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The Great Armada

The Great Armada (Miscellaneous)

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Tags: sailboat (49 pics)

The Spanish Armada (Spanish: Grande y Felicísima Armada, "Great and Most Fortunate Navy" or Armada Invencible, "Invincible Navy") was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588 (433 years ago), with the intention of overthrowing England's Elizabeth I.

Philip II of Spain had been co-monarch of England until the death of his wife Mary I in 1558 (463 years ago). A devout Roman Catholic, he considered the Protestant Elizabeth a heretic and illegitimate ruler of England. He had supported plots to have her overthrown in favor of her Catholic cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, but Elizabeth had Mary imprisoned, and she was finally executed in 1587 (434 years ago). In addition, Elizabeth, who sought to advance the cause of Protestantism where possible, supported the Dutch Revolt against Spain. In retaliation, Philip planned an expedition to invade and conquer England, thereby suppressing support for the United Provinces— that part of the Low Countries not under Spanish domination — and cutting off attacks by the English against Spanish possessions in the New World and against the Atlantic treasure fleets. The king was supported by Pope Sixtus V, who treated the invasion as a crusade, with the promise of a further subsidy should the Armada make land.

The Armada's appointed commander was the highly experienced Álvaro de Bazán, but he died in Feb. 1588 (433 years ago), and Medina Sidonia took his place. The fleet set out with 22 warships of the Spanish Royal Navy and 108 converted merchant vessels, with the intention of sailing through the English Channel to anchor off the coast of Flanders, where the Duke of Parma's army of tercios would stand ready for an invasion of the south-east of England.

The Armada achieved its first goal and anchored outside Gravelines, at the coastal border area between France and the Spanish Netherlands. While awaiting communications from Parma's army, it was driven from its anchorage by an English fire ship attack, and in the ensuing battle at Gravelines the Spanish were forced to abandon their rendezvous with Parma's army.

The Armada managed to regroup and withdraw north, with the English fleet harrying it for some distance up the east coast of England. A return voyage to Spain was plotted, and the fleet sailed into the Atlantic, past Ireland. But severe storms disrupted the fleet's course, and more than 24 vessels were wrecked on the north and western coasts of Ireland, with the survivors having to seek refuge in Scotland. Edinger (2001, 20 years ago) states that the Spanish Armada was sunk primarily by shipworms. Of the fleet's initial complement, about 50 vessels failed to make it back to Spain. The expedition was the largest engagement of the undeclared Anglo–Spanish War (1585–1604).

The defeat of the Spanish Armada led to the Drake–Norris Expedition of 1589 (432 years ago), also known as the English Armada against Spanish possessions in the New World and against the Atlantic treasure fleets.


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