The Spanish Armada

The Spanish Armada was a fleet of armed ships that attempted to invade England in the year of 1588. This Spanish Fleet had at one time been called the Invincible Armada, supposedly because the Spaniards thought it could not be defeated (World book Multimedia Encyclopedia). The Spanish Fleet consisted of over 130 ships and more than 29,000 men, most were soldiers. Many of the ships were low in weapons and experienced soldiers that could work these weapons, others were low in ammunition. King Phillip named the Duke of Medina Sidonia to command the Armada. During the 1500's the Spanish were thought to have had a dominating Navy until in 1588, when they were defeated by the English.

The English received word of the Spanish's activities and armed many of its merchant vessels and added them to its warships. England's fleet was made up of about 197 ships and nearly 16,000 men, these men were mostly sailors rather than soldiers. Admiral Lord Howard of Effingham commanded the fleet and his squadron leaders were Francis Drake, John Hawkins and Martin Frobisher. Francis Drake and John Hawkins were ordered many times to raid Spanish villages and ships to acquire more riches.

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The Spanish Armada left Lisbon, Portugal on May 30, 1588 and arrived at the English Channel on July 20. The ships were constantly battling for seven days straight. There were long-range duels and soldiers were sent to burn the enemy ships and destroy their weapons. On July 27, the Armada anchored at Calais, France. The Duke of Medina Sidonia had planned to meet barges carrying Spanish Troops from nearby Dunkerque, a port in the Netherlands (World book Multimedia Encyclopedia). Unfortunately, Dutch gunboats prevented the barges from meeting the Armada. This act doomed the fleet to failure (World book Multimedia Encyclopedia).

Early in the hours of July 29, the English sent eight vessels that were packed with gunpowder and were set on fire, and they were directed towards the Armada. The Spanish were barely able to flee from the burning ships. Later that morning, the English sent 60 or so warships to attack an equal number of Spanish Galleons. The English sank two Spanish ships and damaged others severely. The crippled Armada fled to the North Sea, then returned to Spain by sailing north around the British Isles. Heavy winds wrecked many of ships off Ireland's coast, and only 67 out of the 130 reached Spain.

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There were many deaths at the battle between the England and Spain, but the exact number is confirmed. Some deaths were from drowning, disease, but most were just from the casualties of war. The Spanish lost nearly half its fleet, during the battles with the English. Things got even worse after the battles.

Spain even though they did not officially lose the battles, their country was in economic trouble. There were so many controversial issues, going on after the war, that the country just fell apart and England became a major power in Europe. Spain was very confident going into the battles and they came out the losers and that hurt them considerably. The battles contributed to the slow decline of the Spanish economy, production, and social well-being. It was becoming evident that the Spanish were not as powerful as they once were. There were revolts against the Government of Spain, lootings in villages and towns and their were several civil wars.

Spain, today, is still a fairly popular country but not as nearly powerful and prosperous as they once were. The Spanish Armada's invasion on the English Channel in 1588 is and always will remain one of the most popular naval battles in history.