Sir Francés Drake
Sir Frances Drake
Between 1585 and 1586, relations between England and Spain grew worse. Elizabeth unleashed 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 were part of what prompted Spain’s Philip II to invade England. He ordered the construction of a vast armada of warships, fully equipped and manned. 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.
Final Expeditions and Death
Drake returned home, and for the next several years busied himself with duties as mayor of Plymouth.
In 1595, the queen once again called upon Drake. He and his cousin Hawkins were to capture Spain's treasure supply in Panama, in hopes of cutting off revenue and ending the war. After defeat at Nombre de Dios, Drake's fleet moved farther west and anchored off the coast of Portobelo, Panama. There, Drake contracted dysentery and on January 28, 1596, died of a fever. He was buried in a lead coffin at sea near Portobelo. Divers continue to search for the coffin.