The Spanish Armada

Elizabeth I and King Philip of Spain were enemies. Elizabeth was a Protestant Queen and Philip was a Catholic King.

Philip II of Spain wanted England to have a Catholic monarch. He decided to invade England to get rid of Elizabeth. He ordered an armada (a great fleet of ships) to be built.

The Spanish Armada left Spain in the summer of 1588. The Spanish hoped to take the English by surprise, but the people of England were ready to fight. The English built bonfires on the top of hills to light when the Spanish ships were sighted. In this way the news would spread quickly through the country.

Elizabeth spoke to her army before the battle to help them defeat the Spanish:

I have come in the heat of battle to live or die amongst you all, to lay down for my God, for my Kingdom and for my people, my honour and my blood, even in this dust.

I know that I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a King and a King of England too,

I think it foul that Spain or any prince in Europe should dare to invade the boarders of my realm.

I know you have deserved rewards and crowns and I promise you on the word of a prince that they shall be paid to you.

The English filled many ships with things that would burn. They set them alight and let them drift into the Spanish Fleet. The Spanish had to try and quickly move their wooden ships away to stop them catching fire. The Armada was no longer together letting the English ships get closer.

Although the Spanish had more ships than the English, the English ships were faster and had bigger guns.

For a week the battle continued. The English had damaged a lot of the Spanish ships, but it was a strong wind that blew the Armada north leaving them little choice than to return home to Spain.

The Armada had failed to get its army into England. England had won the war and Elizabeth became even more popular.