The Spanish Armada, 1588

A.) Prehistory

Queen Elizabeth promoted the privateers Jack Hawkins and Francis Drake who preyed on Spanish vessels and cities, mainly in overseas. She supported the Dutch Revolt and in 1568 had a Spanish ship, bringing pay for Spanish troops stationed in the Netherlands, confiscated. When a conflict arose over the succession in Portugal, England subsidized the candidates contesting Philip II.

B.) The Expedition

Preparations for the expedition against England began in 1585. When Francis Drake raided Cadiz in 1587, his object was to destroy warships and such still under construction (which he did).
A Spanish-Portuguese fleet, the Gran Armada, under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, departed from Lisbon on May 20th 1588. It consisted of 130 vessels, with a force of over 30,000 men. In Flanders it was to link up with the Spanish troops stationed over there, which were to be shipped to England. On July 27th the Spanish and English fleet faced each other off Calais; a few days later, off Gravelines a naval battle took place in which the English had the upper hand; the Spanish lost 8 or 9 vessels. The Duke of Medina Sidonia then ordered the remainder to take course around Scotland and Ireland, and return to Spain. Lacking maps, the Spanish fleet was decimated by storms and reefs. The remnanys of the fleet returned to Santander Sept. 13th 1588, with half the fleet and three quarters of the men lost.

C.) The Legacy

King Philip II., in the 1590s, sent further fleets against England; they were less significant in size, and historically insignificant. Few historical accounts even mention them.

Article Spanish Armada, from Catholic Encyclopedia
The Spanish Armada, from The History Learning Site
The Spanish Armada, from ER
Spanish Armada Website, anonymous
William S. Lind, The Duke of Medina Sidonia, posted by Free Congress Foundation Biography Duke of Medina Sidonia, from Spartacus Schoolnet
Batalhas e Combates da Marinha Portuguesa (Battles and Combats of the Portuguese Marine), 1580-1668 from ANC, in Portuguese
Philip II. and Foreign Policy, from History Learning Site, scroll down for England Paragraph
DOCUMENTS Queen Elizabeth I : against the Spanish Armada, 1588, from Modern History Sourcebook
The English Mercurie, July 23rd 1588, posted by David Cornfield
Sources on the Spanish Armada, published by PRO

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 7th 2003, last revised on November 17th 2004

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