in 1545. You can now go to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and see what's left of the old girl, after some enterprising archaeologists dredged her up from the bottom of the English Channel.

But almost since the moment she sank, there has beem controversey over why exactly the Mary Rose went down. Official accounts claim that a freak tide and wind forced the ship over, allowing seawater to flood her open gunports. But, according to recent research, it seems most likely that she was holed below the waterline by French cannonfire, and this sent her to the bottom.

Which seems glaringly obvious. If a ship sinks in the middle of a battle, it seems reasonable to assume enemy fire had something to do with it. Like ol' Ockham said, we should not mutliply entities beyond necessity. Or, the simplest explanation is usually the best.

The case of the Mary Rose thus emerges as one of the earliest examples of political spin in history. The loss of the Mary Rose- the royal flagship, named after the King's sister- was a humiliating disaster for the British. So, rather than let the navy's reputation take a crippling hit, the powers-that-be crafted a plausible cover story.

We like to think the vagaries of our political systems are a new creation. Not so. The British Navy showed the world how to obfuscate and twist events for public advantage five and a half centuries ago.