Last time we discussed the changing political environment in the sixteenth century in England as the nation went through Henry the eighth and into Elizabeth the first we spent a lot of time discussing how especially during the reign of Elisabeth pressures from a changing religious landscape posed a constant rest to the English monarchy which finally boils over into war in 1585 between Spain and England this week we’re going to look at that war specifically in regards to the most famous battle of the Anglo Spanish war the defeat of the Spanish Armada. We’re gonna look at the events that led to the English Spanish war a conflict that would last for nearly 20 years before finally ending in 1604. We’re going to talk about the major players in the war and what objectives they had. We are finally going to look at the details of the Spanish Armada and discuss how did the English score such a key victory.
Trap up this week I’m gonna take some time to discuss the importance of that English and victory. Now I had originally planned for this episode to be a supplement outside the main narrative of the show however once I got going on the topic I decided that this battle does deserve its place in our story I understand it is going to give you a more complete picture of the scene on the eve of the first colonies thank the into the English Spanish working just 3 years before the settlement of Jamestown the defeat of the Spanish Armada just 19 years before that. For the first settlers this war was a current event it’s not history for them.
And the relationship between the Spanish and English fans are going to be so important when we look at the situation in North America at the beginning of the English colonial period and we’re gonna see that reflected as the first English colony sets up with a Spanish threat in mind the defeat of the Spanish Armada today is portrayed as a legendary battle the story is one of how a scrappy underdog English army defeated the mighty Spanish navy which was sailing the most sophisticated armada in history to that point.
The effects of the victory have been listed as the reason for the decline of the Spanish empire the rise of the English empire and it’s often portrayed as the reason that the English were able to establish colonies in the Americas. How much of this is a reality versus English propaganda that. In so many ways the victory over the Spanish Armada is viewed in the same light as the people in the United States view the victory in the revolution. A huge victory under impossible odds. Where the odds however really that impossible for the English plus what was the effect of that victory. Well the subject also choose the huge naval victory it is far less than that the English would end up sending an armada of their own to Spain following the defeat and in that case the Spanish repulsed the English at the end of the day the Anglo Spanish war ended in a deadlock we’re gonna talk about the ultimate importance of the English victory both in the battle and the outcome of the war itself. We’re going to begin today by looking at the causes of the war.
And we’re looking at this because of the English Spanish where there are 3 primary points of contention that deserve our attention the most these causes are religion English privateering and the English involvement with the Dutch rebels in the Netherlands.
We’ll begin by looking at the religious conflict between the English and the Spanish we discussed at our last episode the tension between Philip the second in England following the death of merry the first and especially when it became clear that Elizabeth was not going to agree to a marriage with Philip. Philip continued to push for the English crown returned to the Catholic Church something that the Protestant Elisabeth continue to resist. From the point of view of the Spanish at least publicly religion was the primary reason for the conflict pope sexist the fifth allowed the Spanish Armada to be viewed as a crusade which opened up additional funding for it. It was the pope who gave Philip the second the people authority to overthrow Elizabeth in the first place.
And beyond that the pope offered the man going on the armada and indulgence indulgence was a grant by the church that would reduce punishment for certain types of sin I’ll discuss the use of indulgences much more next time we take a look at the religious scene in Europe in the sixteenth century for the Spanish it was critical that this not be seen as a war of conquest but rather a ward in the ongoing here see in England.
The Spanish and hope that the English Catholics would rise up and join in the fight something that will never happen if the English Catholics felt that they were in the middle of the Spanish conquest.
And remember in 1570 pie is the fifth had excommunicated Elizabeth. In the eyes of the Spanish the war was just they were fighting for the rights of Catholics in England who were under the rule of radical queen it was a crusade to return the rule of god back to England and dispose of Elisabeth and more importantly her Protestant rule once and for all beyond the stated religious reasons for the conflict there was also the issue of English privateering.
It is an act whereby a merchant ship acts under a letter of marque which gives that person the ability to act as though they are at war on behalf of the monarch the privateer is allowed to attack 4 inches and even capture them as the spoils of war. Have a tear really is walking a very fine line between being a mercenary and a pirate.
In this era there is no privateer more famous that Sir Francis Drake. Francis Drake was born in Devon England in the early 15 forties Drake will begin his career is seen 1560 traveling with Sir John Hawkins to the Americans for the first time in 1563
Breaking Hawkins would attack the Portuguese settlements in Africa after their slaves and with sail to the Americans to sell the capture slaves to the Spanish it was on his third trip to the Americans that this activity nearly got killed when Spanish ships attacked though he survived possibly by sue me for his life Drake will always hold a grudge against the Spanish for the defeat.
Threat is freer Drake was a constant problem for the Spanish no need to Spanish as L. Drake Hey or the Drake Francis Drake made a career of raiding Spanish ships and stealing gold and silver and other goods now if this sounds a whole lot like piracy that’s because that’s basically what this is the Spanish view Drake as a pirate and he had a very hefty sum on his head the English on the other hand viewed him as a hero in 1581 Elizabeth knighted Francis Drake to the Spanish drinking the English privateers posed a real threat to the economic interest of Spain.
Drake with cement his legacy during the Spanish Armada as one of the primary leaders of the great battle what religion was the publicly stated because of the war M. privateering was the economic reason the English involvement in the Netherlands with the political impetus for the conflict. Bane had long been dealing with revolt in the Netherlands an area that was then controlled by the ruling family Spain the Spanish Habsburgs the revolt began in the middle of the 15 sixties this revolt was led by the Protestant forces in the Netherlands against the Catholic rulers.
This was the conflict that Elisabeth had long tried to keep England I would have never come from our last episode that Philippine 1584 had agreed to fight at the Catholic League in France.
This represented a serious problem for Elisabeth as an alliance between the French and the Spanish with a nightmare situation for her. With all the existing religious strife in England the last thing she would want to have happen is for the Spanish and the French to form an alliance that would openly oppose her.
Elizabeth reacted by agreeing to the treaty of non such which Allah the English with the Dutch rebels this alliance the several things for Elizabeth the English continued fuel pressure from threats and pressure from the Spanish to restore the church in England and Spain had long been trying to get Elizabeth off the throne you’ll remember all the things we talked about last week about Mary.
Well remember that filled the second was connected to the Ridolfi plan years before and he made no secret of his desire to remove Elisabeth and return the English people to the church.
From a practical standpoint Elizabeth had good reason to support the Dutch in the revolt it was something that would tie up Spanish resources and help her limit their ability to attack England. Have the Spanish managed to regain control of the Netherlands it’s not difficult to envision that they would have immediately thereafter turned their sights back on toppling Elisabeth with the resources from that war cleared up they would have a much better chance of doing that. The English involvement in the Netherlands would prove to be the last offer fill up and will prove to be the ultimate because of the Anglo Spanish war.
The most famous battle by far of the Anglo Spanish war in the one that we’re going to focus on for the rest of today is the defeat of the Spanish Armada. It is important however to realize that this is only a single battle in a much larger war eagle Spanish war last for nearly 20 years.