Armada, The Spanish

Armada, The Spanish

 

(called the Invincible Armada by the Spaniards), a large naval fleet created by Spain in 1586–88 to conquer England during the Anglo-Spanish War of 1587–1604.

The Spanish Armada left Lisbon on May 20 (30), 1588, under the command of Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, Duke of Medina Sidonia, but because of bad weather it was held up at La Coruña and did not leave until July 12 (22). The Spanish fleet (128 ships with 2, 400 guns, more than 8, 000 seamen, and 19, 000 soldiers) consisted of high-sided ships, which were difficult to control. They were designed primarily for battle by boarding (the Spaniards underestimated the importance of artillery in naval battle). The English fleet (197 ships with 6, 500 guns, 12, 000 seamen, and 4, 000 soldiers) was made up of smaller but more maneuverable ships with powerful artillery. From July 21 (31) to July 29 (August 8), in the English Channel, the English fleet commanded by C. Howard and F. Drake attacked the Spanish Armada several times and inflicted significant losses (about 20 ships). The Spanish fleet was forced to go around the British Isles and return to Spain without completing its mission. Along the way, near the Orkney Islands and the coast of Ireland, more than 40 ships were lost in bad weather, and in September 1588 just 65 ships carrying 9, 000–10, 000 men returned to Santander. The loss of the Spanish Armada undermined the naval might of Spain.

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While the British were celebrating the 1588 defeat of the Spanish Armada, the Spanish ships that remained faced the challenge of how to return home.