In Search of a Kingdom: Francis Drake, Elizabeth I, and the Perilous Birth of the British Empire

In Search of a Kingdom: Francis Drake, Elizabeth I, and the Perilous Birth of the British Empire

by Laurence Bergreen


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“FASCINATING . . . Dramatic and timely.” —New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice

In this grand and thrilling narrative, the author of the 200,000-copy paperback bestseller Over the Edge of the World reveals the singular adventures of Sir Francis Drake, whose mastery of the seas during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I changed the course of history.

“Entrancing . . . Very good indeed.” —Wall Street Journal

Before he was secretly dispatched by Queen Elizabeth to circumnavigate the globe, or was called upon to save England from the Spanish Armada, Francis Drake was perhaps the most wanted—and successful—pirate ever to sail. Nicknamed “El Draque” by the Spaniards who placed a bounty on his head, the notorious red-haired, hot-tempered Drake pillaged galleons laden with New World gold and silver, stealing a vast fortune for his queen—and himself. For Elizabeth, Drake made the impossible real, serving as a crucial and brilliantly adaptable instrument of her ambitions to transform England from a third-rate island kingdom into a global imperial power.

In 1580, sailing on Elizabeth’s covert orders, Drake became the first captain to circumnavigate the earth successfully. (Ferdinand Magellan had died in his attempt.) Part exploring expedition, part raiding mission, Drake’s audacious around-the-world journey in the Golden Hind reached Patagonia, the Pacific Coast of present-day California and Oregon, the Spice Islands, Java, and Africa. Almost a decade later, Elizabeth called upon Drake again. As the devil-may-care vice admiral of the English fleet, Drake dramatically defeated the once-invincible Spanish Armada, spurring the British Empire’s ascent and permanently wounding its greatest rival. 

The relationship between Drake and Elizabeth is the missing link in our understanding of the rise of the British Empire, and its importance has not been fully described or appreciated. Framed around Drake’s key voyages as a window into this crucial moment in British history, In Search of a Kingdom is a rousing adventure narrative entwining epic historical themes with intimate passions.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062875358
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/16/2021
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 33,906
Product dimensions: 8.90(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

LAURENCE BERGREEN is the bestselling author of Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. His other books include Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492–1504; Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu; and Voyage to Mars: NASA’s Search for Life Beyond Earth. A graduate of Harvard, Bergreen lives in Manhattan.

Table of Contents

Maps viii

Principal Characters xv

A Note on Dates xix

Book I The Pirate

Chapter I The Island and the Empire 3

Chapter II The Monarch and the Mystic 34

Chapter III "Contrary Winds and Foul Weather" 65

Chapter IV Traitor 102

Chapter V Golden Hind 118

Chapter VI "The Most Mad Seas" 144

Chapter VII "Cruel Courtesy" 175

Chapter VIII Treasure Fleet 184

Chapter IX Cacafuego 190

Chapter X Life Among the Miwok 205

Chapter XI Deliverance 229

Chapter XII Unbroken Blue Water 236

Chapter XIII Return and Reward 249

Book II El Draque

Chapter XIV The Dragon Arrives 259

Chapter XV Two Queens, One Throne 292

Chapter XVI Raid on Cadiz 308

Chapter XVII Signs and Portents 331

Chapter XVIII Disdain, Revenge, Victory 359

Chapter XIX A "Top-Earning Pirate" 385

Acknowledgments 399

Notes on Sources 403

Sources 405

Bibliography 415

Index 427

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