In the summer of 1588 Philip II’s Invincible Armada edged its way slowly down the English Channel towards the Straits of Dover. The fleet consisted of more than 130 ships and 30,000 men, but Philip II of Spain had not sent the Armada to fight the English navy; rather, he had instructed his commander to avoid battle and to ferry the invincible troops of Spain’s Army of Flanders across to England to depose Elizabeth I. However, despite its awesome size the Armada did not succeed in embarking one soldier. It was brought to battle and although not conclusively defeated was forced to find its way home by a tortuous voyage around the north coastline of the British Isles. Few of the great galleons that reached Spain ever sailed again and nearly half the men on board did not survive the dreadful journey.