The Armada

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The Armada

'The Spanish Armada of 1588 had two chief objectives:  the cessation of English aid to Dutch rebels and French Protestants (led at the time by Henri of Navarre), and halting the attacks of English privateers against Spanish ships. Philip may have also desired to replace Elizabeth with a Catholic ruler in England, and heportrayed himself as the protector of English Catholics, but the feasibility of such a strategy would have been dubious considering the almost complete lack of a suitable successor. Elizabeth had no living siblings, and perhaps the only Catholic replacement for Elizabeth was Mary Queen of Scots, who had been executed the year before.

In any case a "conquest" of England (and annexation to the Spanish Crown) was utterly out of the question. Philip had been unable to suppress a revolt in the  Netherlands, in which Spain had already garrisoned troops, which was already united with Spain under the Hapsburg crown, which the Spaniards could access by land routes, and for which the Spanish king could gain assistance from his Hapsburg cousins in central Europe. Considering the complications posed by England-a larger and more populous country, with no historical linkage to the Hapsburg Crown and no entrenched garrison of Spanish soldiers, any prospect of a Spanish conquest of England was simply a nonstarter. Nevertheless,  a Spanish victory would have dealt a severe blow to the aspirations of Protestant forces on the Continent, and thus both sides prepared for confrontation from 1587.

Philip's plan was to transport to England the professional army of the Duke of Parma- the most intimidating battlefield opponent in Europe at the time. Philip believed that Parma could assemble and ferry his force to England  with the assistance of an escort and for this purpose he conceived the Spanish Armada, a force of nearly 130 ships and almost 30,000 soldiers, to be led by the Duke of Medina Sidonia. The Armada was delayed  by Drake's Sack of Cadiz in 1587 and stormy Atlantic weather, but finally in May of 1588, Medina Sidonia's fleet set sail from Lisbon.

The Spanish were aware of the possibilities of the Armada's failure and the unreliability of the Atlantic weather, and they prepared for adversity by ensuring that major ports in Spain and Portugal could quickly muster food, water, and medical resources for returning sailors. 

 Philip's invasion plan was badly flawed. Philip lacked control of a deep-water port on the northwestern European coastline, and it is questionable whether any single port at the time could have accommodated a fleet of the Armada's magnitude. Moreover, meeting with Parma required


Alistair Mendzil


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