Galleon, a large sailing ship of the 16th to 18th century, designed to be a warship. It had a slimmer, straighter hull and a lower superstructure than other large ships of its time and was faster and more maneuverable. The galleon had a projection called a beak-head extending below the bowsprit in imitation of a galley's ram. The ship had thick bulwarks, and guns were mounted through holes in the sides.
Under Sir John Hawkins, Elizabethan galleons were made still slimmer and lower. Their improved sailing qualities enabled them to defeat the more cumbersome ships of the Spanish Armada in the attempted invasion of England in 1588.