England vs Spain

By: David Li & Joshua Meek

Years- 1553-1603


Once tension started to rapidly increase between Spain and England, preparations on both sides of the war took place with Spain cultivating a daunting fleet of ships called the Spanish Armada, and England, knowing Spain was probably going to attack, got ready to defend themselves. Sir Francis Drake thwarted the attack of the Spanish in 1587 by wreaking havoc on a seaport of Spain which pushed back the attack of the Spanish to 1588. In May of 1588, The Spanish Armada, led by the Duke of Medina-Sidonia and consisting of 130 ships and around 25,000 men attacked the southern coast of England. Once the Armada was spotted by the English, beacons were lit that spread the news like wildfire. The Spanish were fended off by the British Navy led by Sir Francis Drake and Lord Charles Howard, and the English became victorious over the mighty Armada, with the Spaniards going back to Spain defeated.


Tensions rose between England and Spain due to religious differences and privateering. England was mainly Protestant while Spain was largely Catholic, and Queen Elizabeth secretly aided in the Dutch Revolt against Philip II of Spain. Furthermore, English privateers, most notably Sir Francis Drake, attacked Spanish ships and robbed them. Queen Elizabeth supported the acts of piracy against the Spanish. All of this ultimately culminated in the Spanish invasion of England with the Armada.


  1. On 1587, Sir Francis Drake wreaked havoc on the Spanish and delayed their attack by attacking a Spanish seaport.
  2. The Spanish work on creating a massive fleet of ships called the Spanish Armada and work on their attack strategy while Queen Elizabeth gets her defense ready for the attack.
  3. May 1588: The Spanish Armada consisting of 130 ships with 25,000 men attacks England.
  4. The English were ready for the attack and once they saw the fleet, the English lit beacons that spread the news like wildfire.
  5. Queen Elizabeth I left her palace and went out to her soldiers to inspire them with her famous speech.
  6. England utilizes long-range guns and releases ships on fire that cause the Spanish to freak out and get discombobulated in fear of having the fleet light on fire.
  7. The Spanish are fended off and rapidly deteriorate due to the English effort, skill, and capabilities, and the weather.
  8. The Armada leaves and the Spanish have to go by Scotland in order to go home.
  9. England gets the victory.

Key Figures/Groups

Protestants- England became protestant after King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church to form his own denomination.

Catholics- Supported Catherine of Aragon and Mary 1, who was a Spanish Catholic

Henry VIII- Founded his own denomination “The Church of England” in order to marry multiple times to produce a male heir.

Edward VI- Son of King Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, became king at the age of 9. Protestantism expanded under his rule, and he died at the age of 16 due to sickness.

Mary I (Bloody Mary)- Daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, killed Lady Jane Grey to take the throne. Killed Protestants and tried to revert England to Catholicism.

Elizabeth I- Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, considered one of England’s greatest rulers because she defeated the Spanish Armada.

Lady Jane Grey- Proclaimed queen of England by Edward VI, but was eventually overthrown by Mary I, who also proclaimed herself as queen.

James I- Also known as James IV of Scotland, he became King of England after Elizabeth I’s death. He authorized the writing of the King James Version of the Bible. He was a Catholic

Sir Francis Drake- Sir Francis Drake thwarted the attack of the Spanish in 1587 by wreaking havoc on a seaport of Spain which pushed back the attack of the Spanish to 1588. He was was in charge of the navy with Lord Charles Howard.

Lord Charles Howard- Leader of the navy with Sir Francis Drake.

Duke of Medina-Sidonia- The man in charge of the Spanish Armada.


The English defended their country and defeated the esteemed and intimidating Spanish Armada. England was planning for the attack, and once the attack happened, the English, with the weather in their favor, became victorious over the Spanish. 15,000 men died on the Spanish side and the Armada was cut in half.

Main Significance

The victory of the Spanish Armada led England to become a world power in England. Spain was originally one of the strongest nations in Europe, but following the war they lost much of their influence. The battle also introduced effective long-range weapons into naval warfare for the first time, and ended the era of boarding and close-quarter fighting.

Queen Elizabeth's Speech to Troops

"I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too... We shall shortly have a famous victory over the enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people."

-Queen Elizabeth I, 1588

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