Spanish Armada May–September 1588


Map Code: Ax01484

A climax of the struggles between Catholic Spain and Protestant England, the failure of the Spanish Armada changed the course of European history. In response to Sir Francis Drake plundering the Spanish treasure fleet, Elizabeth I’s support of the Dutch and the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, Phillip II planned to invade England and overthrow the queen. The Spanish fleet had been damaged in 1587 after Sir Francis Drake’s attack at Cadiz, and the replacement vessels were of an inferior standard. Moreover, the success of the English fireships in Calais, causing the Armada to cut anchor, combined with the manoeuvrability of the English ships in the North Sea, all contributed to Spanish failure. The strong winds and poor weather played a large helping hand to hamper the invasion attempt and caused damage to the fleet; only half the boats returned to Spain. Spanish dominance was temporarily halted and Elizabeth I enjoyed a period of popularity and strength.

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