During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I there was a great deal of ill-feeling between England and Spain. The English hated the Spanish because they were Roman Catholics. But the men who were most useful to Elizabeth in fighting against Spain were sailors, and were not very interested in religious matters. They fought against the Spanish in order to obtain money.
At that time Spain had the best ships in the world. These ships were used for trading with the West Indies and South America. The English sailors used to wait for these ships as they returned home full of treasure, and attack and rob them. Naturally the Spanish people were very angry about this, and, whenever they could, they took the English sailors prisoners. They treated their prisoners very cruelly. Sometimes the prisoners were tortured, and sometimes they were starved to death in horrible dungeons.
Every year the hatred between England and Spain grew stronger. The English sailors crossed the Atlantic to South America where there were many Spanish settlements. The English sometimes traded with the settlers, but very often they simply robbed them. The most famous English sailor at that time was a man named Drake. He was very angry because the Spaniards made slaves of the negroes in South America. Therefore he attacked Spain wherever he could, and said that he and his men were serving God when they robbed the Spaniards. He sailed to South America and seized the gold and silver which the Spaniards had found there and intended to take Spain. He said to a Spaniard, 'I am resolved, by the help of God, to reap some of the golden harvest which you have got out of the earth.'
Up to that time Spanish ships had sailed on the Pacific Ocean. WhenDarke was on the Isthmus of Panama some Indian pointed out the waters of the Pacific Ocean to him. Drake immediately prayed to God that he might not die until he had sailed in an English ship on the Pacific Ocean. A few years later Drake's prayer was granted, and he set sail for the Pacific Ocean. The Spaniards did not think it possible that an English ship could be there, and so Drake found it easy to attack and rob the Spanish. He obtained a great deal of treasure and at last captured a large vessel which was full of silver and gold and jewels.
Philip, the Spanish king, sent a message to England demanding that these stolen goods should be returned to Spain. Queen Elizabeth promsised him that the Spaniards should be repaid for all that had been taken from them, but this promise was not kept. Philip therefore determined to attack England and he began to prepare a large fleet.He was determined to put an end to the robbery of the Spanish treasures, and he hoped to defeat England entirly and make it into a Roman Catholic country. Just as the Spanish fleet was ready to advance against England, Drake sailed over to Spain, and burned mayn of the Spanish ships. Drake said that he had 'singed the King of Spain's beard'. The loss to Spain was so great that Philip had to postpone the attack on England until the next year.
However the Spanish fleet was able to set out at last. The Spaniards were so sure that they would be victorious, that they called their fleet 'The Invincible Armada'. 'Armada' is a Spanish word and is the name given by the Spaniards to a fleet that is used for fighting. The Spaniards had some excuse for thinking that they were sure to be victorious. Their ships were larger than the English ones, and their soldiers were much better than the English soldiers. On the other hand the English ships could move very quickly and were built in such a way that they could carry a great many cannon, so that the English might perhaps be victorious, if they could keep at a distance from the Spanish ships and use their cannon against them.
When the Spanish ships were first seen sailing along the English Clannel, Drake was playing bowls on some level ground near Plymouth. He refused to leave off playing, saying that he had plenty of time to finish the game and to beat the Spaniards too. A south-west wind was blowing and Drake waited until the Spanish ships had been driven some distance up the Channel. Then the English ships set out in pursuit and with their cannon destroyed a number of the Spanish vessels. The Spaniards took refuge in Calais harbour but the English drove them out, and again destroyed a number of the Spanish vessels with their cannon. The wind became stronger until at last a storm was raging. The Spanish ships were driven northwards and many of them were wrecked. The fleet was driven round the north of Scotland and the west of Ireland. 'The Invincible Armada' had consisted of more than a hundred and twenty vessels. Only fifty-four of these returned. The rest were destroyed either by the English cannon or by the storm. Philip was obliged to give up all hopes of conquering England. Queen Elizabeth ordered a medal to be struck bearing the words: 'God blew with his wind and they were scattered.'

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Drake gives a report of the fight with the Armada.

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