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Background to the Spanish Armada

Lesson Objective: To Investigate the background to the Spanish Armada

  

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Background Information

The Spanish Armada of 1588 was an attempt by Phillip of Spain to conquer England. Phillip, who had been married to Queen Mary, was angry that her sister, Queen Elizabeth had refused his proposal of marriage. he was also very angry that England had returned to protestantism. His anger bubbled out of control as Elizabeth did nothing to stop English sailors plundering the Spanish ships returning from the Americas.

Phillip planned an invasion of England. he would send his Spanish Armada of 131 ships and 17,000 men to France. here his armada would collect a further 16,000 Spanish soldiers who had been fighting in Holland. The fleet was then to cross the English channel and defeat the armies of Queen Elizabeth's England.

The Spanish Armada set off after much preparation and reached the initial destination of Calais in early August of 1588. The English though had seen the Armada coming. Six boats were filled with firewood and set alight. They drifted towards the anchored Spanish Fleet. Upon seeing them the Spaniards panicked and set sail into the English Channel. here they were met by the English Fleet. The Spanish Admirals knew that they had enough men to overpower the English boats and tried to get close enough to board and attack the English ships. Their plan failed though. the English boats were too fast and could keep well away from the Spaniards. More significant was the type of boat that the English Fleet had. Each boat was armed with cannon. These were brought to bear upon the Spanish Fleet with disastrous consequences: the Spaniards were easy targets.

Fearing the destruction of their fleet at the hands of the English guns the fleet set sail into the North sea. They could regroup later and attack elsewhere. The weather though worsened and many of the surviving boats were swept against the rocks of the Scottish and Irish coasts. Less than 10,000 of Phillips men returned home. the Armada had been defeated by a combination of excellent tactics and atrocious weather.

As a result of the Armada England was a much more powerful nation. Elizabeth could be reasonably secure in the knowledge that another invasion was not likely, certainly within the next few years. The Spanish had less ships with which they could protect their trading ships and so English sailors could plunder with greater ease. The failure of the Armada made England a much more powerful nation.
Francis Drake
   1588      allies      Armada      Catholic      Catholics      Elizabeth      enemies      Netherlands      Philip      Protestant      sailors      Scotland      Scots      Spain      Stuart      sympathy   


When Mary I died in 1558, England and Spain were in a war against France. As the war ended, Philip II of Spain wanted to stay on good terms with the new queen, I, and even suggested that they marry but Elizabeth politely refused. However, Elizabeth also wanted to stay friends with because there was an alliance between Scotland and France - a situation which was very dangerous for her. Until Elizabeth married and had children, the next in line for the throne was her relative, Mary , the Queen of Scotland but many believed Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn had not been not lawful which meant Elizabeth should not be queen at all and Mary, Queen of should take over immediately. To matters worse, Mary was going to marry the French prince so it was possible that French and Scottish armies would invade England to make Mary queen. Luckily for Elizabeth, did not want to see France becoming so powerful and he was willing to protect her, even though she made England again.


When Philip had to deal with a rebellion in the it was even more important to him to be on good terms with England because his ships had to sail along the English Channel. However, England felt some with the people in the Netherlands because one of the reasons they were rebelling against Spain was that some of them wanted to be Protestant. On top of this, there was a lot of anger among English and traders because Philip wouldn't let other countries share in the wealth that had been found in the areas Spain controlled in Central and South America. Meanwhile, England was less threatened because Mary, Queen of Scots' husband had died, which ended the link with France and she had returned to . Also, two groups in France were fighting for control, which meant there was far less danger to England.
By the 1580s the 2 countries were clearly and Spain was supporting attempts to make England again. Plans for an invasion began in 1585 but had to be delayed when Francis Drake burned some ships and destroyed lots of water barrels. Drake called this "singeing the King of Spain's beard", (burning the edges) but it wasn't enough to prevent the which was ready to sail in .