To change course while continuing to sail into the wind.

The rigging of a ship, including the ropes and pulley-blocks used to manage the sails.

This ancient city in the northeast corner of the Black Sea marked the western end of a major trade route extending all the way across Asia to China. Although Tana changed rulers several times, it was dominated by the Venetian and Genoese merchants who settled and traded there. In Michael's time, goods traded for included slaves, furs, grain, and salt fish.

thole pins
Vertical wooden pegs used as an oarlock for rowing.

A shaft attached to the head of a rudder to provide leverage for steering.

1336-1405; also called Tamerlane or Timur Lenk, from the Persian "Timur the Lame." The Central Asian leader whose conquests included Persia, Syria, Georgia, and parts of India invaded Asia Minor in 1402, defeating Ottoman Sultan Bayazed I at the Battle of Ankara that year.

The Empire of Trebizond on the southern coast of the Black Sea was formed from the wreckage of the Byzantine Empire after the capture of Constantinople by Latin crusaders in 1204. Located at the end of a caravan route leading all the way through Asia to China, it was controlled by descendants of earlier Byzantine emperors. Goods traded for here included silk, drugs, jewels, and metals.

Venetian Arsenal
The state owned and operated shipyard of Venice in which all galleys, both merchant and military were manufactured, as well as many smaller ships. The arsenal manufactured artillery and rope. It was was the largest manufacturing organization in Europe in Michael's time.

Located on several islands in a protected lagoon at the head of the Adriatic, Venice was a republic, ruled by its noble families and an elected doge. Halfway between the eastern and western ends of the Mediterranean, it thrived as a trading emporium for goods moving in both directions, as well as over the Alps to Northern Europe.

A thick horizontal timber on the outside of a ship's hull, extending from stem to stern.

A diagram indicating compass directions in terms of eight principal winds.

A wooden spar slung from a mast, on which the sails are set. Also yardarm.

A belt in the sky on either side of the apparent orbit of the sun (ecliptic), in which all the apparent motion of the sun, moon, and principal planets take place. In antiquity and in Middle Ages, it was divided into twelve sections and each section was given a name, an image related to its stars, and attributes that were supposed to influence earthly events.