In the golden age of sailing ships, Sweden, one of the dominant sea powers, sought to build the definitive sea-going warship. The Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus, sought to bring forth a ship that would dominate the seas. This capability would tip the scales of dominance in Northern Europe, further strengthen the trading area of the Swedish commercial interests and diminish the influence of Poland and other rivals.

To achieve these lofty goals, the experienced engineers and designers of the time simply continued down the main axis of development of warship power and influence: size. They brought forth one of the largest warships the world had ever seen, the Vasa. It carried a complement of 64 cannons in two decks and more than 200 men. It towered above the harbor and boasted beautiful carvings, a spacious deck and officers' quarters. Its size and implicit powers were celebrated throughout the land. The implications of its capabilities caused much consternation among Sweden's rivals and much speculation among the various trading cartels and commercial interests of the time.

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