A carrack was a three- or four-masted ocean-going sailing ship that was developed in the 13th to 15th centuries in Europe (mainly Portugal). Evolved from the single-masted cog, the carrack was first used for European trade from the Mediterranean to the Baltic and quickly found use with the newly found wealth and status of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In its most advanced forms, it was used by the Portuguese for trade along the African coast and finally with Asia and America from the 15th century before evolving into the galleon of the 16th and 17th centuries.
In its most developed form, the carrack was a carvel-built ocean-going ship: large enough to be stable in heavy seas, and for a large cargo and the provisions needed for very long voyages. The later carracks were square-rigged on the foremast and mainmast and lateen-rigged on the mizzenmast. They had a high rounded stern with large aftcastle, forecastle and bowsprit at the stem. As the predecessor of the galleon, the carrack was one of the most influential ship designs in history; while ships became more specialized in the following centuries, the basic design remained unchanged throughout this period.