The design of the Spaniards was that the armada should give them, at least for a time, the command of the sea.
Continuing Defeat of the Spanish Armada,
our selection from The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: from Marathon to Waterloo by Edward Creasy published in 1851. The selection is presented in nine easy 5 minute installments. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Previously in Defeat of the Spanish Armada.
Place: English Channel
[Stowe continues – jl]
The galliasses were of such bignesse that they contained within them chambers, chapels, turrets, pulpits, and other commodities of great houses. The galliasses were rowed with great oares, there being in eche one of them 300 slaves for the same purpose, and were able to do great service with the force of their ordinance. All these, together with the residue aforenamed, were furnished and beautified with trumpets, streamers, banners, warlike ensignes, and other such like ornaments.
“Their pieces of brazen ordinance were 1600, and of yron a 1000.
“The bullets thereto belonging were 120,000.
“Item of gun-poulder, 5600 quintals; of matche, 1200 quintals; of muskets and kaleivers, 7000; of haleberts and partisans, 10,000.
“Moreover, they had great stores of canons, double-canons, culverings and field-pieces for land services.
“Likewise they were provided of all instruments necessary on land to conveigh and transport their furniture from place to place, as namely of carts, wheeles, wagons, etc. Also they had spades, mattocks, and baskets to set pioners on worke. They had in like sort great store of mules and horses, and whatsoever else was requisite for a land armie. They were so well stored of biscuit, that for the space of halfe a yeere they might allow eche person in the whole fleete halfe a quintall every moneth, whereof the whole summe amounteth unto an hundreth thousand quintals.
“Likewise of wine they had 147,000 pipes, sufficient also for halfe a yeere’s expedition. Of bacon, 6500 quintals. Of cheese, 3000 quintals. Besides fish, rise, beanes, pease, oile, vinegar, etc.
“Moreover, they had 12,000 pipes of fresh water, and all other necessary provision, as namely candles, lanternes, lampes, sailes, hempe, oxe-hides, and lead to stop holes that should be made with the battery of gunshot. To be short, they brought all things expedient, either for a fleete by sea, or for an armie by land.
“This navie — as Diego Pimentelli afterward confessed — was esteemed by the King himselfe to containe 32,000 persons, and to cost him every day 30,000 ducates.
“There were in the said navie five terzaes of Spaniards — which terzaes the Frenchmen call regiments — under the command of five governours, termed by the Spaniards masters of the field, and among the rest there were many olde and expert souldiers chosen out of the garisons of Sicilie, Naples, and Teresera. Their captaines or colonels were Diego Pimentelli, Don Francisco de Toledo, Don Alonso de Luaon, Don Nicolas de Isla, Don Augustin de Mexia, who had eche of them thirty-two companies under their conduct. Besides the which companies, there were many bands also of Castilians and Portugals, every one of which had their peculiar governours, captaines, officers, colors, and weapons.”
While this huge armament was making ready in the southern ports of the Spanish dominions, the Duke of Parma, with almost incredible toil and skill, collected a squadron of war-ships at Dunkirk, and a large flotilla of other ships and of flat-bottomed boats for the transport to England of the picked troops which were designed to be the main instruments in subduing England. The design of the Spaniards was that the armada should give them, at least for a time, the command of the sea, and that it should join the squadron that Parma had collected off Calais. Then, escorted by an overpowering naval force, Parma and his army were to embark in their flotilla, and cross the sea to England, where they were to be landed, together with the troops which the armada brought from the ports of Spain. The scheme was not dissimilar to one formed against England a little more than two centuries afterward. As Napoleon, in 1805, waited with his army and flotilla at Boulogne, looking for Villeneuve to drive away the English cruisers and secure him a passage across the Channel, so Parma, in 1588, waited for Medina Sidonia to drive away the Dutch and English squadrons that watched his flotilla, and to enable his veterans to cross the sea to the land that they were to conquer. Thanks to Providence, in each case England’s enemy waited in vain!
Although the numbers of sail which the Queen’s government and the patriotic zeal of volunteers had collected for the defense of England exceeded the number of sail in the Spanish fleet, the English ships were, collectively, far inferior in size to their adversaries’, their aggregate tonnage being less by half than that of the enemy. In the number of guns and weight of metal the disproportion was still greater. The English admiral was also obliged to subdivide his force; and Lord Henry Seymour, with forty of the best Dutch and English ships, was employed in blockading the hostile ports in Flanders, and in preventing the Duke of Parma from coming out of Dunkirk.
The Invincible Armada, as the Spaniards in the pride of their hearts named it, set sail from the Tagus on May 29th, but near Corunna met with a tempest that drove it into port with severe loss. It was the report of the damage done to the enemy by this storm which had caused the English Court to suppose that there would be no invasion that year. But, as already mentioned, the English admiral had sailed to Corunna, and learned the real state of the case, whence he had returned with his ships to Plymouth.
The armada sailed again from Corunna on July 12th. The orders of King Philip to the Duke of Medina Sidonia were that he should, on entering the Channel, keep near the French coast, and, if attacked by the English ships, avoid an action and steer on to Calais roads, where the Prince of Parma’s squadron was to join him. The hope of surprising and destroying the English fleet in Plymouth led the Spanish admiral to deviate from these orders and to stand across to the English shore; but, on finding that Lord Howard was coming out to meet him, he resumed the original plan, and determined to bend his way steadily toward Calais and Dunkirk, and to keep merely on the defensive against such squadrons of the English as might come up with him.
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