London, Aug.1 : The pride of Tudor King Henry VIII's navy - the Mary Rose - sank during a battle with the French because its Spanish crew did not understand the commands that were given in English.
For generations, the reason why the Mary Rose sank during a battle with a French invasion force has divided historians.
Now, the new theory that is being circulated and accepted is that the ship was lost because two thirds of its crew were foreigners who failed to understand orders.
Forensic science examinations of the 16th-century crew's skulls have revealed that the majority were not British but southern European, most probably Spanish.
Researchers believe that the vessel's fate was sealed because of their inability to understand their officers' orders when it began taking on water in the Solent, off Portsmouth, in 1545. It is believed that the crewmen were either mercenaries from the Continent recruited to fight by Henry VIII or Spanish soldiers shipwrecked penniless in Britain and forced into military service.
The new theory also goes some way towards solving the riddle of the last words reputedly shouted by the ship's admiral, George Carew, to another English ship, that his men were "knaves I cannot rule".
Hugh Montgomery, a medical researcher at University College London, has put this latest explanation forward.
He reached the conclusion after he and a team of experts carried out an exhaustive examination of the crew's remains with the permission of the Mary Rose Trust.
The ship was raised in 1982 after the recovery of a wealth of artefacts, as well as 10,000 human bones.