The Spanish Armada

The Spanish Armada The Spanish Armada The Spanish Armada was a great Spanish fleet sent by King Philip II of Spain in 1588 to invade England. It was ironically called “Invincible.” During the late 1500s, Spain was the major international power over much of the known world (Goldman 1). Spains leader, King Philip II, wanted to conquer the Protestants from England and convert them to the Church of Rome. King Philip II also had hatred against Queen Elizabeth I, and wanted revenge because she had executed Mary Queen of Scotland in 1587 (Goldman 1). King Philip II of Spain began the assembling and formation on the Spanish Armada. The Armada left Libson on the 20th of May 1588.

The Armada consisted of about 130 ships. Mediterranean and Atlantic fleets had up to 8,000 sailors and around 19,000 soldiers (Colliers Encyclopedia 559). They joined another 30,000 soldiers from Spain totaling 50,000 men. The commanders of the fleet were Duke of Madina Sidonia, Francis Drake, Duck of Parma, an admiral named Don Alvaro de Bazon, and Marquis of Santa Cruz, who had organized the Armada (Colliers Encyclopedia 559). The English and Dutch knew that King Philip would attack, and sent small squadrons under Sir William Wynter and Lord Henry Seymour to patrol the Netherlands Coast (Goldman 1). The English sent 54 of the Queens best ships to Plymouth on the English Channel to Blockade and destroy the Armada before it left the Spanish Coast.

On July 29, 1588, after the bad weather had passed, the Armada was spotted off the Sicily Isles near southwestern England (Goldman 1). The battle between Spain and the English had begun when they first spotted each other. The two opposite sides first met off of Plymouth, near Eddystone Rocks on July 31, when three of the Spanish ships were lost (Colliers Encyclopedia 660). The larger part of the English fleet was at Plymouth. The English fleet harassed the Spanish fleet but were unable seriously damage the Spanish formation.

Thanks to new tactics, the English fleet pounded the Spaniards form beyond the range of Spanish guns (The Encyclopedia American 327). The Armada reached the Strait of Dover on August 6, and secured in an unprotected position off Calais. The English also secured in a position but were forced to retreat to guard the narrow seas (Colliers Encyclopedia 660). As the Armada began their invasion, they no longer had a safe port. The Dutch and English warships cruised to intercept the Armada fleet. This defect in Spanish strategy was to prove disastrous (The Encyclopedia Britannica). Around midnight on August 7, Lord Howard sent three merchantmen to burn the Spanish fleet.

The merchantmen only had time to burn the cables. The Spanish ships drifted away in panic and the Armadas formation was completely broken. The Spanish regrouped but ran out of ammunition (Academic American Encyclopedia 151). One ship was severely damaged while the others were barely harmed. The English attacked again on August 8 before the Spanish ship could regroup. The battle went on for 8 hours straight, and three Spanish ships were sunk while the others were badly battered.

During all the battles, the wind speed and waves had a great effect on the movement of the ships (Martin & Parker 200). On August 12, a storm separated the opposing fleet near the Firth of Forth, a bay on the east shore of Scotland, where Lord Howard gave up his pursuit (Colliers Encyclopedia 660). Recognizing the power of the English fleet, the Spaniards headed back to Spain. The bruised Armada fought off storms and shipwrecks and finally returned to the Spanish Port of Santander, on the Bay of Biscay, five months later (Colliers Encyclopedia 660). Only about 60 ships reached Spain, most of them too damaged to be repaired.

The English lost thousands of men due to disease and casualties in battle. The outcome of the battle made Spain less powerful then before. The defeat of the Spanish Armada saved England form invasion, and the Dutch Republic form extinction (The Encyclopedia Britannica). It marked the turning point between the era of Spanish world domination, and the risk of Britain to the position of international power (Goldman 1). The Armadas action has had historical significance as the first major gun battle under sail, and as the moment from which the gun-armed sailing warship dominated the seas (The Encyclopedia Britannica). The fate of the Armada gave the English more power to someday takeover (Colliers Encyclopedia 660).

The once powerful Spain was now recognized as being defeated. England remained victorious and powerful, gaining the wealth that they once dreamed of (Goldman 1). The Spanish Armada was a fleet organized to take over England. The fleet was thought of being “Invincible,” because the Spaniards thought that it could never be defeated. The English proved the Spaniards and the whole world wrong by defeating the Armada using smart tactics. Spain still was powerful, but now the other countries didnt fear it. The fate of the Armada was said to have marked Spains decline (Academic American Encyclopedia 151).

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