The Battle of the Azores 1582–83


Map Code: Ax01483

The Azores was one of the last parts of the Portuguese overseas empire to resist the Spanish king, Phillip II. António, Prior of Crato, an exiled claimant to the Portuguese throne, secured support from the English and French to sail a fleet to the islands. Under the command of Filippo Strozzi, they aimed to seize São Miguel and protect the other islands from the Spanish. The enemy fleet set sail from Cadiz, under the Marqués de Santa Cruz. The Spanish won the ensuing clash, and many French soldiers and sailors, including Strozzi, died or were executed as pirates. Terceira had still not surrendered to the Spanish, so in 1583 the French went back. The Spanish also returned and, following an amphibious attack, took the island. Spain finally had command of the Atlantic triangle and control over the strategically positioned archipelago, securing safe passage of treasure ships between Europe and South America. In 1591, the English fought a desperate action against the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Flores, part of the Anglo-Spanish Wars, ultimately surrendering after causing considerable damage.

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