Spanish Armada


England's Pirates Capture Spanish Ships

Approx. 1560

Between the 1560's and 1580's many Spanish treasure ships are captured by English pirates, or "privateers," greatly angering King Philip

Spain invades the Netherlands and England allies with the Dutch


Part of the reason that Spain invaded Holland was to have a port nearby England where they could attack England in case of a war.

King Philip of Spain commissions 130 ships for Armada


The cost of this was astronomical, at 2/3 the country's wealth.

Mary, Queen of Scots, is put to death

February, 1587

Mary, Queen of Scots's grandmother was Elizabeth's father's (Henry VIII) older sister. Since Elizabeth had no children, the monarchy was to pass to Mary, Queen of Scots upon Elizabeth's death. However, Mary was found guilty of trying to overthrow Elizabeth and was therefore executed. Because she was Catholic, and Elizabeth (and England) was Protestant, this greatly angered King Philip of Spain. He also felt he had a legitimate claim to the English throne since he was married to Elizabeth's sister (another Mary, who died years earlier). All of these events angered King Philip.

Drake raids ports in Spain, destroying supplies and delaying Armada preparations

April 1587

Sir Francis Drake of England destroyed and/or captured 35 ships which significantly delayed King Philip's plans

John White leaves Roanoke as Elizabeth mobilizes Naval fleet

December 1587

White returns to England to ask for more ships to help the struggling colony but is refused because all ships are needed to thwart the impending Armada attack.

Armada sets sail for England

May 1588

England hears of the news and is on the watch

Armada anchors near Calais

August 1588

Spain anchors at Calais to wait for reinforcements from the Netherlands before invading England

England sends fire ships into Calais, breaking up the Armada's defensive crescent formation

August 1588

The fire ships were intended to break apart the formation and also ignite the ammunition and gunpowder aboard. The plan worked and the Armada scattered. English ships pursue them and the Armada is driven north of Scotland, and forced to return to Spain.

Storms off of Scotland further damage ships

September 1588

Half the ships are lost and thousands of Spanish soldiers. The English secretary in Ireland said that within a five mile walk along the coast, he counted 1,100 Spanish corpses. All in all, 63 Spanish ships were lost (no English ships were lost except the 8 that they intentionally set on fire as floating bombs) and 20.000 Spanish sailors were killed (only 100 English men were killed). This conflict didn't officially end until 1604 when a treaty was signed between England and France. England agreed to stop pirating ships and get out of the Netherlands conflict and Spain agreed to give up on the idea that England would once again be Catholic.

Second Spanish Armada Attempt


Storms thwarted this attempt and wrecked most of the ships

Third Armada attempt


Storms also wrecked this mission