At the end of the fourth century, the Roman Empire was definitively divided into two: East and West. Islam arrived in the Iberian Peninsula in 711, having conquered North Africa. The Mediterranean becomes a border sea, divided between Muslims and Christians.
During the first medieval centuries, maritime transport was carried out in merchant vessels with Latin rigging, very suitable for Mediterranean navigation. The influence of the Nordic shipbuilding enters the Mediterranean appearing the coca. At the end of the Middle Ages, the nobility is emphasized, the caravel is perfected, and the galley remains the warship par excellence.
In the thirteenth century, the introduction of the compass helps to make nautical charts and portulanos very precise, marking anchorages and sea routes.
The period of the great exploratory voyages opens; Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America and the Route of the Spices, initiated by Magallanes and finished by Elcano.
The Spanish colonies can only trade with a peninsular port: first Seville and then Cadiz. For this, a single commercial route, the Carrera de Indias, is established. Soon, the threat of corsairs forces the creation of the convoy system, with merchant ships guarded by other heavily armed, galleons.
The industrial revolutions that take place between the second half of the eighteenth century and the first of the nineteenth century, develop a series of technological improvements that apply to the naval world. It perfects the steam engine, included in the frigates of war. Steelmakers produce better forges of stronger and more durable steel and alloys. In the middle of the 19th century, the shipyards were industrialized and started to built ships with metallic structure.