Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Spanish Armada from Collins English Dictionary


1 the great fleet sent by Philip II of Spain against England in 1588: defeated in the Channel by the English fleets and almost completely destroyed by storms off the Hebrides Also called: the Armada

Summary Article: Spanish Armada
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Fleet sent by Philip II of Spain against England in 1588. Consisting of 130 ships, it sailed from Lisbon and carried on a running fight up the Channel with the English fleet of 197 small ships under Howard of Effingham and Francis Drake – although only three Spanish ships were lost to the English attack. The Armada anchored off Calais but the Duke of Parma, the leader of the Spanish army, was unwilling to embark until the English fleet was defeated. The English forced the Armada to put to sea by sending in fire ships, and a general action followed off Gravelines, although only four Spanish ships were lost in the battle. What remained of the Armada escaped around the north of Scotland and west of Ireland, losing an estimated 55 ships to storm and shipwreck on the way. Only about half the original fleet returned to Spain.

The Spanish fleet had been hastily prepared – corrupt Spanish traders had supplied unseasoned barrels and poor-quality equipment. The commander, the Duke of Medina Sidonia, lacked naval experience, and the fleet was a motley collection of warships, armed merchantmen, and oared galleys. The English ships were longer and narrower and, therefore, more manoeuvrable than the Spanish ships. They were also better gunned than the Spanish, although they lacked the ammunition to inflict decisive damage in battle. What really defeated the Spanish Armada was the weather.


The Armada

Failure of the Spanish Armada


Elizabeth I: Speech to the Troops at Tilbury



© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles

Full text Article Spanish Armada
The Encyclopaedia of the Renaissance

The fleet sent by Philip II of Spain to invade England (1588). The 130 ships and 27 000 men under the inexperienced command of the duke of...

Full text Article Drake, Sir Francis c.1540-1596
Chambers Dictionary of Great Quotations

Elizabethan seaman, the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world. In 1585 he sailed on a successful expedition to the Spanish Indies. He comman

Full text Article Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604)
Wars That Changed History: 50 of the World's Greatest Conflicts

Dates 1585–1604 Location England, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Atlantic Ocean, English Channel, Caribbean, Ireland Combatants England vs.

See more from Credo