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.
Failure of the Spanish Armada
Elizabeth I: Speech to the Troops at Tilbury
Related Credo Articles
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...
My loving people, we have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear o
Background Elizabeth I converted England to Protestantism, undoing the changes made by her sister Mary, whose husband was Philip II of Spain. As the