Spanish Armada: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Spanish Armada.

  • The Spanish Armada was a fleet of ships which fought against England in 1588. The intention of King Phillip II of Spain was to overthrow the Queen of England, Elizabeth I.

  • The planned invasion of England was supported by the Pope who was promised money if Spain won. The Armada was commanded by a Duke, Medina Sidonia, who had no previous sailing experience.
  • The Spanish Armada consisted of 130 ships, including 22 fighting galleons. Some of the ships were merchant ships converted to fighting vessels and the ships sailed in a crescent formation, for defence.
  • The Spanish ships carried about 30,000 soldiers and 2,500 guns. They sailed from Portugal, which was then part of the Spanish Empire, to the English Channel.
  • Between them, the ships of the Armada also carried 14,000 barrels of wine, 11,000 pairs of sandals and 4,990,000 kg of ship’s biscuits. There were 180 priests on board the ships.
  • The English fleet of ships was led by Lord Howard and Sir Francis Drake, who, according to legend, insisted on finishing his game of bowls before setting sail. Drake probably had knowledge of the tides and knew he would have to wait.

Spanish Armada

  • The battle was won by the English, as they had smaller and lighter ships which were easier to maneuver. The English also broke up the Spanish Armada by sailing boats on fire into their formation.
  • Throughout the entire battle, the English lost about 7,000 men. The Spanish lost about 20,000 men and almost half of their ships.
  • Sir Francis Drake became famous and popular after the English victory. The defeat of Spain also meant that the Protestant religion became more widespread throughout Europe.
  • Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir John Hawkins, Richard Hawkins also played important roles in the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
  • Several novels have been written predicting what would have happened had the Spanish won. The Spanish Armada featured in the film Elizabeth, the Golden Age and it was even in an episode of the TV show The Simpsons.

What next? Learn more about Tudor ships or discover more Tudor facts by visiting our Tudor resources page.

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