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Queen Elizabeth I


Against the Spanish Armada

Summary Against the Spanish Armada

Philip had other reasons for invading England besides his outrage at Drake's exploits, his fellow Catholic's execution, and the multiple injuries to his pride: by an obscure genealogical path, Philip had some minor claim to the English crown himself. Although he should have known better, he harbored the fantasy that the English Catholics were waiting for him to arrive and liberate them. If he had been a better judge of human nature, he would have realized that the English people would never accept their Spanish foe as a ruler. Philip tried to diminish the English people's anger regarding the invasion by claiming that the attack was not aimed against the people, but at the illegitimate Queen. This was a well-calculated move to get the Catholics on his side, but unfortunately for Philip his army never landed.

Philip blamed the weather (the so-called "Protestant Wind") for his loss, and excused himself with the statement, "I sent the Armada against men, not God's winds and waves." But the weather alone did not bring the English their victory: the English vessels outmaneuvered and outfought the Armada. They won several decisive battles with a naval technique called "broadsiding" that they had newly begun to perfect: this technique involved facing the enemy with the port (left-hand) or starboard (right-hand) side of a ship, rather than facing them head-on; this brought a higher number of guns into action at any one time. Furthermore, popular legend has it that the English ships were smaller than the Spanish, and because of this the ships were more maneuverable. Whether or not they were actually smaller is still debated; however, they were more maneuverable: the English ships were designed lower to the water than the tall galleons, which were meant to be intimidating but which ultimately presented large targets towering out of the waves.

Even as England faced invasion from Catholic Spain's Armada, the large number of Catholics in England remained loyal to Elizabeth. After leading England through 30 years of prosperity, she enjoyed popularity even among her religious opponents.

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