The invincible Spanish Armada was crushed. It was the year 1588. One November day, more than 400 years ago, the Englishmen were getting ready to one of the most solemn national festive ceremonies. They gathered near the walls of the St. Paul Cathedral to celebrate their nations’ victory over one of the world’s superstates – Spain. Here Spanish sailors were strung up, their ships being cast ashore on the rocks of Scotland and Ireland.
1588 was a turning point in the history of Naval England. Crushing the Armada made England a glorious naval state. The sea became the country’s new destiny from which its power and wealth would originate. The marine power changed the national culture and self-determination giving rise to democratic values.
The history of the English Navy roots back to a small squadron to reach the glory of a major continental enterprise. It became a basement for the English state service and British economy. This history encompasses not only victories and fame, but also chains of painful defeats and disasters both in the sea and on the land.
The path of England from being a minor European country to becoming a global superpower kicked off 20 years before the Anglo-Spanish War.
It was a sunny autumn day in the town of Plymouth. Sailors were packing their reserves for two ships to go into the sea – not for war, but for commerce. One of the captains was John Hawkins, aged 35. At that time, he was the senior merchant in Plymouth. His cousin and fellow, Francis Drake, aged 28, was the younger captain.
Plymouth opened its natural gates to the Atlantic waters and further to the New World. The way to the New World was as long as 19,000 km, which was a huge distance as for the middle of the XVI century.
One of the investors of that commercial voyage was the Queen. She assigned two ships for the trade expedition. Both vessels were outdated and worn, as most ships in the country’s fleet. The cargo would be living beings – male and female Africans to be shipped from the New to the Old World.
To be continued…