The Spanish Armada was the brainchild of Spain’s King Philip II and he spent two years preparing the fleet.

Armada-Oval-300x259In 1588 England was an uncomfortable place to live if you were a Catholic and Philip II of Spain wished to help English Catholics, while at the same time King Philip II felt that the English navy was exercising for too much control over the world’s sea-lanes, especially those to the New World, where many of Spain’s colonies were situated. Add to this the religious rivalry between the Catholic Spanish and the Protestant English which was becoming unacceptable and the final straw was that the English were aiding those fighting against the Spanish in the Low Countries (Netherlands and Belgium). King Philip II therefore believed that he had to conquer England.

King Philip II spent two years preparing the fleet. As well as galleons and warships, there were also many troop and cargo ships, as they needed to transport all the men and equipment across the Channel. In total there were more than 130 ships. In addition there were many small ships known as zebras and pataches, which were used to send messages between the larger ships and also as scout ships. The fleet was commanded by the Duke of Medina Sidonia whose plan was to send the armada up the English Channel to dock at either Dunkirk or one of the other Continental seaports facing England. Here he would meet the Duke of Palma, the Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, with an army of 30,000 soldiers. The armada would ferry these troops across the Channel and, once in England, they would march on London and capture the capital. This would force Queen Elizabeth I to surrender.

The plan seemed perfect but what foiled it?

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