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Spanish Armada Facts



The Spanish Armada was the name given to the fleet of vessels sent by Spain to invade England in 1588. The Armada had been sent by King Philip II of Spain, a Catholic who wanted to remove the Protestant Elizabeth from the throne and convert England back to the old religion.

Facts About the Spanish Armada

The Armada set sail from Spain in July 1588, reaching the English Channel in August of that year. Philip had at one time been married to Elizabeth's sister Mary, and he had wanted to convert everyone that had turned to the new religion back to Catholicism using some very unscrupulous means including torture.

Philip was also angry with the English sea heroes of the time such as Sir Frances Drake, as his ships filled with silver were regularly being targeted by Drake, costing Philip dearly. The Spanish viewed Drake as a pirate, while to the English he was a national hero. Philip could not accept that the Elizabeth knew what he was doing and allowed him to carry on attacking Spanish cargo ships.

Spanish Armada What Happened?

For Philip the Armada was a mistake that would cost him severely. There were many problems placed in his path, some occurring even before the ships set sail. Sir Frances Drake launched an attack on vessels that were being prepared to join the Spanish fleet while they were docked at Cadiz harbour. He destroyed some of the ships, leaving many more too damaged to sail as part of the armada force. The supplies that had been ordered for the Spanish vessels had not been stored properly and turned rotten en route to England, it also made the water undrinkable.

The armada was unable to pick up the soldiers it had intended to in the Spanish Netherlands, as they could find no place to dock. Philip had also made a poor choice in the man he selected to lead the invasion of the armada. The job was given to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, a celebrated general. However, he had never been to sea. A man who had never sailed and suffered from severe seasickness was placed in charge of the largest naval fleet of the time.

A Failed Invasion by the Spanish Armada

The final drawback in the plan to invade England and overthrow the queen was the fact that the armada had failed to remain hidden, and the element of surprise had been lost. Philip, intending the people to quake with fear at the sight of such a large naval force off the coast did not get the reaction that he wanted. Instead, eight old ships of the English fleet were loaded up with anything that could be set alight.

Known as the 'Hell Burners' the ships were set alight and allowed to drift into the English Channel at night, in the direction of the Spanish fleet. The Spanish ships were filled with gunpowder so if they caught alight there would be nothing the crew could do. In the cold light of day the remaining vessels were attacked and the Spanish ships were outnumbered ten to one.


   
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