Francis Drake

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Drake, Francis


Born circa 1540, in Tavistock, Devonshire County; died Jan. 28, 1596, near Porto Bello, Panama. English navigator, one of “Queen Elizabeth’s pirates,” vice admiral (1588).

Drake was prominent in the English-Spanish struggle for the colonies in the 16th century. In 1567 he participated in J. Hawkins’ naval expedition, undertaken to capture the ships of Spanish slavetraders and to pillage the Spanish possessions in the West Indies. Later he made other piratical expeditions to the West Indies. In 1577, Drake sailed from Plymouth with a squadron of five ships to pillage the Pacific coast of the American possessions of Spain. He sailed through the Magellan Strait, explored the western shores of North America as far as 48° N lat., crossed the Pacific Ocean, sailed past the Molucca Islands, and returned to Plymouth in 1580 with enormous spoils. This was the second trip around the world after Magellan’s. In 1587, Drake made a surprise raid on Cadiz and destroyed the ships that were being prepared for the attack of the “invincible” Armada on England. Next year he was the actual commander of the English fleet during the rout of the Armada. Drake died during one of his plundering expeditions, undertaken in 1595.

The strait connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans between Tierra del Fuego and the South Shetland Islands has been named after Drake.


Magidovich, I. P. Ocherki po istorii geograficheskikh otkrytii. Moscow, 1967.
Benson, E. F. Sir Francis Drake. London, 1927.
Williamson, J. A. The Age of Drake. London, 1938.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.