Could an earlier and simple variation of the steamship be built around the 14th-17th century? If not, are there alternatives to having a ship not powered by sails?

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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of How can my ancient Roman civilization develop effective steam power for use in ships? . $\endgroup$ – We are Monica. May 11 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ You'll probably be interested in the Ring of Fire series by Eric Flint et al., where an American town time-travels to 1632 Thuringia and starts a technological revolution. Among other things, simple steam designs are discussed at length (both in RoF and in the Grantville Gazette that accompanies the series). $\endgroup$ – LSerni May 11 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ A somewhat one-sided discussion of "earliest time X can be invented" questions is occurring here, on Meta. It will give you insight into how to better ask this question and keep it from being closed as primarily opinion-based. $\endgroup$ – JBH May 11 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ @LSerni a whole town! That's a great series to point people to. I can believe a whole town with all its infrastructure, skills, and trained people. Great comment! $\endgroup$ – JBH May 11 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ Another series on the topic, specifically targeting steamships (but earlier in time) is The Emperor's Men. German seamen find themselves in the late Roman Empire and must teach weapons and steam if they want to survive. $\endgroup$ – LSerni May 11 at 19:26