The sea played various roles in warfare during the medieval period. It could simply be the geographical area over which warriors must travel before engaging in military action. Ships could be used as a base for attacking coastal fortifications. Some warfare was actually fought at sea, between warriors standing on the decks of ships: this warfare was naval in its situation, but otherwise was similar to land warfare. Once the ships had grappled each other and been drawn together, the battle was fought with bows, javelins and swords as it was on land; the ship acted simply as the method of transportation. However, by the thirteenth century it is possible from the surviving sources to identify tactics or methods of fighting which were specific to naval warfare, and which set warfare at sea apart from warfare on land.
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