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203px-1590 or later Marcus Gheeraerts, Sir Francis Drake Buckland Abbey, Devon

The admiral of the large, but failed fleet, Sir Francis Drake

After the Spanish Armada was soundly vanquished by the Royal Navy of Great Britian in 1588, about half of their 130 ships reached port again. This was by no means a small flotilla and King Philip II, at age 61, was building 12 new galleons. Sir Francis Drake, a favorite of the queen, proposed that he would take a fleet of ships and, with an army, destroy every ship of the armada that had reached port safely. The queen agreed, on the condition Drake would pay for much of the venture. Drake quickly assembled a huge flotilla. The queen herself loaned him 6 of her galleons: Revenge, Dreadnought, Nonpareil, Foresight, Swiftsure and one other whose name is recorded, could it have been the Rainbow or Vanguard, but no, instead the queen loaned out her 250 tons galleon Aid. Drake also assembled 60 merchant ships, 60 Dutch flyboats, (flyboats were fast small craft used for scouting) and a whopping 20 pinnaces. They set sail around May of 1589. Drake was scared of being caught in the Bay of Biscay, where he would be trapped, so he completely bypassed the port of Santander, where 44 ships of the failed armada were anchored. They instead attacked Corina and lost a great deal. While 13 ships of the armada were sunk in the raid, the flotilla lost 4 captains, a few hundred men ,and 3,000 from the flyboats due to galleys, and the fleet was battered badly. The 146 ships sailed for Lisbon and were welcomed badly, On June 30th, Drake took 80 ships but endured some shattering losses. The Earl of Essex, on board the Swiftsure against the queen's wishes, was ordered to return to court, but he did not obey. 9 Spanish galleys attacked 2 of the Merchant vessles. One was sunk, and the other, the William, narrowly escaped. The fleet now realized that they should not sail to the azores. A captain in the fleet, Sir John Norris, left with 20 ships to destroy the treasure fleet, but storms prevented him from doing so and the Revenge almost sank. By the time Drake reached England, he had endured terrible losses. Many men and a total of 30 ships were lost. They did not take much plunder. The mission was a complete failure. Drake was disgraced for six years and did not go out to sea again until 1595.

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