Galleons were sailing ships developed from the former predominant Mediterranian
Carracks and Caravels; Christopher Columbus sailed to America
using "big" caravels (Nina and Pinta) and a "small" carrack (Santa Maria),
but compared to modern ship sizes, caravels and even carracks were very small indeed, so that bigger, oceangoing ships were built.
So, the carracks were made bigger and gradually became the later galleons.
The developement from caravel and carrack to galleon
was a long process, and so, a galleon was often also still called a carrack. More precise distictions were made
in modern times only but were of no importance in those days.
galleons were the Spanish and Portuguese galleons, around 1450. Then this type was built by all major seafaring nations
until around 1700 (well, some historian may discuss the dates, but very little evidence is available for any theory).
Spanish galleons were the biggest ships of their time, tranporting cargos from the various colonies
home to Spain. Some of them, although still called galleons or carracks, were in fact
galleys mostly in the Mediterranian, oared by some hundred men and supported by sails -
another example which makes it cumbersome
to make some meaningful distinctions,
as we rely on ancient documents after all which are quite ambivalent and sketchy, and thus hard to interpret correctly in modern times.
The rigging of the galleons was higher and wider than that for caravels, due to the larger sizes of the ships.
It was alike the rigging of the big Carracks.
Spanish galleons continued to have 4 masts, 2 square rigged (top and even topgallant sails) and 2 lateen.
Smaller, more agile English and Dutch galleons were built as an answer to the heavier, slow Spanyards; but they shared the same rigging (almost):
Bowsprit: 1 square spritsail
Fore Mast: 2-4 square sails [course, topsail, topgallant sail, royals very rarely]
Main Mast: 2-4 square sails [course, topsail, topgallant sail, royals very rarely]
Mizzen Mast: 1-2 lateen mizzen sails only
on large galleons: "Bonaventure Mast", a second Mizzen Mast: 1 lateen mizzen only
- no staysails, no stunsails
Both "types" of galleons fought 1588 in the Battle of Gravelines: the
against the Royal Fleet.