In May 1588 a massive invasion fleet or ‘Armada’ sailed from the port of Lisbon. It was made up of 130 ships fitted with 2,500 guns. They carried 30,000 soldiers and sailors. This great war fleet was bound for England.
Why is the 1588 battle with the Spanish Armada so famous?
The Armada is famous because at that time England was a small nation with a little navy and they were facing the greatest power in the world (Spain). They defeated Spain, with help from Mother Nature. It marked the beginning of England’s mastery of the seas.
The great history of the English navy began, as did serious English exploration and colonization.
Why was the Spanish Armada launched against England?
The Spanish monarch, Philip II, was angry that Queen Elizabeth had not punished Sir Francis Drake and other English seadogs for plundering Spanish ships.
Philip was a devout Catholic. He felt it was his duty to invade and conquer England in order to convert the country back to the Church of Rome.
Where did the Spanish fleet meet the English fleet?
The two fleets met in the English Channel. There were many more Spanish ships than the English ships but the English ships were smaller and easy to maneuver. This would turn out to be a great advantage for the English.
How did Queen Elizabeth I’s fire ships help to defeat the Spanish Armada?
On 6 August 1588, the Spanish Armada anchored at Calais. The English filled eighty ships with flammable material and set fire to them. They sent in fireships to panic the Spaniards and scatter the Armada’s formation. (The Armada’s formation, the famous crescent, had proved extremely successful in previous campaign as it allowed all ships to fire their heavy guns simultaneously.) The Spanish panicked and fled to the open sea, straight into the gunfire of the waiting English.
In the open sea, the Armada wasn’t in formation, so the Spanish ships were easy targets for the English artillery.