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The Spanish Armada Essay

3038 words - 12 pages

The Spanish Armada

The Spanish Armada, also called the Invincible Armada (infra), and
more correctly La Armada Grande, was a fleet (I) intended to invade
England and to put an end to the long series of English aggressions
against the colonies and possessions of the Spanish Crown; (II) it was
however all but destroyed by a week's fighting and a disastrous
cruise; (III) this led to the gradual decadence of the maritime power
of Spain; (IV) Catholics on the whole supported the Armada, but with
some notable exceptions.


At the commencement of Elizabeth's reign (1558) Philip had been her
best friend. His intercession helped to save her life after Wycliffe's
rebellion (1554). He facilitated her accession, supported her against
the claims of Mary Stuart, and intervened powerfully in her favor to
prevent French aid from being sent to Scotland. When England had
emerged triumphant at the treaty of Edinburgh (1560), Elizabeth sent
him a special mission of thanks, with the Catholic Lord Montague at
its head, to whom she gave a dispensation from the laws of England in
order that he might practice Catholicism during the embassy.

The victory of Protestantism now being complete, greater coolness was
shown. As time went on the Spanish ambassador was treated with
disrespect, his house beset, visitors to his chapel imprisoned;
Spanish ships were robbed with impunity in the Channel. In 1562,
Hawkins forced his way by violence into the forbidden markets of the
West Indies, his trade being chiefly in slaves, whom he had captured
in West Africa. In 1564 and 1567 the same violent measures were
repeated, but the last ended in disaster for him. Meanwhile the
Protestant party in the Netherlands began to rebel in 1566, and was
subsidized by England.

In 1568, a Spanish ship having put into Plymouth with pay for the
whole of the Spanish army in Flanders, the money was seized by the
English government. Here ensued reprisals on both sides, trade was
paralyzed, and war was on the point of breaking out, both on the
occasion of the Northern rising (1569) and at the time of the Ridolfi
conspiracy in 1571. The imprudent Spanish ambassador, Don Gerau
Despes, was then expelled from England, Philip having previously
dismissed from Spain the Spanish ambassador, Dr. Mann, an apostate
priest, whose selection was naturally considered an insult. Whilst the
Spanish fleet was fighting the cause of Christianity against the Turks
at Lepanto (1572), Drake thrice sacked the almost defenseless colonies
on the Spanish Main, from which he returned with enormous booty (1570,
1571, 1572-73).

Slightly better relations between the two countries ensued toward the
close of this decade, when Elizabeth feared that, with the decay of
Spanish power in the Netherlands, France might conquer the...

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