The Importance of HEMP to the military through the ages

Hemp and the Military


Hemp has such a huge history dating back to around 8000BC. But Hemp Rope and Cloth played a huge part in Military history around the world. It became such a valuable commodity that battles were fought over it and military strikes organised to protect trade routes and supplies. So why did it become such an important product? 

Hemp was used to make Ropes and fishing nets dating back to 4500BC in China.  Evidence shows it was used to build the pyramids in Egypt probably because of it's strength. Hemp Ropes and Sails were used by both military and trade ships around the world mainly because of its strength and resistance to rotting, a very important quality on board a ship. The Vikings used it for sails and ropes and also for fishing nets and lines. They even used Hemp for caulking their boats and Columbus had Hemp sails and ropes when he made his trip to discover America. It's wide spread use around the world was incredible.  

Our own Military ships used Hemp Ropes and there was so much demand for it that Henry VIII passed an act in 1535 that decreed that all landowners must sow 1/4 acre of hemp or be fined. Queen Elizabeth I did the same as did King Philip of spain. Hemp was Huge! Not only was it used for the ropes and sails but the cloth bags that carried goods on board the boats was Hemp fibre along with a large majority of clothing and military uniforms. Then of course we haven't even factored in the use of Hemp in paper, food, animal feed, fuel and medicines. 

During the18th Century Hemp was supplied to the UK by Russia and Military manouvers were undertaken to keep that supply route open when Napolean made a move to shut it down. However the advent of Steam and Oil power saw about the decline in the need for Hemp although new laws were brushed aside and waivered during the WWII in the US to allow Hemp ropes to make a come back. 

It is such a shame that such a valuable and useful product was passed over as new inventions came through especially as the new modern alternatives to so many of these items are not as good for the environment. The resurgence of Hemp and Hemp products is a welcome one and we should look first to what is provided naturaly before using products that aren't necessary and hang around littering our planet for hundreds of years.