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English admiral Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe in 1577-1578, helped defeat the Spanish Armada and was the most renowned seaman of the Elizabethan era.
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Upon arriving off the coast of Argentina, Drake sensed that Doughty was plotting a mutiny and had him arrested. After a brief and possibly illegal trial, Doughty was convicted and beheaded. Drake took full command of the expedition by making all officers responsible only to him.
Francis Drake then led the fleet into the Strait of Magellan to reach the Pacific Ocean. They were soon caught in a storm, and two ships lagged behind. One ship,
commanded by John Wynter, reversed course and returned to England. The other disappeared and was never seen again. Drake remained in his flagship, The Golden Hind, and sailed up the coasts of Chile and Peru, plundering unprotected Spanish merchant ships full of gold and silver. Drake landed off the coast of California, claiming it for Queen Elizabeth. After repairing the ship and replenishing food supplies, he set sail across the Pacific, through the Indian Ocean and around Cape of Good Hope back to England, landing at Plymouth in 1580. Drake had become the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world. The treasure he captured made him a wealthy man, and the Queen knighted him in 1581. Later that year, he was elected to the House of Commons.
Between 1585 and 1586, relations between England and Spain grew worse. Elizabeth unleashed Sir Francis Drake on the Spanish in a series of raids that captured several cities in North and South America, taking treasure and inflicting damage on Spanish morale. These acts prompted Spain’s King Philip II to invade England. He ordered the construction of a vast armada of warships, fully equipped and manned for the task. In a preemptive strike, Drake conducted a raid on the Spanish city of Cadiz, destroying more than 30 ships and thousands of tons of supplies. He laughingly referred to this act as "singeing the king of Spain’s beard."
In 1588, Sir Francis Drake was appointed vice admiral of the English Navy, under Lord Charles Howard. On July 21, 130 ships of the Spanish Armada entered the English Channel in a crescent formation. The English fleet sailed out to meet them. For several days, the English fleet used its superior speed and maneuverability to harass the Armada with long-range cannon fire. Two Spanish ships were damaged and had to be rescued. Drake was able to capture one of the Spanish ships carrying the payroll for the Spanish Army.
On July 27, Spanish commander Medina Sidonia anchored the Armada off the coast of Calais, France, in hopes of meeting up with Spanish soldiers who would join in the invasion. The next evening, Lord Howard and Sir Francis Drake organized fireships to sail right into the Spanish fleet. They did little damage, but the ensuing panic caused some of the Spanish captains to cut anchor and scatter. The southwesterly wind carried many of the ships into the English Channel, and the English followed in pursuit.
At the Battle of Gravelines, the English began getting the better of the Spaniards. With the Armada formation broken, the lumbering Spanish galleons were easy targets for the English ships, which could quickly move in to fire one or two well-aimed broadsides before scurrying off to safety.
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