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Spanish Armada



The naval expedition fitted out by Philip II of Spain in 1588 against England, commanded by the Duke of Medina Sidonia. It comprised 129 ships, was manned by 8,000 sailors, and carried 19,000 soldiers and more than 2,000 cannon. Against this formidable force Elizabeth I had only 80 ships, manned by 9,000 sailors, under Lord Howard of Effingham, under who served Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher. The British fleet awaited the Armada off Plymouth, and at Tilbury there was a considerable defensive land force under the command of the Earl of Leicester. On July 19 the ships of the Armada were sighted off the Lizard in Cornwall, disposed in a crescent seven miles long from horn to horn. The excellent maneuvering of the English, their fire-ships, and a gale from the northwest combined so effectively to cripple the Spanish ships that the Armada was scattered in confusion, a very small remnant contriving to reach home via the north of Scotland. It was impossible to embark the army of Palma waiting in the Netherlands. Elizabeth had a medal struck bearing in Latin the inscription, "God blew, and they were scattered."