From the Defeat of the Armada to Raleigh's


Expected Invasion of England by the Spanish Armada

Conduct of Elizabeth—Consultations with Sir Walter Raleigh and other experienced Officers-Preparations for Defence Drake, Hawkins, Frobisher, and Lord Henry SeymourStrength, Numbers, and Disposition of the English Navy, shown from Original Documents in the State-paper Office Elizabeth visits the Army in the Camp at Tilbury-The Armada sails from the Tagus-Dispersed and driven backSails the Second Time-Its Arrival off the Lizard-Cautious Tactics of the English-Their Success—Fight on the 22d, 23d, 25th, and 26th July—The Armada makes its Way up Channel to Calais-Its Discomfiture-Rejoicings for the Victory-Raleigh's Services rewarded by the Queen-He sails with Drake and Norris in the Portuguese Expedition-Character of the Earl of Essex-Raleigh's Journey to Ireland Visits Spenser at Kilcolman—Their Friendship-First Three Cantos of the Fairy Queen completed—Spenser returns with Raleigh to England - Introduced to the Queen - Raleigh's Defence of Sir Richard Grenville-Character and Fate of this great Officer-Raleigh's Amour with Elizabeth Throgmorton—They are privately married— Elizabeth's Indignation, and Raleigh's Disgrace Sent to the Tower-Singular Conduct in Confinement—He recovers his Liberty.

The governor of Virginia could not have returned home at a moment more unpropitious to the interests of the infant colony. The mind of the whole nation was engrossed with one great subject,--the expected invasion of England by the fleet so proudly described as the Invincible Armada,—and Raleigh, along with a committee of the ablest councillors and commanders, was engaged in devising measures of defence. He despatched White, however, with supplies in two vessels; but they were attacked by a Spanish privateer, and so much disabled as to be obliged to put back, whilst it was impossible to refit the ships, owing to the urgency of more important matters. The crisis was indeed one of the deepest importance. The preparations of Spain were conducted on a greater scale than had ever before been witnessed ; and, whether we look to these mighty efforts, or to the consequences involved in their success or discomfiture, it is perhaps not too much to affirm, that in a reign crowded with events, this threatened annihilation of England, the Protestant bulwark of Europe, by the concentrated energies of a despotic and Roman Catholic power, was the greatest of them all.

The resources of Philip made him a formidable enemy. His navy was vast, and unrivalled if we consider the size of his vessels and their ordnance; the possession of Flanders gave him harbours opposite to those of England; his influence with the Romish party in France was great ; his exchequer rich in the gold of the New World ; and his army composed of the best-disciplined troops and the most experienced officers in Europe. His preparations had now continued for three years, and the result was the assembling of a fleet greater than had ever sailed from Spain. According to a letter of Sir John Hawkins, written at the time to Sir Francis Walsingham,* the main strength of the Armada consisted in a squadron of fifty-four “forcible and invincible” ships, embracing nine galleons of Portugal, twenty great Venetians and argosies of the seas, twenty great Biscainers, four galleasses, and one ship of the Duke of Florence of 800 tons. Besides these there were thirty smaller ships, and thirty hulks, making in all 114 vessels; but another account, derived from the Spanish historians, gives a higher estimate,

* Preserved in the State-paper Office,

affirming that the whole naval force extended to 132 ships and twenty caravels.*

It was divided into seven squadrons. The first, consisting of twelve Portuguese galleons, under the command of the generalissimo, the Duke de Medina Sidonia; the second, of fourteen ships, being the fleet of Biscay, under the Vice-admiral Juan Martinez de Recaldo ; the third, that of Castile, of sixteen ships, commanded by Don Diego de Valdez; the fourth, the Andalusian squadron, of eleven ships, by Pedro de Valdez; the fifth, the squadron of Guypuscoa, of fourteen ships, by Don Michel de Oquendo; the sixth, the eastern fleet, of ten ships, called Levantiscas, led by Don Martin de Vertendona ; and the seventh, of twenty-three urcas, or hulks, under the command of Juan Lopez de Medina. Besides these there were twenty-four vessels, called pataches or zabras, under Antonio de M za, four galleasses of Naples, led by Hugo de Moncada, and four Portuguese galleys, by Don Diego de Medrana. The united crews amounted to 8766 mariners; and on board were 21,855 soldiers, besides 2088 galley-slaves. The ordnance was less than might have been expected, the whole fleet mounting only 3165 guns; but exclusive of this the Armada contained a large quantity of stores for the army, consisting of cannon, double cannon, culverins, and field-pieces; 7000 muskets, 10,000 halberds, 56,000 quintals of gunpowder, and 12,000 quintals of match. Confident of success, the Spaniards loaded the ships with horses, mules, carts, wheels, wagons, spades, mattocks, baskets, and every thing necessary for taking up their permanent residence in the country; and the fleet and army were provisioned on a scale of unexampled profusion. The generalissimo, the officers under him, and the volunteers, who belonged to the noblest families of Spain, were attended by their suites, physicians, and domestics. Every want had been

* Kent, vol. ii. pp. 266, 267. This would make the total 152 ships. It will be seen that Howard afterwards, in stating the whole force first seen off the Lizard, makes it 160 sail. It is difficult to arrive at the exact numbers.

provided for, every wish anticipated, with a splendour befitting more the progress of an Asiatic potentate, than the passage of an army against a formidable antagonist. Superstition, too, had sent her votaries, with the apparatus of her triumphs. One hundred and eighty monks and jesuits embarked on board the Armada ; they carried with them chains, wheels, racks, whips, and other instruments of torture, to be employed in the conversion of heretics; and a more intellectual but not less characteristic part of the stores consisted of many thousand copies of Doleman's “ Treatise on the Succession," written against the title of Elizabeth to the English throne. * But this was not all the force that Elizabeth saw arrayed against her. In the Netherlands the Duke of Parma had prepared a flotilla of flat-bottomed boats, and collected an army of 30,000 men, commanded under him by Amadeus of Savoy, John of Medicis, and Vespasian Gonzaga, duke of Sabionetta ; whilst the Duke of Guise was conducting 12,000 men to the coast of Normandy, in expectation of being received on board the fleet, and landed on the west of England.

Such was the force destined for the destruction of the Liberty of England, and the overthrow of the Protestant religion; and it might have been thought the gathering of a storm so tremendous would have shaken the constancy of a female sovereign. But it was far otherwise. The mind of Elizabeth rose with the emergency; and, at all times decided, now assumed an attitude of strength, cheerfulness, and preparation, which was truly noble. She knew the resources of her kingdom ; she expressed her confidence that God would never desert the cause of the true faith, or permit its enemies to triumph, and she collected round her those wise ministers and brave commanders who had been bred in her councils, and had gained knowledge and renown in her service. Amongst these one of the most distinguished was Raleigh ; and in the consultations, as well as in the active duties of this season of trial, he bore no inconsiderable part. It is apparent from his writings that he had long studied the question relative to the best means of opposing the power of Spain; he was acquainted, better perhaps than any man in England, with the strength and resources of that kingdom ; he was an excellent soldier, and intimately conversant with naval subjects; whilst his zeal for the honour of the queen and the glory of his country was not behind that of any of her servants.

* MSS. at Hatfield House.

It was with good reason, therefore, that he was chosen one of the council of war, held on the 27th of November. Its object was to prepare an immediate scheme of defence; and along with Raleigh sat Lord Grey, Sir Francis Knolles, Sir Thomas Leighton, Sir John Norris, Sir Richard Grenville, Sir Richard Bingham, Sir Roger Williams, and Ralph Lane, Esq. These councillors were chosen by the queen, as being not only men bred to arms, and some of them, as Grey, Norris, Bingham, and Grenville, of high military talents, but of grave experience in affairs of state and in the civil government of provinces, -qualities by no means unimportant, when the debate referred not merely to the leading of an army or the plan of a campaign, but to the organization of a militia, and the communication with the magistrates for arming the peasantry, and encouraging them to a resolute and simultaneous resistance. From some private papers of Lord Burleigh it appears that Sir Walter took a principal share in these deliberations; and the abstract of their proceedings, a document still preserved, is supposed to have been drawn up by him. They first prepared a list of places where it was likely the Spanish army might attempt a descent, as well as of those which lay most exposed to the force under the Duke of Parma. They next considered the speediest and most effectual' means of defence, whether by fortification or the muster of a military array; and, lastly, deliberated on the course to be taken for fighting the enemy if he should land.

When the lords-lieutenant of the different counties returned their numbers, it was found that the total

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