A folk art model of a 17th century warship from the Brandenburg Navy.
This was the active sea power of the Margraviate of Brandenburg in Germany, active from the 16th century until 1701, when it became part of the Prussian Navy.
The navy was founded by the Hohenzollern rulers of Brandenburg in order to defend the state from the Baltic Sea and to protect their colonial interests in Africa and the Caribbean. It was at its most active under Frederick William of Brandenburg (1620-1688), who had amassed almost 30 warships to the force by 1683, the date referenced on the ship's sail. After his death, the navy was greatly diminished before being absorbed by the Prussian Navy in 1701 when the present elector of Brandenburg, Frederick III, was also crowned Duke of Prussia.
In the 16th and 17th centuries warships were spectacularly decorated with bright colours, as rival navies vied to express their wealth and power.