Spanish Armada

In July, 1588, one hundred and thirty warships, twenty-two of them fearsome fighting galleons, set sail from Spain, bent on invading England. They’d tried to do that back in the spring, but had to return to port after a bad storm damaged several ships. They should have taken that as an omen, because the July attempt didn’t work out too well either.
It wasn’t a surprise attack. The Spanish had let slip a few details about their huge fleet, thinking this would intimidate the English and frighten them into submission before they even got there. The English therefore knew they were coming, but did not appear to be frightened and certainly weren’t about to surrender because, well, the English just don’t. (A combination of stiff upper lip and sheer bloody-mindedness that started with Queen Boudicca and her followers back in the first century A.D. and got even stronger after some Celts, Vikings, and Normans entered the gene pool.)
Text messaging not having been invented yet, warnings regarding the approach of the Spanish Armada was relayed by the lighting of beacons all along the coast as soon as it was sighted.
Admiral Charles Howard (also known as Lord Howard of Effingham) was in charge of the British fleet, but the person most associated with the defeat of the Spanish Armada was the famous privateer (translation: pirate) & explorer, Vice Admiral, Sir Francis Drake, who was stationed at Plymouth. Legend has it that, upon receiving word the Spanish had arrived, Drake was so unconcerned, he finished a game of bowls he was playing before going out to engage them.
Whether this happened or not, the English did engage them, using a new method of sea fighting: broadside. Instead of fighting close to enemy ships and boarding them to gain control, Drake and other commanders had trained their men to sail in a line and, keeping at a safe distance, bombard opponents with long-range guns. This proved extremely effective, especially since the little English ships were faster than the big Spanish ones.
For several days, the English harried the Spanish up and down the Channel, finally forcing them into the open sea, where they were able to inflict even more damage. They then chased the Armada up to Scotland. When they ran out of supplies, they turned back, leaving what was left of the Armada (about half) to limp back to Spain damaged and demoralized.
Rule Britannia.


One comment

  1. […] Historic Failures: Spanish Armada Tries to Invade England […]

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