The Spanish Armada

The pre-eminent figure of the struggle by sea which culminated in the defeat of the Spanish Armada was Francis Drake–0r Sir Francis,

as he was known after Queen Elizabeth knighted him on the decks of his world-girdling Golden Hind in 1581.

Picking up a sword, Elizabeth told all present-and they were a multitude-that King Philip had demanded Francis Drake’s head.

The sword was then used to dub him Sir Francis, in a gesture that made the sailing of the Armada seven years later practically inevitable.

To most peoples of the Western world today, and to the English, the sea-girt Hollanders and the landbound Bohemians at the time,

the struggle against Spanish dominance was to assure the deliverance of a pluralistic, individualistic future for Europe,

THE BooK LOCKER: as opposed to a dogmatically ideological, rigidly administered, totalitarian imperium.

And the means by which the gate was he ld open to that future was the nascent sea power of England.

Drake ‘s role in forging and exercizing that power was well summed up by Juli an S. Corbett in his classic Drake and the Tudor Navy

(Gower Publishing Co. Ltd., Aldershot, UK & Brookfield, VT, 1898 repr. 1988).

“The English,” he said, “had invented a new art; they had created a new machine to put it into execution;

by hard and long service in the open sea they had trained hands to work it;

THE BooK LOCKER: and over all , to direct its untried energy there had arisen a master spirit of the highest order.”

Reissued recently with a percipient new introduction by R. B. Wemham,

Corbett’s work remains the standard account of the era in which England embarked on

the long sea road that delivered what we call today the free world through all subsequent perils.

Kaiser Wilhelm H’s sabre rattling had begun when Corbett wrote, and the shadows of the war that would end the century-long

Pax Britanni ca lengthened as he went on to complete his work on British naval policy in The Successors of Drake, England in the Mediterranean,

The Trafalgar Campaign and Some Principles of Maritime Strategy which, published in 1911 , did not create much of a stir at the time.

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