The Spanish Armada

The naval and military force sent by Spain to invade England, 1588. Philip II had grievances against England in the buccaneering voyages of Drake and other privateers and in the subsidizing of the Protestants in the Netherlands. Spain, however, was unwise to attempt to prohibit all traffic to her colonies; and the cruelties of Alva in the Netherlands embittered the struggle. After long delay the Armada left Lisbon, 20 May. It consisted of 130 ships, at least half of which were transports, and 30,493 men, two-thirds of whom were soldiers. The commander was the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who had no experience in naval matters. In the first engagement the English proved to be superior in guns and naval tactics. In the battle off Gravelines the Spanish were entirely defeated. The retreat around the north of Ireland caused a loss of half the fleet and three-quarters of the men. The sympathies of Catholics outside England were with the Armada. Pope Sixtus V promised a large subsidy when they should land in England, and also to renew the excommunication of Elizabeth. On account of Spain's slowness, he did neither. In England, however, the Catholics, with few exceptions, fought against the Spanish invaders.

New Catholic Dictionary

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