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The Armada Campaign 1588: The Great Enterprise against England (Praeger Illustrated Military History Series)

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In the latter part of the sixteenth century, Spain was the major international power and her leader, King Phillip II, pledged to conquer the Protestant heretics in England. He envisioned a two-pronged attack. He would send his Invincible Armada of 125 ships into the English Channel where it would link up with the Duke of Parma. The Armada would ferry the Duke's soldiers across the straight of Dover and these troops would march on London, seize the Queen, and proceed to conquer the entire country. Over 400 years ...

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Overview

In the latter part of the sixteenth century, Spain was the major international power and her leader, King Phillip II, pledged to conquer the Protestant heretics in England. He envisioned a two-pronged attack. He would send his Invincible Armada of 125 ships into the English Channel where it would link up with the Duke of Parma. The Armada would ferry the Duke's soldiers across the straight of Dover and these troops would march on London, seize the Queen, and proceed to conquer the entire country. Over 400 years have passed since this momentous expedition sailed and failed, but its fascination and significance remain undiminished.

In the late summer of 1588, Philip II's Spanish fleet of 130 ships fought their way up the English Channel, heading for a rendezvous with the Spanish Army waiting for them at Calais. Although the English fleet failed to stop or even seriously damage the Spanish fleet as they sailed along the English coast, they were able to prevent them from linking up with their army. During a bitterly fought series of battles off Calais and Gravelines the Spanish were forced to abandon their amphibious invasion of England, and had no option but to return home to Spain. Forced out into the North Sea by the British, the Spanish were forced, by strong winds, to sail around Britain and Ireland in order to return home. The voyage was a nightmare, severe weather and faulty navigation caused the wrecking of many of the Spanish ships along the British and Irish coasts. This combined with the lack of supplies caused King Philip to lose around a third of his fleet and half his men, thus forcing him to abandon all hopes of crushing the reformation. This detailed account of the battles fought gives an insight into why the Armada failed. The many questions surrounding the campaign are addressed. Just how dangerous was the Spanish threat? Were the English really superior in ships and gunnery? And what would have happened if the Spanish had succeeded?

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ANGUS KONSTAM
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