Blue Ribbon Campaign
Leopold von Ranke, one of the greatest German historians of the 19th century, wrote in his last work, the Universal History, in which he summarized the experiences of his life, devoted to the studies on the human history, that probably the only destiny of the human race was to ripen and develop through the voyages by sea and wars between neighbouring states. "Voyages by sea and wars", according to him, were two factors that fostered the development of the mankind, and therefore shaped the whole course of its history. As to the "wars between neighbouring states" he most likely means wars between neighbours on the land, although neighbours at sea, even in the ancient times, waged big wars one on another. With the development of the seafaring water, and the sea in particular, ceased to be a separating element, and became a binding element, both in peaceful and military plane.

Finally, the phrase "the only destiny" most likely does not express pity that the human destiny was not different. He spoke not about a regretful fluctuation, but about a regular phenomenon of the human development - unchangeable and continuous, estranged from random influences.

Voyages by sea and wars were the direct ways of the human development, amalgamated in the institutions of the navies. Navies often decided about the fates of the nations, and therefore made the ways of the world history. Although the scale of the conflicts at sea is not commensurable with that on the land, very often sea wars had bigger impact on the human history than land wars. Until battles of Stalingrad and Kursk no land battle had such a historical importance as the battles of Actium and Trafalgar. The former secured to its winner the rule over the whole ancient world for five centuries; the latter - a century-long control of nearly all the seas.

Nevertheless, historians of all the times paid more attention to the land armies and campaigns; not only they enjoyed bigger interest, but also bigger understanding, than the seafaring and naval campaigns.

Uneven sea, the arena of the sea wars, to most of the humans is alien and frightful, and the naval service leaves little time for scientific and literary activities. That is why a man o'sea seldom takes on writing, even if he is predisposed for that. None of the great naval commanders left description of his campaigns as did Julius Caesar or Frederic the Great, or, closer in time, the whole pleiad of the Second World War commanders. That is why the history of the sea wars is fragmentary, unsatisfactory, and often contradictory. It does not help to see the bigger picture.

It is self-evident that sea wars could begin only when seafaring developed, and that is why it is proper to examine the history of seafaring and peoples most merited in its development. The beginnings are going to the times, about which we have no written evidence. The first means of water transportation most likely were rafts, constructed of the bundles of reed, as it still can be seen on the lake Titicaca in the Andes, or tree trunks, like it is customary on the rivers of western Canada. Such rafts would float with the stream, or be propelled against the stream by the means of long poles; they had a wooden log for the rudder, and a primitive hut for the shelter.

The next advancement came with the dug-out trunk of a tree, as it is still in use in southern seas. Such a primitive boats were set in motion with a pair of oars, and sometimes also a primitive sail. Those vessels already required some use of tools in the process of their construction, which fostered the technological progress. It logically led to the vessels made of separate planks, with many oars and diversified sails. Such a progress was possible only with developed crafts and ability to process metals.

The first impulse for seafaring came with fisheries, after which followed exchange of the goods, namely the sea trade. At once the sea trade encountered a new phenomenon in the vast oceanic spaces, where even nowadays force often substitutes for the law, that is piracy. To the ancient peoples, who knew not the concept of international laws yet, every stranger was an enemy, who could be killed unpunished. Sea piracy was considered neither criminal, nor shameful, and was conducted completely openly. All the seafaring people conducted piracy at sea, hunting for goods and people, and maintained slave trade. Those events left their trace in the literature, in the stories of abduction of Helen and the slavery of Eumaeus.

In respect of ability and fitness for seafaring, individual nations differed one from another, sometimes diametrically. Some of them seemed to be predisposed by nature for seafaring and sea adventures; others, contrary, did not nurse any desire for sea travels - the feeling that sometimes grew into a mystical fear of the sea.

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights
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