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Spanish Armada
Part of the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604) and the Eighty Years' War
Invincible Armada

The Spanish Armada and English ships in August 1588, (unknown, 16th-century, English School)
Date July–August 1588

Decisive Spanish defeat

  • Militarily indecisive
  • Spanish invasion failure
  • Protestant propaganda victory
Estandarte Real de Felipe II.svg Iberian Union (Habsburg Spain)
Commanders and leaders
  • 34 warships
  • 163 armed merchant vessels
    (30 more than 200 tons)
  • 30 flyboats
  • 22 galleons of Portugal and Castile
  • 108 armed merchant vessels (including four war galleasses of Naples)
  • 2,431 artillery pieces
  • 7,000 sailors
  • 17,000 soldiers (90% Spaniards, 10% Portuguese)
Casualties and losses
Battle of Gravelines:
  • 50–100 dead
  • 400 wounded
  • 8 fireships burnt
Disease: 6,000–8,000 dead
Battle of Gravelines:
  • More than 600 dead
  • 800 wounded
  • 397 captured
  • Five ships sunk or captured
  • c. 35 ships lost (10 scuttled)
  • 20,000 dead
Loutherbourg-Spanish Armada
Defeat of the Spanish Armada,by Philip James de Loutherbourg

The Spanish Armada was a Spanish naval fleet most famous for being used by Spain's King Philip II to attack Britain in 1588. It was defeated by the Royal Navy of England during queen Elizabeth I's reign. The Royal Navy defeated the Armada by using the wind to blow ships that were lit on fire into the anchored fleet. This started on 12 July 1588 and ended during August 1588.

The Second in Command of the Royal Navy was Sir Francis Drake. Drake was playing a game of bowling with his friends when he heard of the attack, and insisted that he had time to finish the game and defeat the Spanish Armada.

The Armada was led by the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who had no naval experience. He replaced the original commander, who died in February.


The defeat of the armada is often attributed to a severe storm which scattered the Spanish vessels before they met the British fleet, meaning they could not utilise vastly superior numbers to their advantage as planned. The British only had 55 ships, but these ships were bigger and carried more guns. The Spanish only had short-range cannons, while the English had long-range cannons. Part of the English strategy was to sink or damage the enemy ships before they got close enough to fire back at them.

The English ships were also more maneuverable. The Spanish galleons could have their oars shorn off completely by a heavy vessel sailing past nearby.

The morale and dedication of the British sailors was high, buoyed by the famous speech by Queen Elizabeth and national loyalty, and led by experienced captains who had years of naval battles behind them. Phillip died in 1598 with fever.

However, even though the English sailors had done so well, they didn't get paid and were made to stay on their ships and 'Guard' in case there was another Spanish attack. Lord Howard of Effingham, was shocked when he found out that his soldiers weren't getting paid claiming that "I would rather have never a penny in the world, than they (his sailors) should lack...."

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Armada Invencible para niños

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