• Medieval England was a great military power with a sophisticated machinery of government, but her naval administration, at best improvised and for long periods missing altogether, pointed to a grave weakness: the lack of any reliable means of putting a force of warships at the disposal of the crown. Only Richard I and Henry V of all the kings of England can be said to have understood the problem and attempted to remedy it. It is no coincidence that they wer by far the most successful in war.