In August of 1588, a Spanish fleet of 130 ships departed from La Coruña under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia. Its purpose was to rendezvous with the Spanish army at the Dutch port of Sluys. At this point, the fleet was to act as a screen while the Spanish army was shuttled across the English Channel in barges. Upon landing, the Spanish invasion force - the finest professional army in the world led by the finest military commander in Europe - would march to London, seize the crown from Elizabeth, avenge the execution of her Catholic Majesty (Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots), and return the English crown to a Catholic ruler.
But there was one problem: the English fleet. Though much smaller than the Spanish fleet, it was a demonstrably superior fighting force of sailors, ships, naval technology, and guns. Its admirals, among them Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins, were unsurpassed. And the Spanish admiralty was acutely aware of this. They hoped to overwhelm the English fleet by sheer weight of numbers, or at least keep it at bay long enough to allow their invincible Spanish army, led by the brilliant Duke of Parma, to be brought over to the English coast from Holland. On paper, it looked like a solid plan. As the Duke of Parma realized, however, the logistic details were going to be formidable. But Philip II of Spain insisted on sticking to a strict timetable for his "enterprise." In order for the Armada to succeed, everything must be timed to perfection, and the tactics had to be flawlessly executed.
The world's first modern naval engagement was in the making, and neither side had the foggiest idea how to fight such a battle. There were four principal nations involved in the great struggle: England, Spain, France, and the Netherlands. As events unfolded, each of these participants were to play crucial roles, some from behind the scenes. In the end, it became a logistics nightmare for both sides...and it was to change naval warfare forever.
Discover the marvelous heroism and endurance of Spaniard and Englishman. And discover the incredible narrative power of Garrett Mattingly's dramatic, Pulitzer Prize-winning history, The Armada.
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